Can the Chicago Cubs capture lightning in a bottle again with this rebuild?

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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Jed Hoyer / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Much can be said about the Chicago Cubs and their shortcomings from 2018-2021, in what was supposed to be a prime window of contention. However, even more can be said about how the Theo Epstein rebuild came together so flawlessly and even ahead of schedule in 2015. When the Cubs finally won it all in 2016, “The Plan” was praised by fans and experts alike as the team made history.

Now Epstein is gone, and his former right-hand man Jed Hoyer is now in charge. Hoyer has a tall task ahead. He has already stripped the old car down and is looking to build one from scratch with essentially all new parts. Developing fresh talent in the minor league system and evaluating which moves need to be made this winter and beyond will be key to getting back into contention hopefully sooner than later.

Like many great sports stories, good fortune factors in this process. I do not want to just say “luck” because that might sound like me saying the team did nothing to deserve success, but got it unwillingly due to unlikely events taking place. “Good fortune” is a way to say that part of a team’s success was or is attributed to everything working as planned, or better, with minimal interference of undesired events or outcomes (injuries, poorly-times slumps, clubhouse issues etc.). While the team at the time was built very well, the Cubs’ run in 2015-2016 certainly had some good fortune that aided their success.

The term “capture lightning in a bottle” is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “to succeed in a way that is very lucky or unlikely”. In sports, this term is often used to describe fluke or one-year-wonder seasons by a team or player. The Epstein-built Cubs had multiple years of getting to at least the NLCS, so 2016 was certainly no fluke.

That said, the likeliness of the Epstein rebuild coming together the way it did was far from a guarantee, and one could say the team did catch lightning in a bottle when it all came to shape. So much of what happened in 2015-2016 could have gone differently, but it all went right, which is hard to pull off just based on the odds of what can occur on any given day on a baseball field.

One of the big questions going forward, is can lightning strike twice on the next rebuild?