Chicago Cubs: Three bold predictions for the upcoming season

Kris Bryant / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Kris Bryant / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
4 of 4
Chicago Cubs
Kyle Schwarber / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: The breakout continues for the fan favorite slugger

Let’s be clear. What Nicholas Castellanos brought to the table last summer was nothing short of incredible. The slugging outfielder took a serious run at some long-standing records with the stick and fell just short of eclipsing 60 doubles, something that hasn’t been done since 1936.

More from Cubbies Crib

All the attention centered on Castellanos and whether or not he could almost singlehandedly push Chicago to the postseason for the fifth consecutive season. His efforts came up short, despite a .321/.356/.646 line over the season’s final 51 contests. But while we talked incessantly about Castellanos, a fellow outfielder was making waves of his own.

Since he was drafted, Kyle Schwarber has been lauded as a professional hitter. The guy who can work counts and make pitchers sweat just as easily as he can turn on a pitch and drive it 450-plus feet. Taking him as high as they did in the draft, the Cubs were betting heavily on his bat playing at a high level and last season, we saw that begin to take shape.

Believe it or not, Schwarber was actually better than Castellanos as the season drew down – ranking as one of the most valuable players in all of baseball in the second half. So what can he do for an encore? Build on that success and sustain it over the course of an entire season, becoming an anchor in the order alongside Contreras.

Next. Ross doing all the little things in his first spring as skipper. dark

His efforts in 2020 culminate in his first All-Star selection and he finishes third in National League MVP voting, trailing the award’s two most recent winners, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. He eclipses the 45-homer mark for the first time in his career, as well as the 100-RBI mark. But most importantly, he boosts his OBP to the Rizzo and Bryant-like .400 range, adding another element to his already-strong game.