Un-Fun with Tiny Sample Sizes on the Cubs' Rough Offensive Start

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Un-Fun with Tiny Sample Sizes on the Cubs’ Rough Offensive Start

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs notched one hit last night, a double to left by Kris Bryant. That was the entire scope of the batted ball offense for the Cubs.

At least it provided a humorous moment when Christian Yelich offered his tribute to Ryan Braun:

But really, it was hard to laugh too much when the Cubs’ bats were scuffling so much, as they have been on the whole to open the season.

Through five games, the Cubs have scored just 17 runs, and it has somehow felt like less. The pitching has been – as we hoped! – pretty darn solid so far, though it’s far too early to draw any conclusions. So I guess if I’m holding back on that side, I should do the same for the offense, which was almost wholly absent last night in the 4-0 loss to the Brewers.

I was poking around the numbers this morning for fun, thinking about how few hits it seems like the Cubs have, and sure enough, their 18 hits are more than only the Mets and Nationals … you know, the teams that had their season delayed because of COVID issues. In fact, the Nationals just had their season opener yesterday, and they already have 10 hits!

The Cubs’ .140 team BABIP (lol) is by far the lowest in baseball, and reflects both an overall lack of quality contact, as well as some bad luck. Consider that, among the seven Cubs batters who’ve had enough balls in play to start calculating an expected wOBA, six of the seven have actual wOBA’s lower than what you’d have expected in a vacuum. There’s been some flukey bad luck in a small sample already. That’s just the nature of things. The Cubs will get some better bounces, to be sure, but they’re also going to need to improve their contact.

The Cubs’ team wRC+ is just 65, which 35% worse than league average. But, hey, it’s only fourth worst in baseball, so they must be doing something right! That something is taking walks, as the team’s 13.7% walk rate is highest in baseball among the non-Mets-Nats division. Of course, a lot of that is counteracted by the 28.6% strikeout rate, which is, sigh, still far too high. If you’re striking out that much AND you’re not getting many hits when you do put the ball in play, well, that’s a recipe for a nothingburger offense.

Ultimately, like I said, I was just poking around for fun. It’s five games. You can’t *actually* take anything away from a group of guys who, at most, have 20 plate appearances. The road isn’t going to get easier any time soon, though, as the Cubs will get Brandon Woodruff today, and then likely the Brewers’ best trio next week, plus the Mets and Braves later this month. Lotta good pitching coming at the Cubs’ bats this month.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.