Throughout the Chicago Cubs first 10 game of 2021 MLB Season, much has been made regarding their offense or lack thereof.
Entering play on Tuesday, the Cubs currently have a team batting average of .162 and that is the worst batting average among all Major League Baseball teams. The struggles for the Cubs are more of the same as the team has struggled offensively dating back to September of 2018.
The Cubs acknowledged the fact that there was offensive was broken at the end of the 2019. Despite acknowledging that their offense was broken, the Cubs did little to fix their problems entering the 2020 season and that would be the reason for the team’s continued struggles last year.
Outside of replacing left fielder Kyle Schwarber with free agent Joc Pederson, the Cubs essentially ran it back in 2021 with the same starting lineup. The difference, in 2021, is that Cubs manager Davis Ross has been trying to implement is the mindset that players have at the plate. The mindset that Ross wants the players to have offensively this season is to be selfish.
What does that mean?
Currently, there are two players for the Cubs that are examples of what the correct selfish approach is and what the incorrect selfish approach is.
The Cubs’ player that has embraced the correct selfish approach is third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant has a slash line of .265/.375/.647/1.022 with 3 home runs through the first 10 games of the season for the Cubs. Bryant appears to be regaining his offensive form after a down 2020 season and that is in large part due to Ross emphasizing a selfish approach for his hitters.
What this means is that Bryant is no longer sitting back waiting for a perfect pitch within a plate appearance. Instead, if a pitcher makes a mistake in the zone, Bryant is going to take advantage of that mistake. Look no further than Bryant’s hard hit percentage for the 2021 season is 39%-a 9% increase from the 30% he had in 2020.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, Bryant is the only hitter that has embraced that form of selfish approach.
For an example of the incorrect selfish approach, look no further than Javier Baez. On the season, Baez has a slash line of .242/.382/.514/.796 with 3 home runs. While Baez has shown the power thus far this season, there is a more concerning trait that could spell doom for the Cubs’ shortstop. Outside of the 3 home runs and 1 double that Baez has this season, the Cubs’ shortstop is having uncompetitive at bat after uncompetitive at bat this season. This is all the result of Baez having the incorrect selfish approach.
Long story short, Baez is essentially swinging at everything. Baez’s walk percentage this season is 2.6% and that is projected to be the lowest percentage of his career. Further complicating matters, Baez’s 43.6 strikeout percentage this season would be a career high. Putting those two numbers together and it is no wonder why Baez’s soft hit percentage of 20% this season is up from the 17.4% he had last season.
Unlike Bryant, Baez is simply swinging at everything with the hope that an opposing pitcher would a mistake. The issue with that approach is opposing pitchers are aware of that fact and thus, any mistake they make are made outside of the strike zone because they know Baez will ultimately swing. That is not the right selfish approach to have.
There is no doubt that Chicago Cubs offense needs to be selfish. But, selfish in the form of taking advantage of a pitcher making a mistake in the strike zone as opposed to waiting for the perfect pitch to hit or simply swinging at everything.