It’s no secret that this new look Chicago Cubs squad received a little bit of a boost when it came to its World Series odds, but can anyone blame them?
With the hiring of Joe Maddon, Dave Martinez and the signing of Jon Lester, this team is looking to make everyone forget about their fifth place finish in 2014. The talk of reaching the post-season in the years to come has greatly increased by not only the ones inside the organization, but from others involved in the league such as players like Bryce Harper.
One piece to this rebuilding puzzle that began years ago is first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo, 25, is expected to be a favorite to win the N.L. MVP entering the 2015 campaign. He’s coming off a solid year despite missing some time to an injury as he managed to slug a career best 32 home runs with 78 RBIs, 28 doubles, one triple, and 150 hits on top of a .286/.386/.527 clip.
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At one point during the season, Rizzo lead the National League in home runs but was later eclipsed by Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. With the team bringing in top southpaw pitcher Jon Lester and entering a fresh season with guys such as Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks, Rizzo is confident that this club could win the N.L. Central.
"“I mean it’s going to happen this year; it’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to win the NL Central.” Rizzo via Chicago Suntimes"
Chicago’s power-hitting lefty believes that the Cubs have all the talent they need in order to ‘do some things this year’ and that’s what the team is expecting to do with their eyes set on the division title.
"“That’s what we’re expecting; that’s what we’re going to put our sights on. And we’re not going to settle for anything less.”"
Now as far as those World Series odds are concerned, Rizzo also commented on the huge jump his team took in Vegas after landing both Maddon and Lester. Before making their huge off-season splash during the Winter, Chicago’s odds stood at 50-1 but eventually dropped to 12-1 as time went on – something Rizzo greatly approves of.
This team hasn’t made the post-season since the 2008 season where the won the N.L. Central with a record of 97-64. They would end up being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the division series, 3-0 just like the previous year to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In fact, the only series this team has won since their 1908 World Series reign over the Detroit Tigers for the second year in a row, was against the Atlanta Braves in 2003.
Led by Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Matt Clement as their anchors in the rotation, the North Siders punched their ticket to the N.L. Championship series against the Florida Marlins after defeating the Braves 3-2 in the series.
After finishing in fifth places for the fifth year in a row, the Cubs will look to surpass 83 wins for the first time since the 2009 season where they finished in second. Since then, the Cubs have lost 87, 91, 101, 96, and 89 games.