When is it time to worry about certain Cubs’ batting averages? Would now be OK?
Anthony Rizzo is hitting .239.
Addison Russell is hitting .234, and his team-high 40 strikeouts included four whiffs Sunday in a 1-0 loss to the Giants.
Javy Baez’ average is .238, Miguel Montero’s is .231 and Jorge Soler’s is .192.
Jason Heyward, who is out for a few games with a torso bruise, is hitting .225.
The Cubs are lucky that David Ross, a career .229 hitter who hit .176 last season, is at .250. Will that hold up the rest of the year? Will Ben Zobrist’s .338? If you say they will, then you have to leave open the possibility that some of their teammates’ poor averages will remain the same too.
June is fast approaching. The sample size is healthy enough to suggest that the Cubs are on the verge of a problem.
But what does that problem mean? The Cubs have the best record in baseball, despite a decent number of their players struggling at the plate. However, they lead the majors in walks, and their on-base percentage is third best.
The real question here is whether you believe the Cubs’ pitching can continue to be this dominant. If you do, then the lack of hitting isn’t as much an issue. I don’t see their 2.70 earned-run average, the best in baseball, holding up. I see two older pitchers, John Lackey (37) and Jon Lester (32), who will cool off as the season grinds on.
Perhaps we’ve reached the inevitable point where we’re looking for problems that aren’t there. It’s what happens with dominant teams. You start looking at the supermodel for imperfections. This supermodel is 4-8 in its last 12 games.
Rizzo and Heyward have to get their averages up for the Cubs to get where they want to be at the end of the season. You can only applaud walks from your best players for so long.