Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: Predicting the standings in the National League Central

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Oct 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs players from left Addison Russell , Javier Baez and Kris Bryant celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians in game two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs players from left Addison Russell , Javier Baez and Kris Bryant celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians in game two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

First Place: Chicago Cubs

You may find this odd coming from a site dedicated to fans of the Chicago Cubs, but it is honest at this moment. The Cubs are the odds-on favorite to win the NL Central in 2017.

Last year was about pitching and defense. Best ERA. Lowest opponent’s batting average. Most runs saved. It all worked together. Add some timely hitting, and you get a 103-win season.

It will be near impossible to return to that level in 2017. The top four starters in the rotation are proven players, but they pitched above career averages in many cases. And, while adding Wade Davis and Koji Uehara improve the bullpen, closing the game may be an issue. Davis will be the closer day one, but has been inconsistent this Spring.

The offense will be key. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell showed why they are the best infield in baseball. Losing David Ross means Willson Contreras plays on a near-daily basis. Another youngster, Albert Almora Jr., is playing amazing ball this Spring and is looking to be the next standout player on the team.

But the biggest addition for the team this year comes from the disabled list. Kyle Schwarber. The potential for 40 homers, 100 RBI and 75 runs scored is within the magic wand he calls a bat. The Cubs should put up big numbers this year.

What the experts say:

Bleacher Report: 101-61, first place

ESPN: 98-64, first place

Fangraphs: 94-64, first place

SB Nation: first place

Sports Illustrated: first place

Sporting News: first place

USA Today: 99-63, first place

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