Two major differences we have seen so far this season.
First, hitters are much more patient at the plate. Maddon says that the players have "bought in" on the concept that they should "accept" walks as being a positive at-bat. He allows them to work the count to have a home run cut, but then try to coax a hit or a walk to finish the at-bat. The Cubs were taking almost double the amount of walks than the league average/opponents.
The idea of having a baserunner is key to putting pressure on the opposing pitcher and his defense. It seems to work because Pirate third baseman Josh Harrison has had a bad two series against the Cubs.
Second, the Cubs are stealing bases. In the last three years, the Cubs' stolen-base totals were 94 (2012), 63 (2013) and 65 (2014), and the 2012 total was that "high" (they ranked 11th in the National League) only because of Tony Campana stealing 30 bases.
The Cubs stole five bases Tuesday night, four of those in one inning.
Anthony Rizzo has already matched his career high with his sixth steal. He hasn't been caught yet. In fact, the Cubs are picking their spots extremely well for stealing bases, with a team total of 25 with just six caught stealing (80.6 percent success rate). The 25 steals leads the National League.
This leads to the production increases - - - teammates are picking up for each other. It is like an assembly line moving players around the bases. The focus of attention is not home run swings but driving in runs. Kris Bryant has yet to hit a home run, but he quickly amassed 10 RBIs.
So far, this Cubs team has been fun to watch.