NBC Sports Chicago’s Kelly Crull sat down with Willson Contreras and boy was the Cubs catcher brutally honest about why he was bad in 2018. Nope, there was no pointing the finger at Chili Davis, saying there was a mystery injury or blaming any of his woes on physical fatigue brought on from catching the most innings in baseball by a pretty good margin. Nope, Contreras faced some harsh truths about himself and told Crull all about it.
Contreras entered 2018 coming off a 21-homer season, in which he posted a .855 OPS. He carried the Cubs offense for an extended period of time in 2017, and then he made his first All-Star Game, voted in as a starter for the National League in 2018. At the unofficial end of the first half, Contreras slashed .279/.369/.449, with nine home runs and a .818 OPS.
He was on top of the world. Contreras already had a World Series ring, being a part of 2016 championship team as a rookie. Now, at the All-Star Game in Washington, all his hard work, dedication and passion for baseball was being recognized. Then, it all came tumbling down.
It wasn’t just Contreras, as the Cubs offense as a whole fizzled out in 2018, but his performance might have been the most glaring. Contreras had a .585 OPS in the last 2.5 months of 2018, hitting only 11 extra base hits, (8 doubles, 3 home runs).
So, what happened?
“I used to get to the ballpark, like I did in 2017, and I’d usually get on the elliptical or bike or stretch or lift,” Contreras said. “To be honest, I didn’t lift at all [as 2018 went on]. I came out of my routine completely. I didn’t deserve to have a good year last year. That’s what I told myself. I’ve learned from it, I took it as inspiration and now I’m here.”
“Everything is easy when you’re going well, when you’re not thinking too much and hitting homers and doubles with guys in scoring position,” he said. “I was too comfortable last year, to be honest. It kills me — I was like way too comfortable. I talked to my family and my wife about this.”
Contreras is once again primed to catch most of the innings from the pitching staff in 2019, and like several veterans have said since the end of the 2018 season, sometimes you have to get knocked to realize that this game isn’t easy. And it’s not, it’s very difficult and because it is the hard work can’t stop.
“This game taught me that you have to keep working hard like you did the last year and don’t get too comfortable because you’re gonna fail and fail and fail. We learn and we move on.”
Here’s the interview.
As a fan you have to respect Contreras confronting his own faults and moving forward to get even better instead of placing the blame on other people.