Feel free to make of this whatever you like.
This wasn’t the way we wanted the season to end and every year we miss the playoffs is a difficult one. However, this season, where we dug ourselves an early hole and then played as well as anyone in the league only to fall just short of our goal, was particularly disappointing. That said, we took a major step forward in 2023 and look to build on it for next season.
Let me start by acknowledging and thanking you and all Cubs fans for the unwavering support you brought to the ballpark this season. Your energy helped fuel the team’s performance and created an incredible atmosphere at Wrigley Field.
Baseball was exciting as the team showed historic resilience. This was the first team in franchise history to reach 10 games over .500 after finding itself 10 games under .500 earlier in the season. This accomplishment was led by a combination of homegrown talent and veteran players who delivered All-Star caliber performances and fought to the very end.
What also happened for the team this year was the emergence of a new core and a new identity.
Justin Steele rose as a contender for the N.L. Cy Young Award, anchoring the pitching staff and finishing with 16 wins and a 3.06 ERA, the third-best ERA in the N.L. Seiya Suzuki was second in the N.L. with a .349 average in the season’s final two months. Ian Happ posted career marks in RBI (84), runs scored (86) and walks (99). Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner proved to be the elite up-the-middle defenders we envisioned entering the year. Swanson’s 18 defensive runs saved led all shortstops, while Hoerner’s .283 average was second and his 175 hits were third among all second basemen, not to mention his career-high 43 stolen bases. The addition of Cody Bellinger brought power and clutch hitting to the lineup as he finished in the N.L. top-10 in average (.307), slugging (.525) and OPS (.881) while providing outstanding defense in center field and at first base.
Our goal is to win championships.
While we are encouraged by many of the individual performances this year, almost making the playoffs is not success. As an organization, we need to build on our progress and become a team that can finish the race. To do that, we will continue to be active this offseason to supplement our roster and look for contributions from our pipeline of elite homegrown talent.
Over the long term, the key to winning championships is consistently competing for a place in the postseason. While baseball playoffs are not random events, they do allow all teams a reasonable chance of winning. To have a team that can play October baseball on a regular basis, it is critical we draft and develop a pipeline of young, talented players.
Our future is bright.
Recent investments in our player development organization are beginning to pay off and our farm system is ranked among the top five in MLB. While the teams in the system were generally successful, including Double-A Tennessee’s Southern League championship, what is important is we are producing players who will help us win at the major league level.
After several years where we failed to produce impactful pitching, this season’s young arms made significant contributions to the team in both starting and relief roles. While we anticipate further success from our current players, we also see a strong pipeline of pitching prospects on the horizon.
With respect to position players, Pete Crow-Armstrong was named the Minor League Defensive Player of the Year by MLB, and the Cubs now have six players in MLB.com’s top-100 prospect list.
We respect our past.
Without question, we have much to look forward to in the future. But as stewards of this organization, we also have a great responsibility to this iconic team. It’s why fans from across the world come to Wrigley Field to experience Cubs baseball. And why we will never lose sight of the history, heritage and tradition that make our beloved ballpark such a magical place.
This season, we were honored to welcome Cubs greats Shawon Dunston and Mark Grace as the newest members of the Cubs Hall of Fame. We were happy to announce Ryne Sandberg would be joining Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams on Statue Row. I remember watching Dunston, Grace and Sandberg from the bleachers, and celebrating their accomplishments brought back special memories that I know so many of you cherish as well.
Of course, no recap of the 2023 season would be complete without acknowledging our great broadcaster and the longtime radio voice of the Chicago Cubs, Pat Hughes. As one of the best to ever enter the booth, Pat was the winner of the prestigious Ford C. Frick Award. Now, Pat will forever have his place alongside the other Cubs greats at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
While the pain from our season finish still lingers, we know it’s time to move forward, and we can say with confidence that the future of the Cubs looks bright. Our experience this season will strengthen the organization, and we are positive we’ll arrive at Spring Training with an edge and the desire to finish the race in 2024.
Thank you to each and every Cubs fan for your continued support.