Terrible Offense Highlights Chicago Cubs Early Trends
With just two weeks of evidence to work with, it can be tricky to distinguish which trends are small sample size noise and which ones are signs of more things to come. Based on advanced metrics, peripheral stats, and good old fashioned past performance, here are some Chicago Cubs trends to believe in or disregard.
Chicago Cubs Early Season Trends
Terrible Offense – The Cubs have gotten off to an unimpressive start at the plate. Scoring only 3.5 runs per game, they are on pace to be one of the worst scoring teams in the league. The shape of the scoring output is likely to change; Nate Schierholtz won’t be batting .355 while Anthony Rizzo sits at .158 in a month. However, there’s no reason to expect great things from this team offensively. With only Starlin Castro, Trade-Bait Soriano, and Rizzo as the only players who have proven they can bat well at this level, the walk-fearing Cubs will continue to struggle to score.
Decent Starting Pitching – This is a mixed bag varying from pitcher to pitcher. Jeff Samardzija’s success is legitimate. He seems to have picked up where he left of last year before getting with a 12.36 K/9 trailing only A.J. Burnett in the national league. The low walk rate and high rate of ground balls generated of 62.8 percent are also encouraging. Carlos Villanueva’s 0.64 ERA is an obvious candidate for regression to the production level of mere mortals. Those batting against Travis Wood have only hit ground balls 35.3 percent of the time and have hit only .235 on balls put in play. All those line drives and fly balls will turn into hits and home runs before long. Scott Feldman has pitched just as bad as his results have indicated, but Edwin Jackson is sure to turn things around based on his respectable performance in regards to strikeouts and walks so far.
Marmol – Yup. He’s this bad. No advanced stats required, the man can’t find the strike zone.
The rest of the bullpen – Not enough innings here from any player to make any real conclusions. The most notable fluky performance is Kyuji Fujikawa’s double digit ERA. Nothing about how he’s pitched here or in Japan indicates that batters will continue to hit .471 on balls in play against him or that base runners will be left stranded over 40 percent of the time. He will be useful after he returns from injury.
4-8 Record – While technically it would be surprising if this club lost over 100 games as that record projects to, the general idea is not far off. There is below .500 level talent on the field, and being outscored 54-42 through 12 gives no indication that anyone should change their mind about this team.