Heading into Wednesday’s game vs the Milwaukee Brewers, the Chicago Cubs ranked dead last in the Major Leagues in batting average, hitting .132 as a team. You might think that would represent the low point for the team, but you’d be very, very wrong.
Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff no-hit Chicago for six innings in a game the Cubs offense mustered just three hits in a 4-2 loss. The result? The team’s batting average fell from that .132 mark down to just .124 through the first six games of the season.
The team batting average on balls in play – which excludes home runs – is .132. These are both unsustainable and will even out at some point.
Entering Wednesday’s finale, the club’s wRC+ was 65, which somehow wasn’t the worst in the league. That honor went to the Brewers, who then went on to take the rubber match at Wrigley behind days from Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. One encouraging thing about the Cubs offensively is they rank fourth in baseball in walks, so they’re seeing pitches. Eventually they will break out and score some runs, which could lead to some more wins.
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Make no mistake, this is not trying to pump sunshine, there are still many concerns with the offense. Those are the same concerns we’ve talked about for years: a lack of contact, the ground balls, the inconsistency from top to bottom, etc. Still, I have faith the performance right now will even out on the positive side, no matter how bad it seems.
Through the first six games of the season, the Cubs are 3-3 and have recorded just 21 hits, with seven of them being home runs, and 13 extra-base hits overall. The slugging is there, but like past years, the Cubs still need to learn to manufacture more offense.
It’s okay to be concerned. It’s okay to be pessimistic, because the offense hasn’t given the fans a reason to assume it will be a top-tier offense like it was in 2016 or 2017, but it will get better in 2021.
Cubs desperately need a clear direction with an offensive philosophy
During the shortened 2002 season, Cubs hitters slashed .220/.318/.387 with a 92 wRC+. Granted it was only 60 games, but that showed a trend heading into 2021 that remains concerning. The slugging was gone last year, and that’s long been an integral part of the offense.
The bats are what makes the Cubs’ future so interesting. The front office has talked multiple times about needing to add more contact. With a potential mass exodus on the horizon with all the impending free agents, does Jed Hoyer stick with the high power, low contact philosophy, or does the organization do a full reset and a full rebuild for a few years? I don’t exactly envy Hoyer in the months to come.
Even if they aren’t competing in July, do they trade all the free agents-to-be and see if they can get anything of value for them? That’s not completely off the table either.
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The Cubs offense won’t be unbearable to watch all season, but it will often be frustrating, just like it’s been during the last week. The swing-and-miss tendencies are too much for them to ever be consistent, and quite frankly, I don’t think anybody would disagree with a full rebuild/retool at this point. It’s been needed for too long.