By Diego Sanchez
The 2016 World Series officially ended the infamous 108-year drought that left the Cubs without a championship for over a century, but this was almost six years ago and Cubs fans need to move on. After shipping off Cubs icons like Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant all in the span of 24 hours, the Cubs have started to fall back to where it all started. Although young stars like Seiya Suzuki and Patrick Wisdom could be the future of the MLB, the Cubs are still struggling.
The Cubs sit at 7-10 and are only ahead of the 3-14 Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division. This may not seem all that bad, especially considering how they are not last, but their struggles are deeper than just their mediocre record and subpar roster.
The Cubs are hitting an average of .246 which is above the MLB average of .234 and looking at the other basic baseball stats it does not reek of a bad ballclub. So why are they losing?
According to Baseball Savant, a Baseball website that uses advanced stat cast and sabermetrics and presents them in a simple-to-view way, the Cubs are the worst team in the MLB in barrel percentage, hard-hit percentage, and exit velocity. This means that although the Cubs are getting hits they are not actually making solid contact and getting a well-deserved hit. Another stat that was looked at was XBA (Expected Batting Average) and XSLG (Expected Slugging Percentage). These two stats measure the probability that each ball hit in play by the Cubs will be a hit or an extra-base hit. The Cubs rank dead last in both of these stats.
The average batting average for an MLB player in 2021 was .244 which means a player got a hit in 24.4 percent of at-bats. The Chicago Cubs have a total of eight players hitting under .244 and almost all of these players are in the starting lineup.
The MLB season is still young so there is still time for improvement for the Cubs, but they will not be able to win many more games with how they are hitting. Now, what can the Cubs do to solve this problem of bad hitting?
As the DH has now made its way into the National League a player like Trey Mancini or Josh Bell could be very helpful to the Cubs roster. These players keep high batting averages while also having high home run totals. According to The Athletic, Trey Mancini will be traded within weeks or months by the Orioles. This would be a great time for the Cubs to submit a trade to acquire “The Hitman” as he could be a real contributor to the roster. Mancini has a career average of .270 and a .331 on-base percentage and is not a player that the Cubs would have to give a lot up for.
Josh Bell is a switch-hitting power bat who currently plays for the Washington Nationals and is a very good hitter. Bell is currently hitting an average of .351 and is slugging .506. Bell is almost certainly worth more than Mancini but comes with a higher upside and the possibility of a true breakout season that could take the Cubs to the playoffs.
One trade or adjustment will not solve all of the Cub’s current problems, but adding a player like Mancini or Bell could make the Cubbies contenders for the NL Central.