With the first month of the 2015 regular season coming to a close in a couple of days, it’s been so far so good for the Chicago Cubs who own a win-loss record of 12 – 7, sitting in second place in the National League Central, one game back of St. Louis.
The Cubs already have what many projected to be an outstanding one-two punch in the middle of their lineup with outfielder Jorge Soler and first baseman Anthony Rizzo batting back to back – now add the recently promoted Kris Bryant to that equation and it has the potential to be the best middle of the order in the Majors.
Soler has been considered by many scouts as the most polished of all the highly-touted prospects coming out of the Cubs’ farm system. He possess a plus arm in right field and has above average speed, combine that with his lightning quick bat speed it makes him a legitimate five-tool player. The big righty is hitting mostly out of the two-hole and has picked up right where he left off last season, when he batted .292 with a .903 OPS in 97 plate appearances – Soler is slashing a modest .270/.329/.432 on the young season with two home runs, nine RBI, and 11 runs scored. As the weather heats up expect the Cuban sensation to do so as well.
Anthony Rizzo has always teased with flashes of brilliance in the past, the former sixth round pick broke out in a big way last season when he launched 32 dingers and was selected to his first All-Star game. Operating as the main cog in the Cubs’ lineup Rizzo has seemingly carried his success over to 2015, hitting .344 with a 1.002 OPS, and an absurd .494 on-base percentage that leads all of Major League Baseball, his 15 runs scored are also good for fourth in the National League. Rizzo is only scratching the surface of his immense upside and is emerging as a superstar, the cancer survivor should be in the conversation for NL MVP all year long.
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After clubbing 43 long balls across two minor league levels in 2014, Kris Bryant has yet to homer since being called up April 17th but has managed either a run or RBI in eight of his first 10 games played with the Cubs. Bryant has batted out of the cleanup spot in every game he’s played in so far, displaying a mature approach as indicated by his eight walks and has totaled 17 bases already. Though the home runs haven’t come yet, the approach is there and it shouldn’t be long before Baseball America’s number one prospect in the game is making it rain.
The Cubs have had 137 different lineups over the past five seasons. Soler is 23 years old, Rizzo is 25, Bryant 23, and through 18 games this season (10 of which Bryant has been a part of ) they have combined for 31 runs, four homers, 54 hits, 27 RBI, and 27 base on balls. They might not be the best middle of the order YET, but as Soler, Rizzo, and Bryant continue to grow together and evolve, this part of the Cubs lineup might be permanently penciled in for the next 10 years.
*Editor’s Note: This was Carlos Polanco’s final post with us as he’s moving on, so we’d like to take a second to thank him for his contributions in his time at Cubbies Crib.