Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez injury proves how valuable team’s depth is

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Cubs’ outfield might be its strongest group

The emergence of Ian Happ this spring has easily been the biggest storyline surrounding this team. He’s absolutely mashed out of the leadoff spot (1.568 OPS), forcing his way into a discussion about a much larger role in 2018.

When the spring opened, Albert Almora seemed like the guy in center field. Now, with Jason Heyward struggling again with the bat (.143 AVG) and Happ playing well, platoon matchups seem likelier than ever before for Joe Maddon.

What makes this Cubs’ core so different is their multi-positional abilities. Happ can play second and all three outfield positions. Ben Zobrist can play pretty much anywhere you want to pencil his name in on a lineup card. Even the face of the franchise, Kris Bryant, can handle both corner infield and outfield positions if needed.

As we saw two years ago with the injury to Schwarber, this group’s versatility can be a make-or-break. The club didn’t miss a beat and went on to win 103 games and, of course, a World Series title.

The key in all this? Ian Happ’s continued development. If he can prove he’s an everyday player in his first full Major League season, an already deep outfield corps grows exponentially this year.