It’s no secret the Chicago Cubs have a contact problem; anybody watching a game can see that.
The team was fourth in the Majors and second in the National League with a 25.7 strikeout rate. In over 1/4th of their plate appearances, a Cubs hitter struck out.
Granted, contact in today’s baseball comes at a premium. The Tampa Bay Rays were second in baseball with a 26.9 strikeout percentage, and they are one win away from the World Series as of this writing. The contact hitting that the Cubs need doesn’t even need to be hitters who are good hitters, just some players who can put the ball in play when the situation calls for it.
Adam Frazier -Pittsburgh Pirates
Adam Frazier currently occupies a spot on the roster of a Cubs’ division rival, the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, he could be a good candidate to be non-tendered off the roster, and the Cubs should jump on the opportunity. If he doesn’t get non-tendered, the Pirates are in a long rebuild and could shop anybody and everybody.
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In his career, Frazier has a 100 wRC+, but he had a bad year this year in a 60-game season. His slash line of .230/.297/.364 doesn’t jump off the page, but the strikeout rate does. Frazier only struck out 15.2 percent of the time, and his career rate is just 13.6. Those numbers should be music to the Cubs’ ears, and if they can find a way to add him, they should.
Frazier is enticing to them for another reason – contact percentage. According to Fangraphs, he makes contact 86.2 percent of the time over his career. He is not an easy out at the plate and does the little things well offensively, and the Cubs have a potential opening at second base. Frazier’s career slash line against the Cubs is .294/.362/.492, which is a .854 OPS, so they wouldn’t have to deal with that anymore, either.
Andrelton Simmons – Los Angeles Angels
Andrelton Simmons strikes out less than Frazier and just nine percent for his career. He is a Gold Glove defender, and a double-play combo of Javy Baez + Andrelton Simmons sounds deadly; nothing will get through the infield with those two manning it.
Simmons had a bit of a spike in strikeouts this year, striking out 12.6 percent of the time, but he still posted a .297 average. One thing that may drive them away from Simmons is his groundball rate. Over the course of his career, Simmons has hit the ball on the ground 51.2 percent of the time, and it was 55 percent in 2020, according to Fangraphs. His contact percentage was 85.6 percent, even higher than Frazier’s, with a career mark of 87.7 percent.
The Cubs hit the ball on the ground enough as a team; the last thing they need is more groundballs. Simmons does have value defensively and with his bat to ball skills, and if the Cubs see a fit, they should go after him. Frazier and Simmons would fill out the lineup and compliment the sluggers near the order’s top.