Chicago Cubs: These guys still aren’t that old yet
When talking about “primes” in baseball years, the gist is that hitters have to reach a maturity in years of experience and an understanding of hitting while also still being in peak physical shape.
Too old and your body starts breaking down or your fast-twitch muscles and reactions aren’t as good. Too young, and there’s not the patience or understanding of the strike zone or how pitchers will attack. Generally speaking, this “prime” time for baseball players occurs somewhere in the late 20s and early 30s, with 27-31 years of age serving as a pretty good point of reference.
Guess how old most of the core will be next year?
People forget that even though these guys have been playing Major League Baseball for half a decade, they’re still barely entering their prime right now. Anthony Rizzo, the elder statesman of the group, is only 30. Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant are 27, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber are 26. Heck, David Bote is also 26 and Albert Almora and Ian Happ are only 25.
The point is, these guys are just coming into their own as players, despite numerous years and opportunities at the major league level. Look what happened when Baez finally got 600 PA in 2018: he finished second in the NL MVP voting. Schwarber started displaying the approach and consistency every fan has been waiting for after being given regular playing time and not sitting him against lefty.
People forget these guys are still youngsters adjusting and fine-tuning. Given a fresh voice at manager, a solid guy to lead off, and some new influx of role players and you could be looking at a blossoming flower rather than the wilted plant most saw at the end of the season.