The Cubs are hitting the ball out of the park at an eye-popping pace


Tuesday night's 9-6 loss in Houston was a microcosm of the Cubs' season to date — both in positive and negative ways.

On the down side, the Cubs pitching staff continues to scuffle, as it has for the last two weeks. There's not much more to be said on that front — the bullpen is struggling to maintain leads and the rotation has now been slumping badly, though this is a group of veteran starters that should turn things around pretty quickly. 

But on the positive front, this team is still hitting the absolute crap out of the ball.

The Cubs hit 5 homers Tuesday night (another impressive offensive output that still wasn't enough to pull out a victory) and now have 90 dingers on the season. That puts them second in the National League, 2 behind the Milwaukee Brewers. 

It also puts the Cubs on track for a whopping 275 homers on the season, which would be well over 100 more than they hit in all of 2018 (167 HR). Last year, the New York Yankees led baseball with 267 dingers.

The ball is flying out of every ballpark at a record pace in 2019, though nobody seems to know exactly why

But the Cubs hitters certainly aren't complaining.

Four players woke up Wednesday morning having already tied or eclipsed their 2018 homer total — Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Jason Heyward, David Bote. The next homers Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Victor Caratini hit will tie their 2018 totals, respectively.

And oh yeah, it's not even June yet.

Here is the home run pace for each Cubs hitter in 2019:

Anthony Rizzo - 46
Javy Baez - 40
Willson Contreras - 37
Kris Bryant - 37
Kyle Schwarber - 28
Jason Heyward - 24
Albert Almora Jr. - 21
David Bote - 18
Addison Russell - 12
Daniel Descalso - 6
Victor Caratini - 3

Those totals would represent new career highs for Rizzo, Baez, Contreras, Almora, Bote and Caratini and it would be very close to previous career bests for Bryant, Schwarber and Heyward.

With the way the offense faltered down the stretch last year, if somebody sat down a bunch of Cubs fans this winter and told them nine members of the lineup would either top or approach career highs in home runs in 2019, they'd probably be doing backflips in excitement. 

More than 2/3 of the season remains, so there's still plenty of time for things to go off the rails. But it seems pretty clear this Cubs team is going to score a lot of runs and hit a ton of balls into the seats as the weather warms up even more and hitting conditions continue to improve.

But this isn't just a Cubs thing.

Derek Dietrich — who was released by the Marlins this winter in an attempt to save money and couldn't get a better contract than a minor-league deal with the Reds over the winter — hit a trio of homers Tuesday night and now has 17 on the season, eclipsing his previous career high of 16 (set last year).

Tommy La Stella has 12 homers already this season in just 49 games after hitting only 10 longballs in the first 396 games of his career.

Home runs are being hit at an absurd rate all across the board. 

Which also helps explain why the Cubs pitching has been hot and cold this season. They only gave up two homers Tuesday — both to Alex Bregman — but the second one was the backbreaker. 

Cubs pitchers are on track to allow 183 homers in 2019, which is a pretty sizeable jump from the 157 longballs they surrendered a season ago.

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