Although the Cubs took two of three from the Pirates this weekend, they were fortunate to do so insofar as they managed just six runs the whole weekend.
The culprit? You guessed it. It was that thing. Yup, and the other thing.
That’d be failing with runners in scoring position, and also failing to hit for power. When the offense has gone away this year, those have been the two bugaboos (notching lots of hits with the bases empty, taking talks, and making plenty of contact have all been fairly consistent, and the offense overall has been very solid).
For the weekend’s trio of games, the Cubs managed just two hits with runners in scoring position, going 2 for 21 in the process. On the year, their RISP line is down to .234/.340/.350, with an 81 wRC+. This from a team that hits a whopping .255/.337/.430, 110 wRC+ with the bases empty. At some point, that spread becomes so significant that it cannot be wholly attributed to chance. I’m getting pretty close to “there.”
The other issue for the Cubs this weekend, as noted, was a total lack of power: just four doubles in the three games. That was it for extra-base hits. In today’s game, you won’t win too many like that.
Unlike the RISP thing, a lack of power hasn’t been an extreme problem for the Cubs, but – for a good overall offense – it’s certainly been disappointing. The team’s .162 isolated slugging (a measure of power, setting aside singles) is tied with the Brewers for 16th in baseball.
I tend to think both of these areas will improve for the Cubs over the course of this season, because I believe in the talent on the roster, but I also think it’s now a bit too far along to keep saying “it’s early.” There is meaningful data here, and I’d imagine the Cubs’ coaching staff and front office are already long at work considering how to improve the club’s production.
And hopefully it kicks in for this series against the Brewers. Although the Cubs have dominated the season series so far (7-1), the Cubs managed just nine runs in their four-game sweep at Wrigley Field in late April. They fared much better, offensively, at the start of the month in Milwaukee, when they scored 20 runs in the first four-game set.