For once, it's not Starlin Castro's fault.
Castro is one of about seven Cubs hitters that are actually doing alright, if not great, so far. The Valbuena/Olt platoon is about as "meh" as you thought it would be, and Welington Castillo at least has a few extra-base hits to his name. Castro, along with Lake, Rizzo, and Emilio "Smoking Hot Start" Bonifacio, are all hitting like a league-average player at their respective positions, if not better.
And then there's the rest of the outfield: 2013 breakout hitter Nate Schierholtz, platoon dudes Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney, and rebound-hopeful Ryan Kalish.
As a unit -- including Lake and Bonifacio, that is -- the Cubs' outfield is hitting .245 as of this morning, with 2 home runs and 61 strikeouts in 242 plate appearances. They have as many RBIs as they do walks -- 16.
If you focus in on the four problem children, the numbers are really bad. Nate, Sweeney, Kalish, and Ruggiano are hitting .195 with zero home runs and six doubles in 137 plate appearances. They've struck out 37 times and walked just 10.
Schierholtz and Sweeney are each in the bottom 10 among position players in WAR, as measured by Fangraphs, thus far (backup catcher John Baker is tied with Sweeney in half as many PAs). Kalish and Ruggiano are both hitting worse than Nate, but just haven't played as much. Those five hitters -- Nate, Sweeney, Baker, Kalish, Rooj -- have combined for -1.7 fWAR so far this year. And it's only April 17th.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I know it's early. Slow starts happen (although, as I mentioned, these starts are among the slowest for any hitters in baseball). Regardless, if you want to know why this offense is blowing and getting shutting out twice in one day by the Yankees, here's your answer: most of the outfield isn't doing anything.
I'll close by paraphrasing myself from Twitter last night: it's always fun to find a diamond in the rough, a neat t-shirt at the bottom of the box in the thrift store. But there's a reason that shirt is in the thrift store: even if it looks cool right now, there's plenty chance it might just dissolve into nothing the first time you wash it.
Brb, have to stop laughing. Was imagining Vitters-Lake-Bonifacio from left to right in the outfield against lefties.
Thanks for reading; if you enjoyed it, please share with others. And if you'd like to be updated on my future posts, and those from the rest of the Cubs Insider team, you can subscribe below.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
Filed under: Uncategorized