It’s not surprising that the Cubs are cutting a path of destruction through their schedule. It’s stunning that they are doing it without actually hitting the baseball, which is sort of the idea. It’s frightening to think of what they might do when they start.
Look at the batting averages heading into Monday’s game in Pittsburgh and try not to cry for the ancient art of hitting.
Ben Zobrist is hitting .250, Anthony Rizzo .220, Addison Russell .216 and Jason Heyward .211. Of the team’s regulars, only Dexter Fowler (.350) is killing it. Kris Bryant is doing well at .287.
As the stats freaks will correctly point out, the Cubs lead the majors in walks (124), and are second in on-base percentage (.359) and runs (139). You don’t need to hit the ball when the other team can’t throw strikes. And Rizzo’s batting average is a bad synopsis of his story. He leads the Cubs in home runs (eight), runs batted in (24) and walks (19). His slash line of .220/.385/.561 had a couple of the team broadcasters musing on air whether he could win National League Most Valuable Players despite that batting average. Easy there, fellas.
Baseball players want to hit the baseball. We all know what our coaches told us growing up, that a walk is as good as a hit, but hitters don’t feel that way deep down. There is something almost primal about hitting a baseball hard. Anyone who has played the game at any level knows that. You don’t reminisce about your game-winning walk.
When the Cubs do start hitting – and they’re too good not to – it’s going to be scary. They already have the best record in baseball. The White Sox are in the same boat. They have the best record in the American League because of their pitching. They have several players hitting well, including Melky Cabrera (.298), Brett Lawrie (.290) and Adam Eaton (.283), but Jose Abreu (.240) and Todd Frazier (.220) haven’t hit the ball consistently.
Maybe both teams will keep going like this, with their pitchers dominating the opposition and their own hitters lagging behind. But I don’t see that happening, especially with the Cubs.
Watching Jake Arrieta and Chris Sale mowing down hitters is very satisfying. Imagine the satisfaction if their teammates starting hitting.