Chicago Cubs have been fortunate developing, sustaining talent
While the Chicago Cubs have assembled a team of young stars, not everyone is that lucky. Success in the majors can be fleeting, and the Cubs have proven to have the secret to success.
After the Chicago Cubs took Game 1 from the Washington Nationals, I stayed up to watch the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. I haven’t been highly focused on the rosters when I learned that Joc Pederson was left off the NLDS roster. I know he hasn’t been playing as well, but this was the guy that just a few year’s ago was LEADING the way for the NL Rookie of the Year–ahead of Kris Bryant.
Another one is Jackie Bradley, Jr. He came up highly-touted, and after a few years of scuffling along, he seemed to have figured it out. Only he hadn’t. After solid 2016 that saw him hit .267 with 26 home runs and 87 RBI, he fell off this year. Not to the extent that Pederson had, but this was a guy that the Red Sox believed was a key cog to their future. It’s not turned out that way, and helps you to appreciate the success–and luck–the Cubs have had.
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5 for 5 in the 1st round
When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over, the cupboard was bare, minus Javier Baez. The Cubs went to work drafting talented hitters. This was against the grain of what most of the league was trying to do. Since 2011 when the Cubs took Baez, it’s been positional talent ever since. Even more impressive is the fact that all five of those players are on the NLDS roster.
Kris Bryant is, well, Kris Bryant. Baez had a stretch where he looked like he would fizzle out. But he’s always had the support of Joe Maddon and has turned his career back in the right direction. Even as the free swinger that he is, he still hit .273 this year. What if he actually starts to learn patience at the plate? Albert Almora has been more of a role player for the Cubs, but he’s been a good one. And there’s a solid chance he’ll get the chance to step things up next season.
Time will tell
When it comes to Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ, the jury is still out. Schwarber has been a polarizing figure this year. But since his demotion to Triple-A, he returned and hit .255 while slugging 18 home runs. Not eye-popping, but better than how he started the year. And as magnificent as his October legend has been, this was his first full year in with the Cubs. Heck, he didn’t even spend the entire year in Chicago, but you get the point.
And the most recent pick, Happ forced his way onto this team. He’s young and will swing and miss at A LOT of pitches. But he’s proven to be valuable, and Maddon knows when to pick his spots with him. But his 24 home runs and 68 RBI, as well as his slash line of .253/.328/.514 proves he can handle the big stage.
The Cubs used to be one of the teams that had big expectations out of their prospects that would always fall flat. Corey Patterson, Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson and others have all been in that position. And all of them failed. So what other teams are going through isn’t all that uncommon. But what the Cubs are currently doing is. They have established a continuity with these young players that haven’t been seen in some time. Occasionally there are missteps along the way, but the players seem to overcome them–not be beaten down by them.
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Maybe its the team leadership, or the development along the way. It could be the support that Maddon gives these guys along the way. Whatever it is, not many teams have it. And it could be the reason that the “dynasty” might not have been the wrong word to use when describing this group,