Chicago Cubs: Majority of lineup fills Bleacher Report Top 100

Feb 15, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (left) and first baseman Anthony Rizzo during a Spring Training workout at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 15, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (left) and first baseman Anthony Rizzo during a Spring Training workout at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Bleacher Report recently released its Top 100 players at the start of Spring Training. Needless to say, the Chicago Cubs were very prominent up and down the list, including one name in the Top 3.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but the Chicago Cubs have a lot of talent. I mean, tons of it. As Bleacher Report released its Top 100 prior to the start of Spring Training, you don’t have to go very far down the list to run into a Cubs player. In the Top 100, the Cubs have eight players. They also had an honorable mention and a “just missed”. So let’s take a look at where some of the Cubs ended up on B/R’s list.

The system and the full rankings can be found here. But the basics are no prospects, track record counts, high upside counts, as well as downside. So knowing that, let’s see where our favorite Cubs landed in the rankings.

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They saw Willson Contreras as an honorable mention, while Kyle Schwarber was a “just missed” on the list. For Schwarber, his comeback for the World Series was that of legend. While he was relegated to hitting, he showed that an entire season away couldn’t slow him down. The upside is definitely there for Schwarber, but his health and ability to replicate the numbers for a full season will be the key.

The infield makes its mark

The middle infield of the Cubs was well represented. It should say a lot when the World Series MVP Ben Zobrist is ranked No. 74. Javier Baez came in behind Zobrist at No. 91–but he should move up this list quickly with regular playing time. The climb for Baez was a little slower and more painful than some prospects, but it’s also made him a better player because of it. His defense could–and may–win him a Golden Glove this year, and his offense continues to get better.

Addison Russell is at No. 50, and next to a certain Cubs third baseman there might not be a player with more upside. Russell has proven to be a wizard in the middle of the infield while coming up with clutch home runs throughout the season. As he continues to get better, his ceiling could see him move into the Top 15 very soon.

The Cubs pitching staff dots the middle of the list with Kyle Hendricks at No. 48, Jake Arrieta at No. 47, and Jon Lester at No. 33. One of the more surprising things of this list was Hendricks proximity to the former Cy Young Winner in Arrieta. I would have placed Hendricks a bit lower on the list but that would have been strictly on his track record. He had been good, but never this good. But it’s clear the Cubs and Hendricks won’t be sneaking up on too many teams when he pitches.

Rizzo gets the shaft?

At No. 21 is Anthony Rizzo, and I feel he’s too low on this list. My biggest complaint is that he’s behind the Braves Freddie Freeman. Freeman did finish the season en Fuego, but he had a terrible few months to start the year. They said:

"“Other first basemen have more upside than Rizzo, but even they must be jealous of his consistency.”"

I don’t buy that for one second. Rizzo is behind Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto, two great hitters in the game. But they are both on the downside of their careers. I think B/R needs to take a closer look at Rizzo this season and reassess this ranking.

At No. 3 on the Top 100 entering Spring Training behind only Clayton Kershaw and the No. 1 spot, Mike Trout, was none other than Kris Bryant. I guess as a Cubs fan I have some qualms about many of these rankings. And for Bryant, I believe there’s only one player better in the game and that’s Trout. Kershaw has been one of the best pitchers in the game, but he hit a road bump last season. Yes, while he pitched he was damn near untouchable. But you have to do more than a few months.

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In Bryant’s first two seasons he’s got a Rookie of the Year and MVP crown, as well as leading the Cubs to the World Series. Statistically, he’s got a little ways to go to make up the gap between him and Trout. But it’s not so big a gap that it can’t be done.