Why do the Cubs keep thinking these players can fix the offense?

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Over the last few years, it felt like Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer looked at their collection of position players, many of whom played critical roles on the 2016 World Series champion Cubs, through graduation goggles.

Despite pretty apparent offensive shortcomings, namely living and dying via the long ball and failing to generate offense, they kept running it back over and over with this group while expecting different results. At long last, with Epstein stepping down and Hoyer taking the reins, change finally started to arrive at the offices of Gallagher Way.

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The love affair between Epstein and former first-rounder Kyle Schwarber was jettisoned with Hoyer taking over. He then replaced him with longtime Dodgers slugger Joc Pederson who, at first glance, looks very similar – but has some key distinctions.

But that was it. The pitching staff saw tremendous turnover, but if Opening Day were tomorrow, Pederson would be the only guy who didn’t start for the Cubs in 2020 penciled in on that lineup card. What does that tell you? This organization is still hoping for changes from its core players.

In a piece for The Athletic (subscription required), Patrick Mooney details the reasons Chicago thinks this might actually be feasible this time around, including technological advancements and more hands-on guidance from David Ross in his second year at the helm.

Can data, advanced metrics lead to offensive success?

There’s also hope that Chris Valaika can work alongside hitting coach Anthony Iapoce to put more analytics and data in the hands of players so they can make better decisions come game time. Most of that information has been geared toward pitching in the past (a prime example being the Cubs’ famed Pitch Lab) – so the team is hoping that they can generate similar results with the offense.

By and large, you know what to expect from this lineup. The real question marks, though, come in the form of Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. Can Baez bounce back from the worst professional season of his career in which his approach was crippled by a lack of in-game video access? Is Bryant finally back at 100 percent and ready to anchor a lineup?

Next. Cubs' season hinges on early success from the core. dark

If the Cubs actually can generate meaningful improvements and change from even a few guys using technology and advanced metrics, it has the potential to once make this lineup one of the most feared in all of baseball.