The Chicago Cubs finished the first half of the season by sweeping the San Diego Padres. Now, multiple members of their first-place club will participate in All-Star festivities.
For now, Joe Maddon and the rest of our Chicago Cubs can sit back and relax until the weekend. On the other hand, it’s time for Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber to step to the plate for the 2018 Home Run Derby.
First, let’s reflect on the last time two members of this team participated in this event. In 2015, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and third baseman Kris Bryant made the trip to Cincinnati. That year, Bryant won N.L. Rookie of the Year honors.
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Together, they combined for 17 home runs but watched the remainder of the competition from their seats. Despite their early departures, it was neat to see Bryant’s father pitching to him. A former Boston Red Sox prospect.
To sum up their Home Run Derby appearance; it was pretty brutal to watch.
Bryant and Rizzo each had high expectations from those watching at home but they weren’t quite able to get the job done.
However, 2015 was a year in which the Cubs put the entire league on notice. In light of a Home Run Derby dud, the Chicago Cubs were a force to be reckoned with.
Turning the page
Honestly, if you were to tell me that Javier Baez was putting up MVP-like numbers before the second half of the season, I’d probably scratch my head. Nothing against Javier, just wouldn’t expect these numbers coming from a guy who was once a for sure strikeout to opposing pitchers.
Nonetheless, what Baez is doing right now is fantastic. Through 343 at-bats, Baez has 100 hits, 25 doubles, six triples, 19 homers, and 72 RBI while slashing .292/.326/.566/.892.
Right now, he has set a personal best with doubles and triples while inching closer to hits, homers, and RBI for 2018. The best part? We’ve got plenty of baseball to play and he’s more than capable for tossing his name into the hat for MVP honors at the end of the year.
He’ll enter the Derby as the No. 6 seed taking on No. 3 Max Muncy of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Prediction: Muncy 16 Baez 14
We have a Schwarber
Several baseballs that have left the bat of Kyle Schwarber are still waiting to land. Chicago’s 25-year-old slugger continues to mash opposing pitchers, hammering 18 long balls while driving in 48 through 265 at-bats.
Schwarber had himself a memorable campaign following a miracle World Series comeback in 2016. Last year, he swatted a career-high 30 home runs which were second best on the Cubs behind Anthony Rizzo.
Rizzo ended the year with 32 while Bryant finished with 29. Again, more baseball to play so he’s more than capable of eclipsing his 2017 total being only 12 behind the mark. Tonight, he enters as the No. 5 seed taking on Houston Astros slugger, Alex Bregman.
Bregman and the Astros are currently the defending World Series champions and followed a similar formula as the Cubs. These two colliding in the derby is practically a dream match for fans of both sides considering the history between both clubs.
Prediction: Schwarber 22 Bregman 19; eliminated second round
Tonight, Bryce Harper will be the for sure favorite to win the competition. No surprise there. Also, don’t be surprised if we see several ‘Harper and Cubs 2019’ tweets or conversations during tonight’s broadcast.
If we’re going to pick who wins tonight, it would definitely have to be Harper but do not sleep on Jesus Aguilar of the Milwaukee Brewers. Be sure to tune in at 7 p.m. central time on ESPN.