The 2015 Chicago Cubs outperformed expectations and were really two teams in one. In the first half, the Cubs tried to find an identity while Joe Maddon learned what worked and what did not. The Cubs stayed above .500 (47-40) before putting together a two-month run rarely, if never before seen from a Cubs’ team.
The Cubs won 50 of the last 75 games (50-25) in route to a 97-win season and a trip to the post-season.
For the season, the Cubs finished 14th in the National League in batting average (.244), fifth in OBP (.321), seventh in slugging (.398) and sixth in OPS (.719). The Cubs hit the fifth most homers (171) and walked more than any team in the Senior Circuit. The Cubs 567 free passes were second in baseball to only the Toronto Blue Jays. The Cubs led the NL and the majors in strikeouts (1,518) while seeing the most pitches (24,646) in the National League. The Red Sox were the only team that made pitchers work more (24,709) than the Cubs in 2015.
The Cubs were a different team offensively after the break. Kyle Schwarber helped lengthen the lineup. Dexter Fowler turned his season around while having a huge impact on the team and Kris Bryant had two excellent months to wrap up what should be a NL Rookie of the Year campaign.
The Cubs were ninth in the National League in batting average (.250) in the second half, second in OBP (.328), fourth in slugging (.426), third in OPS (.754), second in home runs (94) and led the NL in both walks (274) and pitches seen (11,459).
Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were the constants in the offense during the season.
Anthony Rizzo led the Cubs in most offensive categories for the season. Rizzo batted .278/.387/.512 in 160 games with 38 doubles, three triples and 31 home runs for a .899 OPS. Before the break, Rizzo hit .298/.413/.542 with 24 doubles, two triples and 16 home runs for a .955 OPS. In the second half, Rizzo hit .255/.355/.478 with 14 doubles, a triple, 15 home runs and .833 OPS.
With RISP, Rizzo had an excellent season with a .303/.418/.577 slash line and a .955 OPS. With runners in scoring position with two outs, Rizzo hit .281/.468/.544/1.011. And with the bases loaded, Rizzo was 6-for-12 with a double and a home run.
Kris Bryant was a different player at Wrigley than he was on the road offensively. For the season, Bryant batted .275/.369/.488 with 31 doubles, five triples and 26 home runs for a .858 OPS. Bryant hit an outstanding .311/.408/.629 with 14 doubles, four triples and 21 home runs for a 1.037 OPS in his home park. Outside of Wrigley, Bryant hit only .243/.333/.360 with 17 doubles, a triple and five home runs for a .693 OPS.
Bryant delivered with runners in scoring position to the tune of a .292/.417/.489 with a .906 OPS. With RISP and two outs, Bryant batted .350/.473/.567 with a 1.040 OPS. Bryant was 3-for-9 with the bases loaded and hit two grand slams.
Dexter Fowler’s second half does not stick out when looking at the season as a whole. Fowler hit .250/.346/.411 with 29 doubles, eight triples and 17 home runs for a .757 OPS. Fowler belted a career-high 17 home runs and scored a career-high 102 runs. Fowler was excellent after the break. In 71 games, Fowler hit .272/.389/.463 with 16 doubles, four triples and nine home runs for a .852 OPS.
When looking at the season leaders, it’s easy to see Anthony Rizzo was the rock for the offense as the rookies learned the league and showed improvement as the year progressed.
2015 Team Leaders – Offense
- Average (AVG): Anthony Rizzo – .278
- On-Base Percentage (OBP): Anthony Rizzo – .387
- Slugging Percentage (SLG): Anthony Rizzo – .512
- On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS): Anthony Rizzo – .899
- Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP): Kris Bryant – .378
- Runners in Scoring Position (RISP): Anthony Rizzo – .303
- Runners in Scoring Position w/ Two Outs: Kris Bryant – .350
- Doubles: Anthony Rizzo – 38
- Triples: Dexter Fowler – 8
- Home Runs: Anthony Rizzo – 31
- Extra Basehits (XBH): Anthony Rizzo – 72
- Total Bases: Anthony Rizzo – 300
- Run Batted In (RBI): Anthony Rizzo – 101
- Walks (BB): Dexter Fowler – 84
- Intentional Walks (IBB): Anthony Rizzo – 9
- Strikeouts (SO): Kris Bryant – 199
- Stolen Bases (SB): Dexter Fowler – 20
- Hit By Pitch (HBP): Anthony Rizzo – 30
- Sacrifice Bunts (SAC): Jon Lester – 6
- Sacrifice Fly (SF): Anthony Rizzo – 7
- Ground into Double Play (GIDP): Starlin Castro – 18
- Number of Pitches: Dexter Fowler – 2819
- Pitches per Plate Appearance: Kyle Schwarber – 4.26; Addison Russell – 4.12
A look at the numbers the Cubs put up this season would not be complete without including the second half production of Starlin Castro, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell.
Over his last 65 games of the season, Starlin Castro hit .295/.319/.464 with 15 doubles, a triple, six home runs and a .783 OPS. Kyle Schwarber batted .233/.352/.476 in 63 games with six doubles, 15 home runs and a .828 OPS. And Addison Russell had a .259/.318/.427 slash line that included 13 doubles, a triple and eight home runs for a .744 OPS.