Cubs are projected to be the best defensive team in the National League

With Cody Bellinger back in the fold, the Cubs could be a historically good defensive team.

San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs
San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages
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Defense wins championships, right? That's the hope for the Chicago Cubs in 2024. After two of the best defensive teams in the league squared off in the World Series last year, Craig Counsell is looking to lead what should be a very good defensive squad deep into October.

Looking at the National League as a whole, no team is expected to be better than the Cubs with the leather this year, according to the latest data from FanGraphs. In a full breakdown over at MLB.com, here's what Mike Petriello had to say about Chicago defensively.

"Yes, this includes Cody Bellinger, and that helps. But he’s not the best or even second-best fielder on this club, not considering the elite middle-infield duo of shortstop Dansby Swanson and second baseman Nico Hoerner. (Each won a Gold Glove Award last year.) Those two give the Cubs thebest defensive middle infield by a considerable margin, to the point that they’re two of the top five projected defenders for 2024."

Cubs could be a potentially historic defensive team in 2024

As Petriello notes, the return of Bellinger doesn't hurt matters - especially if he winds up playing first and the game's best defensive outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong handles things in center field. Both corner infield spots come with some question marks, but looking at the big picture, this is a very solid group, as a whole.

Chicago projects for +35 defensive runs - a mark that ranks second only to the Cleveland Guardians, who are slated for a staggering +47 mark to set the pace in the American League. If Christopher Morel settles in and can even be a league-average third baseman, the Cubs could boast the best defensive infield in the game.

Counsell is a big fundamentals guy. And if the early indications wind up being accurate, his team will give him a lot to be happy about in terms of run prevention in 2024.

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