Week in Review: 5/2 – 5/8 – Cubs in free fall after a weekend sweep

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

Last week the Chicago Cubs bats went ice cold, while the best that can be said about the pitching is that it wasn’t as bad as the offense. (Numbers in parentheses are the Cubs NL rank for the week.)

  • Record: 0-5, .000 (15)
  • Runs scored: 7 (15) Runs Allowed: 27 (11)
  • Player of the Week: Nico Hoerner, .316/.316/.579, wRC+ 155

Nico Hoerner continued his impressive run at the plate and in the field. His contact-heavy approach produced a run and three RBI, meaning that Hoerner had a hand in over half the runs the Cubs scored last week. And as that slugging percentage shows, he flashed some power as well; three of Nico’s six hits went for extra bases, one of which was a homer.

Hoerner also continued his defensive dominance: he’s now the third-best shortstop in the realm according to Statcast. The one blemish on his record last week is that he failed to draw a walk. While Hoerner rarely strikes out he will chase. Expect pitchers to continue probing for weakness there, though so far they’ve had little success.

Willson Contreras also had a good week, with a slash line of .286/.375/.643 and a healthy wRC+ of 186. He’s the only other Cub that achieved a WAR of over 0.1 last week. Hoerner gets my player of the week honors thanks to his combined offense and defense, but Contreras had the best Cubs bat. Not that he had much other competition.

What we learned last week

There are a whole lotta outs in this Cubs lineup. The Cubs finished last in the NL runs scored with just seven runs. They were at or near bottom in almost any offensive stat you care to name. They would have trailed the entire majors in more categories but for the Oakland A’s, who are doggedly seeking relegation to Triple-A. And speaking of relegation, after putting up a wRC+ of 34 last week, Frank Schwindel was banished to Iowa. The Schwindy City is now the Des Moines Destroyer.

Last week the Cubs had a wRC+ of 47. That number may look familiar to you – it is, of course, the career wRC+ of Jiggs Parrott, the worst hitter in Cubs history. Parrott was a middle infielder who apparently had something on Cap Anson, because he played way too often for his ability.

The fans despised Parrott so much that at one point Anson resolved to play him only on the road. Parrott ultimately went into exile in Rockford; the fans’ only regret was that I-90 didn’t exist back then to get him out of town faster. That said, you have to admit that Jiggs Parrott probably has the highest handle-to-production ratio of any player in Cubs history.

What we questioned last week

The Cubs plan for NL Central domination (OK, work with me) is looking shakier than ever. Before the season began the Cubs’ hopes rested on an offense that would be competitive with the rest of the division; the real downside risk seemed to be on the mound. This week (the last two weeks really) have thrown a spanner into that plan. The Brewers and Cardinals have separated themselves both defensively and  offensively from the rest of the pack. The Cubs have fallen below the now-third place Pirates, who allow a lucky fan to DH every Friday. Chicago’s bats simply haven’t done the job so far.

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Fangraphs thinks the hitting will get better while the pitching will get worse, yielding a 71-win season. That seems a fair projection at this point; fans can hope that at least from an offensive standpoint, the Cubs will get a dead cat bounce in the coming week. Given that the Padres and Snakes have both been good at suppressing runs, that is by no means certain, which may come as a relief to cats.