Joe Maddon takes an unnecessary amount of flak for the way he allocates playing time and roster spots. But where are the folks who typically criticize the World Series champion manager when the Cubs outfielders are slamming pitches all over the park regardless of their configuration?
Going into Sunday’s contest against the Twins, all five Cubs outfielders Maddon uses had wOBAs of at least .340 and wRC+ marks of 112 or higher. Such numbers are remarkable, especially when considering that three of the five in question are 25 years old or younger.
Kyle Schwarber: .361 wOBA, 127 wRC+ (286 PA)
Ben Zobrist: .364 wOBA, 128 wRC+ (249 PA)
Albert Almora Jr.: .357 wOBA, 123 wRC+ (261 PA)
Jason Heyward: .340 wOBA, 112 wRC+ (261 PA)
Ian Happ: .346 wOBA, 116 wRC+ (241 PA)
Some will no doubt say that these hitters would’ve had success no matter how Maddon used them, but I don’t buy that line of thinking. Not only have they been put in position to succeed based on matchups, but all the Cubs outfielders are on pace for at least 500 plate appearances.
How Maddon has utilized his young outfielders (who, people forget, have World Series rings) has been nothing short of brilliant. He’s given each a chance to fail, adapt, and succeed, all while maintaining a winning atmosphere.