Thursday, February 22, 2024

Ben Zobrist Gives An Exact Reason For The Cubs Early Season Struggles

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Ben Zobrist is no stranger to celebrating World Series championships. In his 12-year career, Zobrist has reached the World Series three different times and has left twice a winner (2015-Kansas City, 2016-Chicago). His versatility and clutch-hitting led him to be one of the most important players on both team’s post season rosters and Cubs fans saw just how important of a role he played last season. It was his clutch hit in the 2016 World Series that propelled the Cubs to their first championship in over a century and also resulted in him being named the World Series MVP.



Zobrist went on the Waddle And Silvy yesterday and shared his thoughts on a variety of issues including: his new cereal, Kyle Schwarber, the leadoff spot, and more importantly — the Cubs early season struggles.

Zobrist gave a very interesting answer when he was asked why he thought the Cubs have stumbled out of the gate to start 2017.

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“Fatigue. I think we’re all a little bit fatigued still from the off-season.”

Zobrist essentially verified the dreaded “World Series hangover” excuse that most defending champions use to explain their early season struggles the year after they win it all. To be quite honest with you, I always thought this was a bullshit excuse until I started to look a little deeper into it.

Through their first 44 games following a World Series victory, here are the past five defending champions records:

2017 Chicago Cubs – 23-21

2016 Kansas City Royals – 23-21

2015 San Francisco Giants – 25-19

2014 Boston Red Sox – 20-24

2013 San Francisco Giants – 24-20

2012 St. Louis Cardinals – 25-19

As you can see, none of the previous champions have exactly had a blistering start to their encore season.

Zobrist continued,

“We hope this is the worst we are going to perform all year. The way everybody expects to perform, we can really only go up from here….We have to keep grinding to get ourselves to a point where can get our heads above water a bit.”

I don’t know if it’s the optimistic Cubs fan in me but I feel like this year’s team is at that point where their heads will be fully above water very soon. The first quarter of the season was ugly no doubt, but the fact the team is above .500 and still in the hunt for the division title has to been recognized. Also factor in how terrible the starting pitching has been, a mediocre defense, and the fact that the big bats of both Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo have struggled — Cubs fans should be happy this team isn’t sitting eight or ten games below .500.

We saw a flash last night of the team that Cubs fans thought would open up the 2017 season which gave every fan (myself included) a glimmer of hope that a change is about to come. The Cubs offense lit up Johnny Cueto and played outstanding defense behind the best start of any Cubs pitcher in 2017. Jon Lester threw a complete game for just the ninth time in the National League this season and needed only 99 pitches to earn the W to help the Cubs defeat the Giants 4-1.

I feel like I encapsulated most Cubs fans feelings after watching the “new” Cubs begin to turn the tide in 2017.

You can hear the entire Zobrist interview below.

 

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