Cubs Suffering Power Outage

Chicago Cubs HR

It’s clear the Cubs could use more pop in the lineup.

Since leading the National League in home runs in 2004 (the Cubs finished second in MLB to the Yankees & White Sox who tied with 242 HR) Chicago’s seen a steady decline in its overall power numbers.

The threesome of Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano accounted for the lion’s share of home run production from 2007 until the band was broken up in 2010 with the trade of Lee to Atlanta. Aramis was gone a year later and Soriano appears out the door any day now.

From 2009 on the Cubs have had only two players aside from A-Ram, D-Lee and Soriano crack 20+ home runs in a season: Tyler Colvin with 20 (2010) and Carlos Pena with 28 (2011).

Not surprisingly, with Colvin and Pena departed by 2012 the Cubs had but one hitter surpass the 20 home run mark last season: Soriano with 32 HR. The next closest was Bryan LaHair with 16 HR.

The outlook for 2013, unfortunately, isn’t much better. With LaHair traded this offseason to Japan, and Soriano rumored to be headed elsewhere via trade, the Cubs are starved for power at the traditional power positions for an NL team.

Ideally you want your big boppers patrolling the corner outfield and the corner infield. As it stands, the Cubs’ outfield consists of David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz–who combined for 15 HR last season–and a handful of light-hitting backups. So unless Ian Stewart and Louis Valbuena finally reach their potential, it’s basically Anthony Rizzo as the lone power threat at the corners.

Rizzo of course appears to be a lock to reach 20+ home runs for the foreseeable future. He hit 15 HR in 87-games last year, which projects out to roughly 30 bombs over a full season. And thankfully more muscle appears on the horizon.

  • Starlin Castro could develop more power. His home run numbers have increased in each of his first three seasons: 3, 10, 14.
  • Top prospect Jorge Soler, 20, has all the makings of a dynamic major league power hitter. At 6’3″, 205lbs he’s already displayed majestic power shots in the minor leagues; quickly earning the nickname ‘Soler Power’.
  • Outfielder Albert Almora, 18, who was Chicago’s top-pick in the amateur draft last June, could potentially be a 20+ home run hitter.
  • Shortstop Javier Baez, ranked the top prospect in the Midwest League this past season, has shown plenty of raw power.
  • Brett Jackson still has a shot to be a power guy if his revamped swing this offseason pans out.

There are likely to be other prospects who will show power potential and it’s fair to assume the Cubs will eventually dip into the free agent market to land a slugger. My guess is that would most likely come to fruition next winter, although this offseason is far from over and it’s becoming more unpredictable by the day.

But while it’s nice to think about the Cubs’ power production looking upwards in the seasons to come, it’s worth remembering round-trippers don’t mean everything.

What better example than the world champion Giants? San Francisco not only hit 34 fewer home runs than the Cubs did last season, but ranked dead last in all of baseball with 103 dingers.

Pitching and defense have always been the staples of championship teams, but it couldn’t hurt the Cubs’ anemic offense to park a few more hits on Waveland and Sheffield next summer.

About these ads

4 Comments

Filed under Cubs Blog

4 responses to “Cubs Suffering Power Outage

  1. Home runs are all very well and good, Brian, and they are entertaining and exciting. However, your points at the end of the piece are really the most germane. Also, solo shots don’t add up for much unless guys are getting on base ahead of the boppers.

  2. Right. And the Cubs’ OBP has been in decline during the past couple of seasons as well.

    Too many strikeouts and not enough base runners. It takes a team effort.

  3. Merril

    Pitching and defense might win a world series but it’s a fact hitting gets you to the playoffs and it’s normally a long ball that sparks that offense.Anyone who thinks you don’t need a slugger or two are only fans of pitching or teams that are long suffering for lack of the bomb. The appearance of a long ball threat in a couple slots in any lineup create differences in defensive alignments, pitching changes, and control of the pitcher on the mound. It makes humans think what can happen not just what will happen.

  4. At the end of the day you have to to score runs. As soon as I read your response I immediately thought of the Dodgers last year.

    LA had all the pieces for a tremendous offense, but they just couldn’t put it together. And when they finally did it was too late to make the postseason.

    The Cubs definitely need more juice 1 through 8, but it’s only part of the remedy on offense. They really just need to be more balanced all around.

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s