The Cubs struggled to hit in 2020. Many key players had rough seasons, and the lineup as a whole looked particularly punchless at times. There were struggles with the bases loaded, situational hitting, making contact, pretty much every aspect of hitting. It was hard to watch.
In 202, the Cubs ranked in the MLB:
wRC+: 21st with 91
Batting average: 27th with .220
OBP: 18th .318
SLG: 24th .387
wOBA 19th .309
Runs scored: 20th 265
In years prior, they had been a much better hitting team. What happened in 2020?
4 of their biggest hitters had the worst seasons of their career. 2 more hitters had subpar seasons, compared to their career marks. Here are players with over 50 PAs in 2020:
To show you the shocking disparity between this year's numbers and their career norms, I'm putting each player's career wRC+ in parenthesis.
Bryant (136), Baez (101), Kyle Schwarber (113) and Rizzo (131) had their worst ever full seasons (by wRC+). Baez and Bryant were significantly lower, nearly by 50 each.
Willson Contreras (116) was subpar. Slightly.
David Bote (100) was also subpar. Although he did lead the team in RBI!
Victor Caratini (88) put a dent in his young career numbers.
Nico Hoerner (72) struggled to a 63 wRC+
Jason Heyward (108) put up his best wRC+ since his rookie year (134 then).
Ian Happ (116) Improved off a 127 wRC+ 2019 to a 131 wRC+ 2020
Jason Kipnis (103) was a nice surprise. After several years of wRC+ in the 80s, he rebounded as a part timer.
Obviously, it was a tough season. Things were interrupted, routines were messed up, and there wasn't a whole lot of time for players to figure it out. Baez mentioned the lack of in game video was a issue for him. Kris Bryant was hurt off and on as he missed half a season. It's sure to be a topic of discussion all off season, and I plan to take a closer look at some of these players to see if I can identify a couple of key points that went wrong, and examine if they are fixable or not. For starters though, it's no surprise the Cubs struggled as a team. When basically half the team is below 100 wRC+, there are going to be issues. Especially throwing in 76 or worse on three of those hitters, times are going to be rough.
Somehow 10 more teams were arguably worse than the Cubs with the bats. Perhaps pitching had an advantage with some of Manfred's rule tweaking. There was so much bad offense, it's going to be quite a bit to unpack. But hey, we've got all offseason.