A lack of plate patience has been yet another on-going problem for the Cubs this season.
Chicago’s free swinging and overly aggressive approach does a lot to explain why the Cubs stink at hitting with runners on base.
When you don’t have a lineup that’s collectively working the count, you don’t work the opposing pitcher. When you don’t work the opposing pitcher, you lesson his chances for making a mistake. And hitting the mistake pitch is often the difference maker in winning and losing games.
When a lineup does show a little patience, however, they gain the benefit of tiring out a strong arm and hitting in a more favorable count. This in turn leads to putting batters on base, moving runners over and forcing the pitcher into the stretch.
That doesn’t mean swinging at the first pitch is a bad idea. We’re well aware many batters earn their highest success swinging at strike one. But not every batter in the lineup needs to do so!
Lately, the Cubs have shown a good deal of plate patience having drawn four or more walks in five of its last seven games. And when Chicago collects four or more walks in a game this season they’re three games above .500 (20-17).
On Monday the Cubs worked five free passes against Reds starter Dontrelle Willis, which helped lead to four earned runs off him…good enough for a 4-3 win.
On Sunday the Cubs drew a season-high nine walks against Pirates pitching, the most they’ve had in a a single game since mid-September last year, and won 6-3.
Carlos Pena, in particular, has drawn 13 walks over his last six games. He continues to lead the club with 87 free passes, good for third best in the NL. But after Pena it all goes south in the Cubs’ walk department.
Kosuke Fukudome, believe it or not, remains second on the team with 46 walks. Then it’s Big Geo with 41, Aramis with 36, Castro 26 and Soriano 22.
By comparison, Boston, long known for its patient approach, has five players with 40 or more free passes. The Yankees also have five players, Philadelphia four, as well.
Patience, by all accounts, has been hard to come by this season on the North Side. But a little more at the plate should mean a few more wins in September…with the hope that next season it becomes a trend.