Given how incessant – but accurate! – the complaints are about the Chicago Cubs’ failure to succeed at the plate when runners are in scoring position, I thought it worth pointing out that even GM Jed Hoyer is seeing the same thing.
“There’s a lot of guys having really good years,” Hoyer told the Athletic this week. “I think from a team perspective, that’s where the frustration lies in a lot of ways. We just haven’t hit with guys in scoring position. We haven’t capitalized on a lot of opportunities. It feels like that’s too often the storyline — what our numbers are with guys in scoring position …. As a group, I feel like we’re a little bit less than the sum of the parts because of the situational hitting. The good thing is that I think if we get some of that stuff figured out, we have the firepower. I don’t think there’s any question about that. I just think we need to start doing it as a group.”
Indeed. We’ve tread over this ground again and again, but it’s the explanation for how an offense can have upwards of six guys you feel like are having good years, but also still feel like it is a completely punchless group. Less than the sum of the parts.
I’ll add to the truism there and note that, thanks to the exponential nature of offense – the idea that, thanks to shifting, holding runners, and pitcher pressure, you’re supposed to be better with runners on base – the more the Cubs struggle with runners on, the DISPROPORTIONATELY painful it is for the offense. Not only are they not getting the runs that are out there, but they also aren’t creating the opportunity for the next batter. And the next batter. And the next batter.
The question, as it always is when it comes to RISP situations: are we just seeing random noise in small samples, or do the Cubs – either on a player by player basis, or collectively – have a mental block in RISP situations that precludes them from performing at their typical level? You hope for the former, and in some past years, that seems to have been the case. But if it’s the latter, then the ensuing questions are about whether it’s at all correctable for certain players, whether the coaching/skills staff is appropriately addressing the issue, and whether roster changes have to be made.