The Cubs Offense is on Pace to Set Some Records!

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The Cubs Offense is on Pace to Set Some Records!

Chicago Cubs

We talked a lot in the offseason about this Cubs team being extremely high variance, meaning the realistic range of possible outcomes is really, really wide. But of course, that’s not just for the team total, it’s actually speaking to the individual players, which means you could see – for example – really strong performances on one side of the ball at the same time you see really bad performances on the other, which yields you win totals that aren’t necessarily extreme in either direction.

Of course, the necessary addendum to that point is that even as we’ve seen some really strong pitching from the Cubs this year, the offense has been so bad that a .400 winning percentage would translate to a 65-win team. So, to this point – crazy small sample alert! – the Cubs have performed overall at that extreme low end of the possible variance. For context, the deepest depths of the rebuild in 2012 and 2013 saw the Cubs win 61 and 66 games, respectively. You usually have to try very hard to win so few games.

So anyway, about the offense, since you know that’s the holy-crap-low-side-of-the-variance-equation piece I’m talking about today.

If you thought this stretch was uniquely bad, it turns out you aren’t just overreacting to it being the first 10 games of the season. The Cubs have never been this impotent offensively over a 10-game stretch:

The hits get most of the attention because they’ve been comically absent, but it is truly in all ways that the Cubs’ offense has been brutal. Their team OPS (.585) is last in the league by 32(!) points, and is 272(!) points behind the league leading Reds. The Cubs have struck out (100) more than twice as often as they’ve notched a hit. Their 28.8% strikeout rate is worst in the National League, their 80.0% contact rate in the strike zone is worst in the National League, and their overall contact rate (69.9%) is worst in baseball.

Not only that, but it would be the worst contact rate for ANY team since FanGraphs started collecting data on contact rate 20 years ago. These Cubs, so far, have been bad in a truly special way.

The Cubs are tied for 5th in baseball in stolen bases (7), and tied for 12th in baseball in triples (1). These are the highlights. That’s what I’ve got.

I don’t know what manager David Ross is supposed to say at this point, because he isn’t blind to the problem.

“It feels like we are very homer-dependent right now,” Ross said after the game, per NBC. “And I understand that’s part of our M.O. and how our team is built. But we’ve got to find ways to put the ball in play, put the pressure on the defense, make things happen, and spark something …. This is too talented of a group to do what we’re doing so far.”

Maybe so, but the group has been talented for a long time – even when the offense “broke” in 2018 – but the resulting production has been lacking for almost as long. This is a years-long problem, not a 10-game problem. We’ll keep on tracking it from here, and while I’d expect some improvement overall – probably even significant improvement – I think any hopes that this would wind up a sneaky great offense should be fading rapidly.

A couple stray thoughts while we’re on the topic, since they are two things that come up frequently in response to the early struggles:

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.