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MLB’s postseason surprises a guide for Cubs

Two rounds of MLB playoffs have provided some important lessons, particularly for a team like the Cubs with ambitions of joining the party.

The Cubs finished two games short of a wild card spot — one if that extra win was against Arizona or Miami — so maybe these trends can help them navigate the winter:

Go for the slug

The National League playoffs have been all about home runs, with Arizona hitting 13 in five games and Philadelphia knocking 13 in six games. The Cubs had a decent offense in 2023, but lagged a bit in home runs, ranking 15th in MLB.

This argument does get confusing, though, because the Cubs hit 30 more home runs than the Diamondbacks in the regular season. Atlanta, meanwhile, set the National League record and tied the MLB record with 307 home runs this season, but came up dry in the playoffs.

Sorting out this issue, how to hit home runs when it counts, will be a challenge. Also, at one point wasn’t the prevailing wisdom all about manufacturing runs during lower-scoring postseason games?

Anyway, this information doesn’t really change much about the Cubs’ offseason plan. Of their three leading home run hitters, Cody Bellinger needs to re-sign, Christopher Morel needs a position to play and Patrick Wisdom probably won’t stick around long term.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

The Cubs need figure out something with those three and also increase their home run total. Committing to Ian Happ (21 HR) and Seiya Suzuki (20) at the corner outfield spots may not be the winning plan.

Sign free agents

Philadelphia’s lineup is mostly free-agent driven, with Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner all grabbing the cheesesteak since 2019. That’s two former Cubs (Castellanos and Schwarber) and an alleged wannabe Cub (Harper).

Schwarber has struggled in the playoffs so far, but the other three have been amazing. Don’t forget, Harper has been in Philly since 2019. Sometimes bold moves don’t provide instant results.

The same could be said for Texas giving Corey Seager a 10-year, $325 million deal in 2022. The first year, it looked like a bad deal. This season, he’s been an MVP candidate and may lead the Rangers to the World Series.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

At the same time, Houston has watched free agents like Gerrit Cole, Carlos Correa, George Springer walk away and kept winning. It sounds like Jed Hoyer is trying to follow a hybrid plan — build a strong farm system like the Astros, but sign a big free agent once in a while.

Signing Shohei Ohtani doesn’t seem realistic for the Cubs, but trading for a 2025 free agent like Juan Soto or Pete Alonso, followed by a big contract extension, could be.

Maybe skip the bye

Two years into MLB’s triple wild card playoff format, NL teams drawing a bye are 0-4 in the second round. Bye teams are 3-1 in the AL, so who really knows? The time off isn’t much different from the all-star break.

Don’t be thin-skinned

We learned some details about Atlanta Braves etiquette:

Celebrating a personal milestone in the 10th inning of a tie game? Perfectly fine, don’t even question it.

Reporting on a player repeatedly yelling about an opponent in an open clubhouse while interviews are being conducted? Violation of clubhouse sanctity.

The Braves had fun flapping their arms and celebrating stolen bases during the regular season, but might have gotten flustered by Phillies fans.

If they put the right team on the field, maybe the Cubs can get back to opponents making complaints about the fans sometime soon.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

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