Chicago Cubs: Outfield core has plenty of room to grow in 2019

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 16: Ian Happ #8 of the Chicago Cubs high fives with Albert Almora Jr. #5 and Jason Heyward #22 after the final out in a 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on August 16, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 16: Ian Happ #8 of the Chicago Cubs high fives with Albert Almora Jr. #5 and Jason Heyward #22 after the final out in a 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on August 16, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Heading into Spring Training following a quiet offseason, the Chicago Cubs are still expected to compete. If they expect to advance past the Wild Card playoff, all hands need to be on deck.

From top to bottom, this Chicago Cubs team is stacked with talent. Something we’ve been saying for the past several years. They still have the tools to reach and win the World Series in 2019.

Last season was a bit of a frustrating experience despite reaching the postseason for yet another year under Joe Maddon. One man who was under fire after making several questionable decisions.

Now, we’re nearing the end of January and focused on the Cubs mauling the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers. Not to discredit Cincinnati or Pittsburgh but the division title should be a battle between the three previous N.L. Central champions.

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If the Cubs seek to dethrone the Brewers and a bulked up Cardinals roster, they’re going to need more production across the board. Specifically the outfield.

No doubt, missing out on Bryce Harper was a shame. However, it’s a business, and it didn’t quite seem as if Chicago was the destination of choice for Harper and his camp.

Let’s take a look at some numbers from last season.

The Numbers

Harper ended the 2018 campaign with 34 homers and 100 RBI. His 34 bombs were more than what Albert Almora Jr., Jason Heyward, and Ian Happ would combine for. As for Kyle Schwarber, he swatted 26 big flies while driving in 61 behind a .238/.356/.823 clip.

All four men handling outfield duties combined for 54 homers, 203 RBI, and 438 hits while Almora (.286) and Heyward (.270) held the top two batting averages of the group. One department you cannot question is their ability to field with Gold Glove veteran Heyward leading the way.

Speaking of Heyward, the 29-year-old is a prime example in which his fellow outfield brothers should follow. Each year, Jason takes the necessary steps to improve his game including hitting mechanics to which improved his batting line since first joining the organization in 2016.

Room To Grow

As we approach spring, keep an eye on this section of the depth chart aside from the bullpen. Offensive production from this group is going to be key as teams are going to want to avoid pitching directly to Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, or even Ben Zobrist with runners on.

With plenty of room to grow in every aspect of the game, an increase of their combined numbers from last season may see a significant jump in 2019. Between Almora and Heyward’s consistency or Happ and Schwarber’s power, improvement is the keyword moving forward.

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You should never be satisfied with your performance even when you’re at the top of the mountain. Surely, this is something Joe will be focusing on when it’s time to get back to work. We’re officially counting down the days as we close in on February.

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