Chicago Cubs: 5 bold predictions for the regular season

Chicago Cubs v Texas Rangers
Chicago Cubs v Texas Rangers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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Spring training is always an exciting time - but there's nothing like Opening Day and the promise of a new season at hand. The Cubs kick things off against the Brewers on Thursday at Wrigley Field, embarking on a 162-game marathon with a goal of returning to the postseason, and winning a postseason game for the first time since 2017.

The roster features a ton of new faces, including some major bounceback candidates - as Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins continue to reshape the organization following the 2020 departure of longtime president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. It should be an exciting year, to be sure, so without further ado, here are 5 bold regular season predictions for the Cubs.

5 bold Cubs regular season predictions: #5 - Cody Bellinger bounces back

For the Cubs to make a serious run at the NL Central crown, Cody Bellinger doesn't have to get back to his NL MVP level but he needs to take some serious strides in that direction.

Last season with the Dodgers, the former Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star slashed just .210/.265/.389 - good for a 78 OPS+. That works out to 1.2 bWAR and, at a $17 million salary, it's not hard to figure out why Los Angeles cut ties with Bellinger last winter, allowing the Cubs to land him on a one-year prove-it contract.

If Bellinger can get back to being a league average (or a little better) bat and bring his usual Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field, the Cubs are going to come away feeling great about this signing. Finally healthy after injuries had him making all sorts of tweaks to his mechanics, Bellinger has all the makings of a breakout candidate heading into 2023.