Can the young guns and the newly acquired veterans find that magic offensive rhythm?
The offense has got to produce. A lot of games last year could have gone in the win column if it had not been for some spotty offensive runs. For the most part, the Cubs were solid, and the new lineup is even better than the old. Once the order is set, it will be important for the young players and newly acquired veterans to find a rhythm, and make it work. If they live up to their potential, these guys are going to strike fear in the heart of opposing pitchers.
Injuries should not be quite the fear in the offensive lineup as they would be in the starting rotation, because everyone in the lineup can hit, and most of them hit with power. In fact, if Jorge Soler steps up and reaches his potential, there are no less than five guys with the ability to crack 20 home runs, and several expected to be at or over thirty. For this group, meshing as a team, keeping men on base and in scoring position for the power hitters, and consistency are what is needed to get back to the playoffs. No one can discount the Cardinals or the Pirates in the NL Central, and both teams have made their own changes to strengthen their lineups going into 2016.
Avoiding the proverbial sophomore slump might be a bit easier for Schwarber, Bryant, Soler and Russell than it has been for players on other teams, or in other years, because the rest of the order is so strong, and provides some protection. They could move the back of the order to the front and still succeed.
Offensively, the Cubs just need to show up, stay healthy, and perform as advertised.