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Smart Aggressiveness on the Base Paths Pays Off For Cubs

The Cubs have looked very aggressive, but very smart on the bases so far this year. If this continues, the Cubs could be trending in the right direction.

Chicago Cubs manager David Ross said to Jordan Bastion of, "It's smart aggressiveness," when referring to the Cubs baserunning in the first series of the regular season.

Quality Baserunning Leading to Runs

  • Willson Contreras going 1st to 3rd/Anthony Rizzo legging out double, scoring on a Joc Pederson sac fly (Thursday)
  • Javier Baez stealing 2nd and 3rd, scoring on a Jake Marisnick bloop single (Saturday)
  • Marisnick going 1st to 3rd, scoring on a David Bote sacrifice fly (Saturday)

Joc Pederson can thank Contreras for his RBI opportunity, as Contreras' aggression set up the opportunity to drive a run in on Thursday. In similar fashion, Bote's RBI was a product of excellent baserunning from Marisnick as well.

Javy making it all the way to 3rd via stolen bags forced the Pirates bring the infield in to prevent him from scoring. That lead to Marisnick's jam shot to right field becoming a RBI hit instead of a bad at-bat.

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Baserunning Metrics

In 2020, the Cubs had 4.7 Baserunning Runs, meaning quality baserunning helped them score nearly an additional five runs in the 60-game season. That metric goes along with what David Ross wanted to do when he became manager. Compare that to the Cubs in 2019, where they had a -2.2 BsR. In conclusion, they were negatively impacting the team on the base paths, instead of creating more opportunities. Now, it seems like they're poised to create runs with their baserunning rather than losing them.

Winning Baseball

What defines "winning baseball" is not concrete, but in the first three games of the season the Cubs were outhit 22-to-12 and still won the series somewhat convincingly. Yes, the Pirates are not a good team, and it should be somewhat alarming that they were outhit by a decent margin, but the Cubs won and does it really matter how that goal is achieved?

The Cubs have become super dependable on extra base hits in recent years, as have many teams, but that can't be an everyday strategy, especially at a windy Wrigley Field. You can really see Cubs baserunners making an effort to get strong reads on pitchers and then take advantage of those reads.

Actively creating opportunities for Cubs hitters to drive runners in, without having to hit the ball in the gap or in the stands, is going to be huge for the Cubs' offense this season. This is going pay off even more when the Cubs are facing top starters in the league such as Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Jack Flaherty.

After a Cubs series victory, their needs to be attention focused on the Cubs' baserunning. So far, the Cubs are manufacturing runs via baserunning and opportune hitting, something this team has struggled with in the past. If this is the new look for the Cubs in 2021, they could be a more consistent team offensively in 2021.