Just a few seasons ago the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in over 100 years and a dynasty was born. Well, the dynasty part hasn’t exactly happened, but many thought they were setup to win multiple World Series titles.
Of course, it’s not to say the Cubs haven’t been successful. They won 92 games in 2017 and lost in the National League Championship Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They also won 95 games in 2018, but lost in the Wild Card Game to the Colorado Rockies. Many teams would love to go to the postseason four straight seasons, but the Cubs just didn’t seem to have the magic they had in 2016 this time around.
Now as we enter 2019 a lot of people are counting Chicago out. The Milwaukee Brewers are the favorites to win the NL Central after a great year in 2018, and the St. Louis Cardinals are much-improved. It’s understandable, but I’m not quite ready to give up on the Cubs just yet.
This team just has way too much talent to give up on. Yes, they had their off-the-field problems with Addison Russell and dealt with Kris Bryant being injured last season, as well as players just not quite living up to the hype such as Kyle Schwarber. However, a lot of their core is just now entering their prime.
I expect Bryant to have a great season. He was very good from 2015-2017, but slipped off last year due to injury. It would not be surprising to see him once again be pushing 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. The Cubs also need a rebound season from Willson Contreras. He looked like one of the best hitting catchers in the game until last season. After hitting 21 home runs in 2017, his total fell to 10 in 2018. Contreras’ strikeouts also went up and his OBP fell.
Although some players had a down season in 2018, the Cubs still had players experience great seasons. I must start out with Javier Baez. He was the heart and soul of the Cubs’ lineup. Baez brings the excitement with his bat and glove and hit a career-high 34 home runs in 2018. He also hit 40 doubles, batted .290, and stole 21 bases. There was also Anthony Rizzo, who has been so consistent for years. You can pencil him in each season to hit over 20 home runs, drive in 100 runs, and have an OBP over .370. Ben Zobrist is another player who had a very good season. His numbers aren’t flashy, but he’s always solid and hit a career-high .305 in 2018.
An area of concern with the Cubs is their pitching. They have a lot of big names, but they are mostly in their 30’s. Kyle Hendricks is their youngest starter, and he is 29. Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels have both dealt with injures, and although Jon Lester hasn’t been hurt, he is 35. If their starters can stay healthy, the Cubs could have one of the best rotations in Major League Baseball.
I don’t see the Cubs winning their division in 2019, but I do see them once again winning over 90 games and locking up a Wild Card spot. I expect them to play with a lot more consistency this season and show off more of the 2016 team than the 2018 one. Once they get into the postseason, you never know what can happen.