By Larry Fine
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The youthful Cubs showed their batting prowess in the regular season as Chicago led the majors in wins, yet the postseason has produced peaks and valleys at the plate.
Chicago manager Joe Maddon said on Saturday it is all part of baseball's development process and that the Cubs figure only to get better and better on offense.
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"I think a lot of it has to do with youth," Maddon told reporters before Game Four against the Cleveland Indians.
"As we continue to move forward together, the one area of our club that I anticipate's going to get better is offense."
Maddon based his analysis on how baseball professionals project young players.
"If you put your scout's cap on right now, normally you look at our group or any group, you're going to see running speed should hopefully remain the same, possibly regress a little bit.
"Defense should remain the same, possibly get a little bit better. Arm strength the same thing, you want to at least maintain what you have," the skipper said.
"But if you had to write numbers down on a piece of paper, the one you're going to project a lot on would be offense, whether it's hitting or hitting with power."
Good young players tend to grow as hitters, becoming more patient at the plate, more comfortable with the chess match played between batters and hurlers that develops from pitch to pitch.
The Cubs were shut out twice in their National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the Los Angeles Dodgers to fall behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven before roaring back with three straight wins to reach their first World Series in 71 years.
After three games of the Fall Classic, the Cubs are right back in the same spot, again having lost a pair of games without scoring a run.
Maddon is confident of his young talent that includes four players aged 24 and younger in Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras and Addison Russell and says they are likely to get even better.
"Understanding themselves better, understanding what the pitcher's going to try to do against them. Understanding how to make adjustments in the game," explained Maddon.
"Understanding how to utilize the entire field more consistently as they gain experience."
"So what's really exciting to me is that we're in this position right now, two years in a row," said Maddon, who took his Cubbies to the NLCS in his first season on the job in 2015.
(Editing by Andrew Both)