With the recent off-season departures of Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, the Cubs have a markedly different lineup than that of recent seasons.
Not only do the Cubs stand little means of replacing their production with players such as Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart, they lack really any power production outside of … wait for it … Alfonso Soriano. If one were to project a lineup for next year, it might look something like this:
- RF David DeJesus
- SS Starlin Castro
- CF Marlon Byrd
- 1B Bryan LaHair
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- C Geovany Soto
- 3B Ian Stewart
- 2B Darwin Barney
Of those players, only Alfonso Soriano and Ian Stewart tend to generate more fly balls than grounders. Projecting home runs is simple enough: you can’t hit home runs off the grounders.
The upcoming Cubs team will consist of players who simply just pound the ball into the ground, and hope it gets through a hole in the defense.
It’s not all that bad of a philosophy. Ground balls are more prone to generate base hits than fly balls do, however ground balls do not have nearly as good a slugging percentage as fly balls do. Also, luck plays much more of a factor — good or bad — on ground balls and could prove to be a driving factor to a winning or losing streak.
The top twelve luckiest hitters last season (according to batting average on balls in play) on the roster all had a tendency to hit the ball in the ground. If a few hitters string together a few good hits, then the Cubs could stand to win a few more games than critics give them credit for.
With two key offensive players gone to free agency, the Cubs will stand to have a much more ‘National League’ team, meaning they won’t flash sexy RBI or home run numbers, but they could stand to go on a winning streak here and there based solely on batting average on balls in play.
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