During this past season, when the Cubs lost 101 games, they ranked 15th in walks, dead last in on-base percentage (.302) and 14th in runs scored.
Here is what Theo had to say about that: “That’s another thing we really need to continue to improve. If there was one thing that I was surprised by in a negative way it was how pervasive the lack of plate discipline was in the whole organization, at the major-league level, upper minors, lower minors, draft decision making and protocol. It’s just something that has not been a factor for a long time, and we’re paying the price for that.
“It’s embedded. It’s institutionalized, so we have to be really, really vigilant in turning that around. I believe 90 percent of the game revolves around controlling the strike zone, when you combine what it means to do so from an offensive standpoint and also from a pitching standpoint. It’s something we weren’t really good at. We didn’t walk enough. We didn’t get on base enough. Our pitchers walked too many hitters. We didn’t manage counts as well as we need to. Because it’s embedded, we need to dig deep and build a really strong foundation in that area because we’re suffering from that.”
For the record, Cubs pitchers walked the most batters in the National League (573). When Epstein said the problems are “embedded” and “institutionalized,” those are pretty strong words and the closest Theo has come to indicting the Hendry regime for its approach to the importance of hitters getting on base.