Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A lack of patience

The Cubs offesnive output is now equal to that of the lame duck 2004 Expos--12 runs in a 10 game stretch. Even with that they still have their defenders, or in this case one defender...Dusty Baker. According to the Cub manager/enabler it's just bad luck. Here are his comments in the Tribune today:

"These guys are hitting the ball hard, if you haven't noticed," Baker said. "They're hitting the ball hard to right, they're hitting the ball hard everywhere.

"I mean, these things go in cycles. Everybody says it's about the offense. It's not.

"You have to find holes. A lot of it depends on how you're hitting the ball. If you're just popping up and hitting weak ground balls, you're not going to find any holes."

This thing goes way beyond luck or chance. One of the big things that Baker misses completely is the impatient approach that the Cub hitters take. Currently the Cubs are tied for last place in the NL in walks. This has been the trend since Baker and his merry men took over. In 2003 the Cubs ranked 14th in walks(492), in 2004 they ranked 14th again(489), last year they fell to last in the NL in walks(419).

The pitches per plate appearance tell the same story. In 2003 the Cubs were 10th in the NL (3.68). In 2004 they fell to 15th in the NL (3.63). Last season they stayed in 15th place(3.60). This year the Cubs are actually seeing a few more pitches per AB (3.71) thanks in large part to young Matt Murton's patient approach at the plate. Still the Cubs rank 12th in the NL. Here is where the Cub regulars with 85+ AB's stand this season in pitches per AB.

Walker 3.74
Murton 3.72
Jones 3.68
Pierre 3.63
Barrett 3.61
Ramirez 3.60
Cedeno 3.23
(take a long look at the bottom guy and you may understand another bloggers stance on a certain player)

Not only has Baker missed the whole idea of patience, so have his hitting coaches Sarge Matthews and Gene Clines. More alarming, Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry has completely ignored the success that patient teams have had offensively over the past several year, most notably the Boston Red Sox.

While the Cubs once again struggle offensively, it is real hard for me to figure why the Cubs have just ignored SABRmetrics over the past few seasons. The Cubs take a 1970's approach, while there are tools available to help them build a better offensive club. Everybody knows that these tools are available, why do they ignore what the numbers say?

My conclusion is that it will take regime change to see the Cubs take a different approach at the plate. Until that change the Cubs will remain in the bottom third of league in walks and pitches per AB. As a result, they probably won't score very many runs.

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