Heading into Saturday, the Cubs were dead last in the majors in ...
- Batting average at .166 with 29th place being .201
- On-base percentage at .267
- Slugging percentage at .307 with the next-lowest mark being .332
- Strikeout percentage
- wRC+ at a pathetic 62
We could probably go on, but there's no reason to belabor the point. The offense before Saturday was pitiful. Previous game highs for the team in 2021 were five runs, 11 hits, five extra-base hits and three home runs. Those were all blown away on Saturday. The Cubs scored the aforementioned 13 runs on 14 hits, including six home runs. This was the 26th time in franchise history the Cubs hit six homers in a game. The franchise record is seven, which happened three times and hasn't been done since 1977.
It wasn't just the homers. The Cubs pounded out nine extra-base hits. The big guns did their thing, too. Willson Contreras (we'll get to him again in a bit) homered twice. Anthony Rizzo was 3-for-4 with a triple. Kris Bryant homered twice in a three-hit game. Javier Baez clubbed a three-run shot that broke the game open.
Earlier this week, I wrote about how awful the Cubs offense has been pretty much throughout 2020-21 and that remains the case. We've seen the boom-or-bust proclivities of this offense for years and Saturday was finally the first 2021 example of the boom. By no means does this fundamentally change anything about the flaws on this team. It was just one game.
There is, however, still plenty of high-end talent on the team, notably the four names mentioned above. Contreras in particular was already hot and now has homered four times in his last three games.
On the season, Contreras is now hitting .282/.420/.667 with five homers. His home run on Friday was into the teeth of a very strong wind, too.
Then there were the two bombs to kickstart his team on Saturday:
The Cubs are 6-8 here in the early going and have what looks like a pretty tough schedule the next several weeks. If things continue on this path, it seems likely they'll be sellers at the trade deadline, with free agents to be Bryant, Baez, Rizzo and closer Craig Kimbrel likely targets to be moved.
Contreras, who is under team control through 2022, would probably be the most attractive piece of the bunch, especially if he keeps hitting like this. He's improved dramatically at framing behind the plate, has a cannon for an arm that makes him among the best in baseball at back picks and can hit better than almost any other backstop in the game, as evidenced by this three-game power barrage.