Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Reader Blog: Does Rudy Jaramillo deserve blame for the Cubs' offensive woes?

The Cubs are 22nd in the majors in runs, below offensive juggernauts such as the Royals, Nationals, and A's (who have household names like Adam Rosales, Cliff Pennington and Rajai Davis in their lineup). This got me to thinking: is Rudy Jaramillo, the highest-paid hitting coach in the majors, to blame?

Let's dig a bit deeper into the statistics. Through Thursday, the Cubs were 15th in the majors in OBP (.328). This has never been Jaramillo's strong suit--the Rangers were 12th in the AL in OBP last season, and finished outside the top five in four of the five seasons prior. Still, the Cubs are at least in the middle of the pack.

Home runs have always been a specialty of Jaramillo-coached teams, and the Cubs are 12th in the majors with 17. Eight of those came in their six home games, whereas they've hit just nine in 10 road games. The Cubs are just slightly below average--16th--in OPS (.731).

So while the Cubs are doing okay-but-not-great in the aforementioned statistics, they're doing significantly worse when it comes to getting runs across the plate. Hits and walks simply aren't being converted into runs. Jaramillo's Rangers teams scored 800 or more runs for 13 straight years, whereas the Cubs are on pace to score only 648 runs. The Cubs' lack of timely and clutch hitting are problems Jaramillo can't control.

Some don't buy into the concept of clutch hitting, or performing under pressure. But I think in baseball, more than in other sports, some players tend to be more clutch than others. After all, though baseball is a team sport, it pretty much always comes down to individual match-ups--one hitter versus one pitcher. And right now, it seems that several of the Cubs' players are pressing at the plate when they have an opportunity to do some real damage.

It's always difficult to measure the impact of a hitting or pitching coach. Under Gerald Perry, the Cubs led the NL in OBP in 2008, then struggled mightily in '09, leading to Perry's ouster. Additionally, the Cubs' run total would start to look a lot better if the 3 and 4 hitters--Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez--got locked in. But at least for the moment, it looks like Rudy Jaramillo has the Cubs being patient at the plate and getting their share of hits. Unfortunately, those same hitters are failing to produce with men on base, resulting in a poor showing in the only offensive statistic that truly matters--runs scored.

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