The most impressive hitter in the Cubs lineup so far this year might surprise you

It looks like Chicago may have solved its long-standing first base problem with the Michael Busch trade.
Chicago Cubs v Seattle Mariners
Chicago Cubs v Seattle Mariners / Stephen Brashear/GettyImages

Aside from a couple of months of Frank Schwindel-mania to close out 2021, the Chicago Cubs have lacked a real answer at first base since trading Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees at the trade deadline nearly three years ago.

But that no longer appears to be the case, with rookie Michael Busch stringing together quality at-bat after quality at-bat and backing it up with the results fans hoped for when the Cubs traded for him last offseason. When asked about the reigning PCL Player of the Year, those around him kept echoing one word: consistent.

“This is just a makeup thing of who he is,” Counsell told Marquee Sports Network earlier this week. “And it’s swing characteristics. He’s just got a solid foundation and that is what let him produce at such a high level and do all those things well at the highest level of the minor leagues.

Cubs are getting all they could hope for from Michael Busch early on

Busch boosted his overall line further in Friday's loss to the Mariners, belting a solo home run as part of a two-hit night. His .960 OPS on the year leads all qualified Cubs hitters and he's tied for fourth in barrel % among qualified batters. The man he's tied with? Reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani.

With Cody Bellinger off to a slow start at the dish, Busch has given Craig Counsell some pop from the left side in the middle of the Cubs order. Of his 12 hits on the year, half have gone for extra bases: three home runs and a trio of doubles.

He's done almost all his damage against fastballs, something the league is surely taking note of. Like all young hitters, he'll need to make adjustments as pitchers start feeding him more offspeed pitches, but the good news is that he's shown a ton of patience to this point, which should bode well as the season wears on.

We're just over two weeks into the 2024 campaign and it's a nice reminder that two weeks does not a season make. There will be ups and downs for Busch, just as there are for every player in the game, but it's encouraging to see him make the most of his first extended opportunity at the big league level.