What Will We Say About the 2022 Chicago Cubs Season?

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What Will We Say About the 2022 Chicago Cubs Season?

Chicago Cubs

The baseball season never feels as long as when you’re in the middle of a non-competitive year. And it never feels as short the day after it ends.

Some moments it’s like I blinked and we shot from maddening but relieving end of the lockout straight to today. The entire 2022 Chicago Cubs season is now in the rearview. Did I really live any of it? That couldn’t have been seven months, could it?

The end of this season is a bittersweet one, I think. On the one hand, I never look forward to the day when there won’t be a Cubs game to watch for another half-year. On the other hand, I’m pretty excited about the shape this offseason could take for the Cubs, and I’m kinda itching to get to it.

To that end, I wonder how we’ll think about the 2022 season in the future. What will we say about it? What will we call it? A punted season that the Cubs tried to tank and couldn’t even do that right? A positive stepping stone in the rebuilding process?

A lot of that will be dictated by whatever comes next – both within this offseason, and then on the field in 2023 and beyond. If the Cubs do start winning in 2023, we’ll view the second half of 2022 as a clear corner-turn, much like we came to view 2014. If the Cubs struggle again next year, then we will undoubtedly focus more on the back-to-back years of punting, and the ugly overall records.

There will be more season analysis ahead, but I think my biggest takeaway from the year is going to revolve around the progress we’ve seen being the TYPE I would’ve wanted to see from the start. We can debate how MUCH progress there has been – whether it is enough to be justified in optimism about 2023 – but I really wanted to see continued progress in the Cubs’ ability to develop young pitching (huge check), to develop hitters at the big league level specifically (check-ish?), and to be one of those whole-is-more-than-the-sum-of-the-parts teams.

That last one is a little tricky to evaluate with certainty, but it certainly feels like the Cubs have won more games in the second half than their available and healthy talent would suggest they should have. Does that prove they’ve got something figured out in how to maximize performance, match-ups, coaching, etc., to wring out extra wins? Nah. Can’t go that far yet. But I think it’s a data point.

For what it’s worth: at midseason, the Cubs’ record was tremendously unlucky by Base Runs (i.e., the underlying data suggested the Cubs should have a much better record than they did). As we sit here today? The Cubs’ record is actually one win more than expected by Base Runs. The Cubs started winning a ton more games in the second half than their underlying performance suggested they should have. Is that just noise? Is there some organizational signal there? Remains to be seen. Wouldn’t put too much in it just yet, but I thought it was interesting. I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that sometimes there’s just a lot of luck in baseball.

None of that is to say that 2022 was an unabashed success. Obviously it wasn’t! The Cubs still lost 88 games, were completely out of the playoff picture within a month, and saw injuries and/or underperformance from a number of players who could’ve been very important. I’m saying only that if the lens is wide enough to take in the big picture, I saw a lot of the type of progress I would’ve hoped to see this year.

I suppose the other big picture thing I’ll think about from 2022 is how I had a lot of fun despite the Cubs’ poor overall record, and despite the lockout that really soured me in advance of the season. If you’d asked me in March if there was a chance I could look back on the season and feel like I really enjoyed myself, I probably would say, “Sure, but only if the Cubs somehow win 100 games.” I guess I underestimated how much of a sucker I am for baseball. We’ll see in the years ahead if most fans feel the same way.

On that last one, it probably helps that Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols made history this season, that multiple long playoff droughts ended, and it was generally an entertaining season.

Thank you to all of you for reading, commenting, participating, and being a part of this world. The end results of this Cubs season weren’t great, but I enjoyed myself far more than I had any reason to. Being here and doing this work is a huge part of that. So, thank you again.

On to the offseason. I’m as excited for this one as any since maybe 2017, because the Cubs have every ingredient you’d want for an active one: tons of payroll space, prospect trade capital, and a sense of urgency to improve.

Just for fun: Over/Under Chicago Cubs wins in 2023? Right now I’ll say 84.5

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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.