Cubs Offense In Funk As Season Winds Down

A lack of power and inconsistent approaches are of concern to the Cubs.

Bruce Levine
September 12, 2018 - 6:54 pm
Kris Bryant

Sergio Estrada/USA Today Sports


CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The Cubs have spent a big portion of the season near the top of the National League in runs scored. As of Wednesday, they still led in runs scored, RBIs and on-base percentage. 

Those are crazy revelations considering the overall slump of the hitters as of late. The Cubs have averaged 3.9 runs per game over the past 14 games. On the season, the Cubs have scored an average of 4.8 runs per game.

The Cubs also entered play Wednesday with a run differential of plus-111, which ranked second in the National League behind the Dodgers.

While that stat is often used to show dominance, sometimes numbers can be misleading as well. 

"It's true we have not struck the ball as well as we can," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We were 5-5 on our recent trip. There were very difficult elements. I give our guys a ton of credit. It could be plus-plus velocity we face plus fatigue equals soft contact. I don't know exactly what is going on. We do have to get back hitting the ball like we can."

The Cubs' power has been down, as they're fourth in the NL in slugging percentage and ninth in home runs. Javier Baez has a team-best 30 homers, Kyle Schwarber has 25 and Anthony Rizzo has 24, but only two other Cubs have reached double-digits.

For the Cubs, the power outage is a matter of approach.

"We have had a lot of conversations about it," Maddon said. "Our hitting guys devour video and data information. Right now, the hard contact is just not there for the most part. Don't have any solid explanation. I really don't."

Under the Maddon regime, the Cubs never have mandatory batting practice. That's a tactic the players have responded well to over the past four seasons. The players are free to take extra BP and work in the video room as well as take infield drills.

The work ethic is solid, but the slugging result remains tepid right now. The overall impact of Kris Bryant's injury is a major factor. Bryant has three doubles and no other extra-base hits since returning Sept. 1 from six weeks on the disabled list with a labrum injury.

"We have tried to lay low with extra BP (because of schedule) not swinging so much," Maddon said. "I am not sure if the malaise is because of 24 games in a row now. I don't know if you can tie it into that."

Has a different approach and message from first-year hitting coach Chili Davis been part of the downloading issue for certain players? 

Not in the mind of Maddon, who pointed to Baez, Rizzo and Ben Zobrist having great seasons as proof the slumps are just about player development for the certain players.

"Our guys' actual physical approach seems the same to me for the most part," Maddon said. "Willson (Contreras) has not been the same, Addison (Russell) has had issues. There are things we are not able to discern at this point. It is young guys, young hitters, young baseball players. I do think the velocity and the constant pounding of velocity has something to do with it. Whether it is the starter himself or bullpen guys, velocity has really increased."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.