A season full of offensive struggles combined with a quick postseason exit leaves many fans wondering what the Chicago Cubs will look like in 2021.
It’s hard to win when you don’t score any runs, but the Cubs made this look easy after getting swept by the Marlins in the Wild Card Series.
In two games played this postseason, the Cubs’ offense managed to score just once, via a solo home run by Ian Happ.
With a lineup consisting of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Schwarber, the outcome was disappointing, to say the least, but from what we’ve seen for a majority of this season–should we be surprised?
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Oddly enough, Chicago Bears fans will remember that ’06 team made it to the Super Bowl with a mediocre offense and a great defense. Similar to what we’ve seen from the 2020 Cubs–great pitching and defense, combined with an inconsistent offense.
This will only get a team so far before they’re exposed.
Throughout the regular season, the Cubs offense (.220 BA-28th MLB) either scored lots of runs or barely any at all. The lack of production stems back to the last few seasons; only this year, we saw the core members of the team post the worst statistical numbers of their careers.
Only Happ (.258 BA .866 OPS) and Jason Heyward (.265 BA .848 OPS) showed consistency during this 60-game season.
Now this leaves President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein with the million-dollar question–what moves should be made this offseason?
Of course, this all depends on whether or not there is a regular 162-game season on the way, but let’s say things are what we’re accustomed to for a 2021 MLB season.
The first move I think should be made replacing hitting coach Anthony Iapoce. Maybe it was the stubbornness of the players, but whatever offensive approach the team took this season didn’t work. It made us scratch our heads at times because, despite the struggles, it seemed like the team didn’t make any adjustments to address these issues, resulting in one run scored in two playoff games.
The next area of business revolves around which players stay and who is on their way out. We’ve heard all season about how this year could have potentially been a last dance for the core of the Cubs:
Rizzo has one final $2 mil team option for next year, while Bryant, Baez, and Schwarber will enter their last years of arbitration before becoming free agents in 2022.
Just how much value these former world champions have is perhaps the biggest question at the moment.
If I had to guess, I would say, for this reason, Epstein gives the team and first-year manager David Ross another shot at things next season. Worst case scenario, if they aren’t competing by the trade deadline, they can probably get more from a contending team for a streaky-slugger like Kyle Schwarber than they would this offseason.
Sure this season was one Cub-fans would probably like to forget, but at the end of the day, they did manage to win their division while having one of the worst offenses in baseball.
Maybe the addition of a big free agent like Trevor Bauer or DJ LeMahieu would be enough to make this team a feared contender again. One would like to think if they made it this far with mediocrity, they surely would only be a few pieces away from getting back to that level of competitiveness from a few seasons ago.
The only problem is that level of intensity will only come from the core of the Cubs players, which is what we failed to see during big games in recent years.
If that competitiveness and hunger which made them World Series champions in 2016 are gone, then maybe it is indeed time to start from scratch with this team.