Cubs expect Javier Baez and the core to step up offensively

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

After years of simply running back the same group and expecting different results, change has finally come to the Friendly Confines.

Despite the new faces added to the mix, whether or not the Chicago Cubs contend in 2021 relies largely on a group of familiar names, namely Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo. For his part, team president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer expects better performances this time around.

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"“Listen, we just straight-out underperformed last year. There’s no way around it,” Hoyer told “Do I believe that that group is going to struggle in the same way? I don’t. And maybe that’s stubbornness, or maybe it’s looking at the back of their baseball cards."

Bryant and Baez both struggled badly last year. For much of the year, the Chicago shortstop looked lost at the plate, swinging through hittable pitches over the heart of the plate. The final result? A dismal .203/.238/.360 and 57 wRC+. He walked less than ever before and struck out more than he has since his rookie campaign back in 2014.

He ranked in the bottom four percent of the league in whiff rate, bottom 12 in xBA and bottom 24 in xSLG. Baez was so far removed from his MVP-caliber 2018 showing that he was virtually unrecognizable at the plate. The only bright spot? He finally brought home that coveted Gold Glove award for his work at shortstop.

Cubs: Kris Bryant is ready to get enjoy baseball once again

Bryant, the most talked about member of this Cubs core, like Baez, is heading into his final year of team control. Hoyer is hoping that both guys rise to the occasion and get back on track at the dish in 2021. The former NL MVP couldn’t get anything going at the plate and finally showed some frustration at the end of the year – a rarity for him.

"“… I have a hard time believing this group of players, with a lot of guys in walk years, is going to struggle that way.”"

Next. Cubs are working with some more money at their disposal. dark

Hoyer knows that whether or not he can hammer out extensions with these guys, he needs them to bounce back at the plate. Right now, the trade value for both players is at an all-time low and he’s well aware of that fact. Now, we just have to cross our fingers and hope what’s left of the core can get back to leading the charge.