The Rundown: Cubs About to Bust Out Offensively, Minor Downside of Success, Get Your Own Cubs World Series Ring

Look up and down the Cubs’ lineup and you’ll see some batting average numbers that look about as withered as the rose bushes I recently transplanted. But just as the shock from the move should wear off for my flowers (fingers crossed), so too will the bats come alive on the North Side. We saw some pretty clear signs in the latter two games in Milwaukee, though I noticed something else in Wednesday’s loss to the Dodgers.

It’s obvious to anyone watching that Kyle Schwarber is as good as it gets when it comes to seeing pitches. In fact, he’s sitting atop the NL leaderboard in pitches per plate appearance (currently at 4.68). That has led to a robust .382 on-base percentage that sits 160 points higher than his batting average. While it’s far too early for those numbers to have stabilized, the gap in Schwarber’s stats is indicative of improvements on the horizon.

I wondered if that was indicative of further improvements for the Cubs’ offense as a whole, so I looked at team average and OBP to find out which teams had the largest differences.

Team Avg OBP Diff
Dodgers .243 .345 .102
Tigers .213 .314 .101
Twins .222 .322 .100
Cubs .244 .336 .092
Yankees .259 .338 .079
Rays .250 .326 .076
Giants .250 .324 .074
Phillies .249 .322 .073
Red Sox .272 .345 .073
A’s .240 .312 .072
Nationals .300 .371 .071
Astros .266 .337 .071
Angels .282 .343 .061
Marlins .271 .332 .061
D-backs .283 .341 .058
Reds .277 .332 .055

As you can see, the Cubs are up near the top of the NL, just 10 points behind the Dodgers. The team average figures to settle in somewhere closer to .250 or even .260 and the OBP should improve along with it. That’s not a huge shift, but the point is that patience and taking pitches is a little more stable than some of the factors that go into batting average. For instance, Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo hit a couple balls right on the screws last night only to see them die on the warning track.

That naturally leads us to slugging percentage, where the Cubs have been somewhat lacking thus far. Their .348 mark sits 13th in the NL, roughly 80 points below the number they put up last season. And they have a mere .104 team ISO, 14th in the NL and 69 points lower than they posted in 2016. They’ve hit only 5 home runs, ahead of only the Pirates (4), none of which came in that 17-hit drubbing of the Brewers this past Saturday.

All of this leads to the inevitable conclusion that the Cubs probably suck and are doomed to be the most massively disappointing team ever. Either that or they’re about to bust out and just pound the crap out of the ball for about a week straight. Once Wrigley finally warms up, we’re going to seem some mad positive regression.

New Wrigley will take getting used to

I’ve been way out in front of the “I’m good with changes to Wrigley” movement that seems to have gained a little traction over the last few years. The updates have generally been well received thus far, though there is a downside to some of the team’s success and the resultant swell in popularity that has accompanied it.

Perhaps it was just the low temps forcing people from their seats, but the concourse was an absolute crush at all points of the game. Vendors were backed up on food orders, bathroom lines were crazy long, trash carts and dollies struggled to part the seas. I’m sure this will all calm down as the weather warms and the pregame celebrations are no longer taking place, it’s just that it’s very obvious the whole Wrigley experience has been ratcheted up a bit.

It’s pretty silly to lament your team’s success, particularly when it’s based primarily on your own comfort when going to the ballpark, so I guess I’m going to have to get used to having to hit multiple spots in order to get my Buona Beef.

Buy your own Cubs World Series ring

Jostens, the same company that sold you a high school class ring, designed the jewelry handed out to the Cubs Wednesday night and now they’d like to offer you the opportunity to have a custom ring of your own.

The Limited Edition “108” Fan Ring is of special significance because it’s been 108 years since the Cubs last won the World Series and only 108 of these exclusive rings are available. Based on the Players’ Championship Award Ring, the ring top features the Cubs logo crafted from genuine rubies surrounded by round diamonds and custom-cut genuine sapphires. WORLD CHAMPIONS adorns the top and bottom edges. The left side features a name and a silhouette of the Wrigley Field marquee with the message CUBS WIN! on a background of bricks and ivy. The right side includes the year 2016 and the iconic “W” Flag featuring a blue corundum on a waving flag of pavé-set diamonds atop a background of bricks and ivy.

If you aren’t one of the first 108 people willing and able to shell out $10,800, Jostens has some other items that range from only a few hundred dollars to in the neighborhood of six or seven large.

More news and notes

  • Carlos Rondon left Wednesday’s game with what is being called a sore knee; more today on his status
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