Examining the Cubs' offense after 10 games

733226.png

Examining the Cubs' offense after 10 games

The Cubs are 10 games into 2012 already and though they boast a 3-7 record, there are some positive signs. Unfortunately, not many of those are on offense.

We've already taken a look at the success of the starting rotation so far and there's not much point in looking at the numbers of relievers, since it's such a small sample size. But the offense has been a point of discussion over the first part of the season and hasn't seen the same success so far.

Below are statistics for the Cubs offense after 10 games. In parentheses are MLB ranks.

--40 runs (18)
--5 HR (27)
--.236 AVG (22)
--.301 OBP (22)
--.342 SLG (25)
--.643 OPS (24)
--8 SB (6)
--83 K (28)

As you can see, this team does not have much power and strikes out far too often. The .236 average is abysmal and is greatly affected by five players hitting below .200.

Jeff Baker, Geovany Soto, Blake DeWitt, Joe Mather and Marlon Byrd are a combined 10-for-93, good for a .108 batting average. Of course, Mather and DeWitt have just 10 at-bats each and Baker has 13, so it is far too early to get on their case about anything. Byrd's struggles are well-documented, but Soto's have not been discussed much.

The Cubs catcher is just 4-for-29 at the plate, but does have a double, triple and homer. He has hit a couple of balls hard, just right at people.

Steve Clevenger has been a pleasant surprise, going 6-for-10 to start the year after beating out Welington Castillo for the backup catcher spot. Clevenger is also 2-0 in starts this season, while Soto is just 1-7.

Starlin Castro is one of the few bright spots on the offense, hitting .359 with three doubles and a league-leading six steals in six tries. He has been awfully aggressive on the basepaths so far and may very well steal 30-40 bags this year.

Newcomer David DeJesus boasts a stellar 6:7 walk-to-strikeout ratio and leads the team with eight runs. He has a .300.432.367 line and has been great at the top of the order.

Sluggers Bryan LaHair and Alfonso Soriano are also off to hot starts. LaHair has a 1.119 OPS and is the only Cub with more than one homer. Soriano doesn't have an extra-base hit yet, but his .313 AVG and .343 OBP are welcome signs, as is his 7 RBI out of the cleanup spot.

This Cubs team won't out-slug anybody and will rely on timely hitting to pick up victories. If they can average 4.0 runs per game the rest of the way, that will be a win.

Though, I'm sure new manager Dale Sveum and front office executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would also like to see hitters increase their plate discipline and cut down on their strikeouts as the season wears on.

Fast Break Morning Update: Bulls trade Gibson, McDermott; Blackhawks beat Coyotes

Fast Break Morning Update: Bulls trade Gibson, McDermott; Blackhawks beat Coyotes

CSN to carry live coverage of Class 1A-4A IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships

CSN Chicago expands regional broadcast plans for Fire

Patrick Kane nets hat trick as Blackhawks cruise past Coyotes

NBA Trade Deadline: Bulls deal Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott to Thunder

White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle's number in June

Why Joe Maddon sees Kyle Schwarber as the leadoff guy in Cubs lineup

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Nick Schmaltz shines on 21st birthday

NBA Buzz: In wake of trade deadline, Bulls again caught in the middle

Braves Way: How Cubs are still focused on next wave of young talent

What the Bulls are getting in point guard Cameron Payne

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Nick Schmaltz shines on 21st birthday

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Nick Schmaltz shines on 21st birthday

The Blackhawks were finally getting healthy and now may be missing a key player once again. That depends on how Niklas Hjalmarsson feels after suffering an upper-body injury against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.

It was certainly the toughest part of the Blackhawks' victory, a 6-3 triumph that has the Blackhawks closing in on the Wild. We'll see what the Hjalmarsson update is over the weekend. Until then, let's look at the notables from this one.

What Worked: The offense. We'll give an honorable mention to the penalty kill, which snuffed out all of the Coyotes' chances including a double minor that overlapped the second and third periods. But the offense was just buzzing again. Here's another shocker: the top line is still working just fine. The trio got things started with Nick Schmaltz's goal just 37 seconds into the game (Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik assisted). And much like in their meeting with the Coyotes earlier this month, the Blackhawks needed just about every bit of that offense. While we're on this topic...

What Didn't Work: The first-period defense. The Blackhawks looked like they were in good shape up 3-1 but then they gave up two goals within a minute late in the period. Michal Rozsival had a rough start in his first game since Jan. 15, but overall, the Blackhawks' defense through that first period looked discombobulated. Obviously, it didn't help that the Blackhawks lost Hjalmarsson during the first, either.

[RELATED: Patrick Kane nets hat trick as Blackhawks cruise past Coyotes]

Star of the game: Patrick Kane. One game after Jonathan Toews recorded a hat trick Kane did the same, scoring his 21st, 22nd and 23rd goals of the season. On a night in which the Blackhawks dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, Kane got a little extra playing time. His first goal came on a first-period shift with Ryan Hartman and Tanner Kero, the second off a long pass from Brent Seabrook and the third with his usual line mates.

He Said It: "I didn't play much before I got hurt, then I missed four weeks with my injury. It wasn't easy but definitely the way the team's playing now, it made it easier for me. It felt like the first game of the season for me but glad we got the victory and glad I was back playing. I enjoyed it." — Michal Rozsival on returning to the Blackhawks' lineup. 

By the Numbers: 

6 – Number of times, in their last eight games, the Blackhawks have scored five or more goals.

342 – Assists for Jonathan Toews, who tied Dennis Hull for 12th all-time in franchise history in that category.

35 – Combined points for the Blackhawks' top liners Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik in their nine games together. The breakdown in those nine games: Toews has 16 points, Panik 10 and Schmaltz nine.

1997 – The last time the Blackhawks had hat tricks in back-to-back regular-season games. Alexei Zhamnov and Eric Daze had them on April 11 and April 13, 1997, respectively.