David Bote’s walk-off grand slam Sunday to beat the Nationals aside, the Cubs have not been a power-packed bunch this season.
Their 122 home runs rank 10th in the National League, where the league average is 130. Including runners on base, the Cubs have scored 194 runs on homers. That’s also 10th in the NL and makes them one of six teams below 200.
That’s a sharp contrast from 2017, when the Cubs homered 223 times, just one behind the NL-leading Brewers and Mets.
Nevertheless, the Cubs lead the NL with 576 runs, 16 more than the runner-up Dodgers and 55 more than the league average. In fact, their 4.92 runs per game are topped by only three teams in the designated-hitter-boosted American League: the Red Sox (5.49), Yankees (5.20) and Indians (5.08).
Major-league teams have scored 40.33 percent of their runs on homers this season. In the NL, the percentage is slightly lower at 39.15.
The Cubs have been one of the least homer-dependent teams, with 33.68 percent of their runs coming via homer. Only the Giants (33.40 percent of their 482 runs) are lower in the NL.
A large part of that is on-base percentage. The Cubs lead the majors with a .343 OBP, three points better than the Red Sox and eight points better than the Reds, who have the second-best OBP in the NL.
The Cubs are near the top in all OBP components, ranking second in the majors to the Red Sox (.270) with a .265 batting average, second to the Dodgers (455) with 444 walks and third behind the Rays (71) and Rangers (68) with 61 times hit by a pitch.
The 10 Cubs who have 300 or more plate appearances all have OBPs higher than the NL’s .320 average. Topping the list is Ben Zobrist at .393, which ranks 10th in the majors and fifth in the NL. He’s followed by injured Kris Bryant (.380), with Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ all at .363. Willson Contreras (.362), Jason Heyward (.344), Albert Almora Jr. (.336), Addison Russell (.335) and Javy Baez (.325) round out the 10.
The Cubs’ batting average with runners in scoring position has been rising in the summer. It was a lowly .235 in mid-June, but it has risen to .247 and now is within six points of the NL average.
Even with a below-average batting average with runners in scoring position, the Cubs have been the NL’s best team in terms of RBI with runners in scoring position. They have 405 RBI with RISP, with the Braves (391), Pirates (383) and Reds (379) next in the NL.
The Brewers, who come to Wrigley Field for a two-game series starting Tuesday, have gone about business differently. Of their 533 runs, 43.4 percent have come on their 152 homers.
Led by Jose Aguilar’s 29 homers and Travis Shaw’s 23, the Brewers have been overpowering the opposition. But for the less homer-dependent Cubs, the key has been plenty of runners on base.