2 truths and 1 lie about the 2023 Chicago Cubs season so far
Nine games into the 2023 Chicago Cubs season, there's already plenty to talk about this group of Northsiders as they look to prove the doubters wrong. The rebuilt roster has struggled a bit in its first few series, but they've still managed to stay above .500 thanks to some impressive wins against the Rangers and Mariners. Fans have gotten a glimpse at both sides of the coin - what a typical Cubs win will look like this year and how the majority of their losses will happen.
There's a lot of truth to how evaluators appraised this team before the season began. There's room to improve and the Cubs are still reliant on more than a few things to go right for them to contend. That said, this team has some more impressive aspects going for them that might be missed without watching them every day or diving into the underlying numbers. Let's take a look at two truths and a lie concerning the 2023 Cubs.
Truth #1: The Cubs offense desperately needs a star or two
On the surface, the Cubs don't look terrible offensively to start the year. They lack power, for sure, with Patrick Wisdom proving to be their only consistent source of slugging right now, but they've managed to pile up some decent offensive performances in the early going and they have a +8 run differential. Not to mention, Dansby Swanson and Ian Happ, among others, are off to a scorching hot start at the plate.
Look under the hood, however, and there are major red flags indicating that things should be worse than they are. For one, they only have a 94 wRC+ as a team, putting them 19th overall in all of baseball. It may be early in the season, but they currently have a barrel rate way below the league average at only 5.1% compared to 8.6%. They've also made more weak contact and less solid contact than average with a 48.7% ground ball rate compared to the 43.7% league mark.
Notably, their .332 BABIP is also a bit high, suggesting there's a bit of luck involved in some of the hits they have gotten. While they do have some guys underperforming their expected numbers like Miles Mastrobuoni and, shockingly, Swanson, there's also Eric Hosmer, Happ, and Wisdom who, by xBA, xSLG, and xWOBA, are vastly overperforming what peripherals suggest.
The truth is, they still are lacking a thumper or two in the lineup. It also doesn't help that they have several struggling hitters among their ranks including offseason acquisition Trey Mancini. Unless they can get a big Seiya Suzuki, Cody Bellinger, or prospect breakout this year, the other shoe is going to drop at some point. This is an offense with a lot of warts