Let me start by saying I believe there is a lot more to be positive about than negative when it comes to the Chicago Cubs and the totality of the 2022 season. That being said, there is one critical aspect of the club’s game that must be addressed if the club hopes to find true success in 2023 and beyond.
Even though the Cubs finished in the top three in ERA in the second half and got consistent seasons from Ian Happ and a healthy Nico Hoerner, one thing remains: increasing the team’s performance with runners in scoring position.
How much of this falls on hitting coach Greg Brown and how much can truly be taught is debatable. Hitting in the clutch obviously is not an easy as hitting without men in scoring position due to the extra nerves that come with it, but still, the Cubs have not fared well in recent years in this department and it has to change.
Cubs have room to improve with men in scoring position
In 2022, the Cubs landed in 28th across the league with runners in scoring position with a team batting average of an underwhelming .230. This is one of the key reasons they landed in just 21st in team runs per game with 4.06.
The thing about that 4.06 runs per game mark, is that runs per game is such a tight statistic that if the Cubs had another 1.2 runs per game they would have the best mark in all of MLB. However, this is how much of an emphasis we need to put on the offense. With literally any improvement at all, you’re one of the better offensive teams in the league next year.
For what it’s worth, the league average with RISP this year was .252, which honestly doesn’t seem like much but really can be when you think about how much a key RBI here and there could have altered many Cubs games they lost by 1 or 2 runs this year (for what it’s worth, Chicago went 26-27 in one-run contests this year). Of course, another key point you could articulate is that the Cubs really did not have that many offensive weapons to really begin with this year.
Just as adding a key starting pitcher to the front of the rotation is vital to the Cubs success, the same can be said about adding the proper offensive weapons. Luckily, Jed Hoyer and his front office have already been connected to a few offensive studs in free agency already this offseason, so this could be a statistic that corrects itself with the proper pieces in place moving forward.
Looking at a team like the Dodgers who led the league in runs per game with 5.17, it’s safe to say making big moves has paid off for that team. The Cubs will hopefully look to replicate that production with a flurry of moves their own this winter. Landing guys like Jose Abreu and a key shortstop such as Trea Turner while sliding Hoerner over to second base is a great place to start.