Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers poised for years of showdowns
By Jake Misener
Chicago Cubs-Los Angeles Dodgers evenly matched in the infield
As a Cubs fan, it’s hard to even fathom saying the Dodgers’ infield matches up with Chicago. But, depending on how you look at it – it does.
At third, Chicago boasts the reigning NL MVP in Kris Bryant. Despite what many may think, he put up another impressive campaign in 2017. He hit 29 home runs, scored 111 runs and put up a .946 OPS – which was actually better than in his MVP season. Across the diamond, Anthony Rizzo looms large.
Rizzo, who recently won the Roberto Clemente Award, tied career-bests with 32 home runs and 109 runs batted in this season. That marks three-straight 30-100 performances for the Cubs first baseman.
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Up the middle, Javier Baez and Addison Russell are a talented group. Russell struggled for much of 2017 – but there’s perhaps no better defensive middle-infield combo in the National League. Baez and his free-swinging tendencies frustrate at times but he is clearly one of the most exciting and defensively gifted players in baseball.
For Los Angeles, the aforementioned Bellinger put up historic numbers in his rookie season, smashing 39 home runs for the Dodgers. His corner infield counterpart, Justin Turner, continued his ascent at the hot corner, with a 149 OPS+ this year.
At shortstop, reigning Rookie of the Year Corey Seager represents one of the best young players in the game – regardless of position. He missed some time with injury, but will no-doubt be a fixture in the Dodgers infield for years to come.
The differentiator here, in my opinion, is second base. Logan Forsythe may or may not return – the team holds an $8 million option for the 2018 season. Given he hit .224 and rated as a roughly league-average defender, he’s not exactly an attractive choice.
Los Angeles’ other choice? Veteran Chase Utley. Once a great player – but he’s less of a regular starter than Ben Zobrist is at this point in his career. For this reason, we give the edge to the Cubs heading into the offseason.