Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

anthony rizzo featureThe Cubs have muscled up in May, hitting 30 home runs, 77 extra-base hits and racking up 347 total bases while ranking seventh, eighth and 11th in baseball in those categories, respectively.

Yet, despite their recent binge — nine homers in six games prior to Wednesday’s shutout — the Cubs haven’t been as reliant on the long ball as we might think.

With 33.9 percent of their runs (64 of 189) coming courtesy of their 46 homers (5th most in NL), the Cubs sit among the middle of the pack.

Of the eight NL teams who are at or above .500 entering Thursday’s games, the Dodgers have generated the most runs via homers. Their 62 homers are the most in the NL and have generated 95 of the 209 runs they’ve scored  — or 45.5 percent.

The Giants, whose 37 home runs rank 12th in the 15-team league, have the lowest percentage of runs via homers among contenders (30.8 percent), while the Braves (27 HR ranks 14th in NL) have had only 40 of their 185 runs scored come via the long ball, which represents the lowest run total and percentage.

Here is how it looks in a chart, sorted by percentage:

DODGERS209 (95)6238167145.5
NATIONALS219 (88)54321110140.2
METS180 (63)4125114135
CUBS189 (64)4631123033.9
PIRATES189 (63)392388033.3
CARDINALS202 (64)3922106131.7
GIANTS198 (61)3718161230.8
BRAVES185 (40)271781121.6

The thing that stands out in regard to the Cubs’ home runs is that 31 of 46 have been solo shots. At 67.4 percent, this is far and away the highest percentage among the aforementioned group of what could be considered early season contenders. Meanwhile, their 16 home runs leading off an inning is tied for the sixth most in baseball.

Further, the Cubs’ 15 homers with runners on base checks in as the sixth fewest in baseball. Only the Indians (14), Braves (12), Marlins (10), White Sox (10) and Phillies (7) entered Thursday with fewer home runs with runners on base. The Dodgers’ 24 homers with runners on is the most in the NL, while the Astros’ 28 leads all of baseball.

Moving forward, the Cubs need to find a way to capitalize on their home runs.

It shouldn’t be that difficult considering they rank 10th in on-base percentage (.319) and third in walk percentage (9.1 percent). They have also had the 10th most at bats with runners in scoring position (396), so it isn’t as if they aren’t getting chances.

If the team can continue to get runners on base at this current clip, the more likely they are to run into a long ball that scores multiple runs. Thus, maximizing the efforts of one mighty swing.

If only it was that easy.

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