Chicago Cubs: Predicting which Cubs will be All-Stars in 2018
By Janey Murray
Closer Wade Davis was the only All-Star for the Cubs in 2017. But odds are, more players will make the Midsummer Classic in 2018.
In 2016, the Chicago Cubs filled the infield at the All-Star Game at Petco Park in San Diego. Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant all started the game in the infield, while Dexter Fowler started in center field, and starting pitchers Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester made the roster as well.
However, in 2017, the team’s representation was much smaller. Only closer Wade Davis made the roster from the Cubs. While Bryant made the All-Star Final Vote, Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers won out over him, and thus all the Cubs position players were left at home.
With such a talented roster, though, it seems unlikely that that pattern will continue. Several Cubs are primed to make the All-Star Game in 2018 if all goes as planned.
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Hendricks has had an excellent two years as a young starter for the Cubs. He led the major leagues in ERA in 2016 and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting.
Despite some time out with injuries in 2017, he still posted a 3.03 ERA in 139 2/3 innings pitched. Hendricks has proven time after time that he can pitch well in key moments, and he has a chance to be the ace of the Cubs staff in the very near future.
Bryant experienced a slight decrease in success in the first half of 2017, relatively, which is the main reason that he missed the All-Star Game in 2017. However, an impressive second half led to a very underrated 2017 season for the Cubs third baseman.
He finished the season with a .295 batting average, .409 on-base percentage and .537 slugging percentage. He also finished with 6.1 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference. Bryant can likely be counted on to make the All-Star Game for many years to come.
Rizzo ranks among the best defensive first basemen in Major League Baseball. His 2017 season was arguably as good as, if not better than, his 2015 and 2016 seasons, as he posted a slash line of .273/.392/.507. He also contributed 109 runs batted in, tying his career-high from 2016.
Like Bryant, barring a slow start in the first half à la in 2017, Rizzo is likely to make the All-Star Game more often than not for the remainder of his career.
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Contreras had a monster second half offensively for the Cubs in 2017. In the second half, he managed a slash line of .305/.407/.586 compared to his first half stats of .261/.329/.454. The only thing that could slow him down offensively was a hamstring injury in August of 2017 that put him out for several weeks.
Not only did he improve offensively, but he proved to be one of the elite defensive catchers in the game. He will be the primary catcher for the Cubs in 2018 working alongside either Victor Caratini or Chris Gimenez. Contreras is due for his first all-star appearance in 2018.
Baez spent time at both second base and shortstop in 2017. While filling in for Addison Russell at shortstop, Baez proved his ability to play both positions at an elite level. He also had a strong offensive season in 2017, hitting a career-high 23 home runs and a career-high slugging percentage of .480.
Baez seems to have figured things out offensively, despite some struggles in the postseason. With increased maturity in 2018, Baez can only improve this season and secure his first all-star selection.
Next: What's in store for Victor Caratini's 2018 season?
Last year’s lack of Cubs in the All-Star Game was unusual for a team with so much talent. You can count on more players making appearances in the midsummer classic, as many Cubs are due for strong offensive seasons.