Let's go live to video of opposing pitchers trying to get Cubs hitters out in the second half:
Pitchers trying to get the Cubs out in the 2nd half of the season... pic.twitter.com/6AFBSSfKYD— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 19, 2017
Following Wednesday's 8-2 thrashing of the Atlanta Braves, the Cubs' offensive numbers through their six-game winning streak are eye-popping:
AVG w/RISP: .339
Run differential: +27
The average with runners in scoring position is the big one as the Cubs have collected 21 hits in 62 at-bats in such situations in the second half.
That was the biggest weakness for the Cubs offense as they spent part of the first half ranking dead last in baseball hitting with runners in scoring position.
For the first five games of the second half, it's been Willson Contreras keying the offensive charge. But with "Willy" on the bench Wednesday and Kris Bryant forced to leave in the first inning with an injured finger, it was Javy Baez, Addison Russell and Mike Montgomery — yes, really — driving the offense.
The trio combined for seven hits, six RBI, three runs, three doubles and two homers.
Montgomery's first career homer was an absolute blast:
Have a day Mike Montgomery pic.twitter.com/m76UWhTCea— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 19, 2017
When Mike Montgomery crushes one off the upper deck... pic.twitter.com/upekn9SV51— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 19, 2017
That shot was 99.9 mph exit velocity and flew 393 feet. It also ensured the Cubs have truly won the trade with the Seattle Mariners from 364 days ago:
Mike Montgomery has more homers in the majors than Dan Vogelbach now.— Nick Beeps (@Nick_BPSS) July 19, 2017
Baez has been a monster of late, too, with four straight multi-hit efforts to raise his season average 23 points to .275 with a .797 OPS. He has 10 hits in his last 15 at-bats, including a pair of doubles and two homers.
Baez's three-run blast in the eighth really put it out of reach for the Cubs Wednesday:
Bye-Baez pic.twitter.com/X5na0CF4Pr— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 19, 2017
In the second half alone, Contreras, Russell and Baez have combined to raise their collective OPS 141 points:
1st half OPS/current OPS:— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 19, 2017
Javy - .745/.797
Russell - .678/.727
Contreras - .782/.822
This is more like it.
The Cubs went into this season thinking they had a strong, young offensive nucleus — a group of guys that would hammer the opposition on a nightly basis with an American League-style lineup.
It hasn't played out that way, but maybe things are starting to shift. Contreras, Russell and Baez are huge keys for the rest of the season. We know Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are gonna hit, Kyle Schwarber (.887 OPS in July) also seems to be a different guy at the plate since making his return from Triple-A Iowa.
Now if only Ben Zobrist can truly get going atop the order...