One thing that becomes very clear when looking at the Cubs offense through 11 games, is it is extremely different from the previous four years. Though the numbers have shifted a bit since the below tweet went out, they still sit in the top five of the majors in almost every offensive category except for home runs.
Cubs' position players (10-game sample size alert & had 4 Coors games)…
AVG: .277 (2nd)
BABIP: .335 (1st)
OBP: .357 (2nd)
SLG: .446 (3rd)
OPS: .803 (2nd)
wOBA: .357 (2nd)
wRC+: 126 (3rd)
BB%: 9.8 (13th)
K%: 21.1 (11th-best)
BB/K%: .046 (8th)
BsR: -1.3 (30th)
fWAR: 2.4 (4th)
— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) April 19, 2022
It’s a far cry from the all-or-nothing approach the Cubs fell into after 2016 that saw them falling into the three true outcomes, except that homers weren’t plentiful enough to make up for strikeouts. Relying on power is particularly difficult in the early part of the season, when cold weather conditions can really diminish fly ball distance.
The Cubs actually have one more home run this year through their first 11 games than they did in 2021 (11 to 10), but they are averaging two more runs per game (4.9 to 2.8). The team slash line of .266/.349/.437 is vastly different from last year’s .216/.309/.388 in April as they have drastically reduced strikeouts. Their 260 Ks in April of ’21 ranked fourth-highest in MLB gave them a 26.9 K% that wasn’t nice at all, but they rank 10th lowest at just 20.7% this year.
Even grounding into a league-leading 15 double plays hasn’t completely crushed them, largely because they’re getting so many more runners on that they’re generally able to overcome the twin killings.
Contact hitters like Nick Madrigal, Nico Hoerner, Frank Schwindel, and the seemingly unstoppable Seiya Suzuki are able to put the ball in play for more than just homers. The Cubs have 25 doubles so far, tied for third in MLB, which is why they rank fourth in slugging despite not blasting majestic dingers with increased frequency. It’s a much needed remedy on those cold nights at Wrigley Field when power is hard to come by.
As we’re starting to see more recently, however, Patrick Wisdom, is someone who can bring plenty of thunder in any conditions. Suzuki, Ian Happ, and Willson Contreras likewise have boomsticks ready for more favorable conditions. There’s still plenty of time for these numbers to shift and settle, but maintaining anything close to their current trends will make the Cubs very fun to watch this summer.