After watching the Chicago Cubs closely during the first week of the season, something that was noticeable was their aggressiveness out on the bases. If that trait continues, it will be a welcomed positive sight to see in Chicago not commonly seen in past seasons. While that aggressiveness has led to a few outs committed on the base paths, the Cubs now have to take the next step and develop smart base-running aggression.
The first week of the season saw some positives and negatives for Rick Renteria‘s club. The major negative can be found at the plate, with the team only hitting .216 in the first six games. Getting guys on base and driving them in were limited in the first few games of the season. But once given the opportunity, the Cubs were willing to make things happen on the bases, which is a positive sign. That continued type of effort is what will win fans over long-term this season.
For the hot start Emilio Bonifacio is off to, the first week also saw him get picked off twice, and easily could have been three times leading to inning-killers. Ryan Kalish has also been erased from first base as well. But pushing the boundaries with lead-offs has allowed Chicago to be 5-5 in stolen bases to start 2014.
Trying to take an extra base on an overthrow, Junior Lake was nabbed in a rundown for an out. On the flip side, Darwin Barney was aggressive and scored from second base on an infield hit over the weekend. Kalish, Bonifacio and others are also looking to go first to third on most balls put into play. Starlin Castro is running harder out of the batter’s box as well. In the finale against the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago’s aggressiveness led to a season-high eight runs scored, which doubled their 2014 output from the first five games.
With the Cubs facing an uphill battle in the NL Central, taking chances on the bases is a good thing for the team. Praise for that in the first week can be given to Renteria, and base coaches Eric Hinske and Gary Jones. If the offense is only able to produce limited scoring chances this year, the aggressiveness on the bases can help create more opportunities. Putting pressure on the defense can lead to big innings and rallies for a team that needs every advantage it can create. For the Cubs, they just need to learn how to be smart with that aggressiveness before it takes them out of more rallies this season.