The World Series is underway, meaning the 2022 season is almost over and free agency will soon begin. The Chicago Cubs ended their season with a third-place finish in the NL Central, with a 74-88 record – wrapping a whopping 17 games behind the first-place Cardinals. But, as is the case every season, there were both good and bad with this season – let’s take a look.
What went wrong:
It is pretty obvious what went wrong with the pitching this year. You can tell by looking at the 4.00 team ERA and 1.30 WHIP that the arms left something to be desired. As well as the unfortunate seasons of Alec Mills, Kyle Hendricks, Rowan Wick, and Sean Newcomb, these guys just did not have it this year. On top of this, injuries plagued the team, as Adbert Alzolay, Drew Smyly and Wade Miley missed major chunks of the season. But despite the disappointing features from the Cubs 2022 season, there were many things that can be looked at in a positive way.
What went right:
First off, the team ERA and WHIP greatly improved from the 2021 season to 2022. In 2021, the Cubs ERA and WHIP were both ranked 27th. With an ERA of 4.87 and a WHIP of 1.40 in 2021, this team did improve the following year, and a lot of that has to do with Marcus Stroman and Brandon Hughes.
As there is still a long way to go for this team, it is still wonderful to see an improvement. Nearly every pitcher from this team will be back, a Smyly is the only pitcher who will hit the free agent market. Let’s not sleep on the major second-half improvements we saw from the staff, as a whole, either.
This team has so many new faces; many of which will likely be part of this team’s future. From Hayden Wesneski, Caleb Killian, Javier Assad, Ethan Roberts and Hughes, this pitching staff has a lot of potential. Add in some proven commodities, including an ace, and you’ve got the makings of something special.
What went wrong:
Probably the biggest thing that went wrong at the plate this season, is that this team struck out a lot. Ranked 19th in batting average with .238, the 2022 Cubs ranked sixth in all of MLB in strikeouts. Only one postseason team was in the top 5 in strikeouts this season, the Atlanta Braves. Striking out will cause teams to not win, and that is something the Cubs struggled with at the plate. Striking out means not reaching base, as the club was ranked 17th for OBP with .311. What also didn’t help was only two players had a batting average over .270: Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner. Oh, and the fact the lineup was horrendous with men in scoring position.
What went right:
Despite the offense clearly struggling at the plate this year, there was a lot of improvement from the 2021 season. In 2021, Cubs ranked 24th in batting average with .237, 20th in OBP with .312, and first in strikeouts. Even though there is small improvement at the plate from 2021, it is still good to see this team taking steps in the right direction when it comes to their approach at the plate.
Similar to pitching, this offense saw many new faces. Seiya Suzuki, Christopher Morel, Franmil Reyes, Nelson Velazquez, and a somewhat healthy Nick Madrigal, many of these guys made an impact on the offense. On top of that, the young core for this team has lots of potential. Between Ian Happ, Nico Hoerner, Suzuki and Morel, it is possible that this team is a few major free agent signings away from competing for the playoffs.
So what’s next for the Cubs looking ahead to 2023?
The Cubs need to sign some top-tier players this offseason. Stroman, Happ, Morel, Hoerner and Suzuki are clearly not enough for this team to compete for a spot in the postseason in 2023. Signing a starter, a few relievers, and a few major offensive producers is necessary for this team to begin competing with the Cardinals and Brewers again, instead of fighting for scraps with the Pirates and Reds.