Chicago Cubs: Is the NL Central now the best division in baseball?
By Martin Fenn
Chicago Cubs: Team hungry to get back on top
It has been said time and again this offseason, but for the Cubs to still win 95 games in a “down” year is no small feat, especially given some of the circumstances they faced.
Theo Epstein’s offseason additions – Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood – flopped badly, Kris Bryant was constantly hampered by an ailing shoulder and Willson Contreras folded after catching over 1,100 innings, the most in the bigs.
Still, Javier Baez posted a career year, finishing runner-up in the NL MVP race, Anthony Rizzo rebounded from a brutal two-month stretch, and the pitching staff was tremendous – despite battling numerous key injuries.
The front office has spoken ad nauseam about internal improvements being crucial to the team’s success next year, which is hard to argue.
A healthy Darvish and Bryant paired with drastic improvements from the likes of Contreras, Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber (amongst others) could have a truly drastic impact on the team.
The Cubs still need to add a bullpen arm (or two), but regardless of whether or not Chicago signs a big-name free agent like Bryce Harper, this is a nucleus that has averaged over 95 wins for the past four years.
They should expect to compete once again.