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There are many positives to take from the Cubs’ first nine games of the 2022 season. The hitting approach, for the most part–compared to the past couple of seasons–has drastically improved.

The Chicago Cubs rank in the top half of most offensive categories very early in the season. The Cubs are first in batting average, first in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, and first in OPS. The players are accumulating hits–but not by the long ball. The Cubs rank  18th in home runs, yet they’re 14th in runs scored.  Cubs’ batters not depending on the long ball to produce runs shows a drastic shift in the plate approach compared to the last few seasons. The Cubs tend to strike first, scoring 11 runs in the first inning in the first nine games. 


The newly-acquired Japanese slugger, Seiya Suzuki, has continued to dominate and has been the best hitter in the Cubs’ lineup. Suzuki leads the team in hits with nine, first with a .543 on-base percentage, first with a .960 slugging percentage, and first with a 1.503 OPS, and first with seven walks.

Photo: Via Getty Images

Seiya brought over his elite approach to the plate. He has nine walks and nine strikeouts in his first eight games and got a hit in his first eight starts–an MLB record. Another record: Seiya Suzuki is the first player to total eight RBIs and four walks over his first four career games since RBI became a stat–in 1920. In addition to his elite eye, Suzuki has elite power, leading the team with four home runs and 11 RBIs. In his first week on the northside, Suzuki has played up to his potential–and even more. He will be a centerpiece to the next winning Cubs team.


Other hitters have excelled early in the season. Ian Happ and Willson Contreras have produced strong starts.

Contreras is second on the team with a .982 OPS, second with three doubles, and second with two home runs.

Contreras commits to staying focused amidst contract negotiations and hearings. “Believe me, I’m really calmed down. I’m really focused on my season.”

Ian Happ began the opening series on fire and has a .346 batting average, .433 on-base percentage, and an OPS of .856. Despite a slow 1-21 start, Patrick Wisdom has dominated in the past three games against the Rockies. Since Friday, Wisdom has hit five doubles and batted 6-9.


Despite the great start offensively, some issues have risen as well. For example, baserunning has been very bad to start the season.

Rafael Ortega, who has led off for the Cubs in numerous games, has been caught stealing twice in two attempts. The Cubs only have one stolen base in four attempts, coming from Nico Hoerner. Situational hitting has been an interesting issue. The Cubs have hit into many double plays–which can be seen as both positive and negative. The Cubs are getting on base at a high rate. However, the plate approach needs to adjust. Momentum shifts quickly in baseball, and hitting into double plays at a historically high rate can change the game’s momentum.


Finally, the Cubs’ starting pitching was a question mark to begin the season. Nine games into the season, it’s still a huge question mark.

In the opening series against the Brewers, starting pitching was phenomenal. Starters allowed only two runs in 15.1 innings. However, in the series against the Pirates and Rockies, starters began to struggle. Kyle Hendricks pitched well against the Brewers, but his season stats are awful. In two games, Hendricks has pitched nine innings, allowing 12 hits, seven earned runs, and a 2.111 WHIP. In addition, Kyle has struggled with his command and has allowed a league-leading seven walks. The pitching staff has a 4.27 ERA, 21st in the league.


The Cubs are 5-4 through nine games. The Cubs split their series against Colorado and will travel back home for a three-game set against the Rays and a four-game set against the Pirates. 

 

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