Cubs fans aren't going to love these new preseason rankings
By Jake Misener
It feels like there's more optimism among Cubs fans than there's been in several years - but that sentiment has most certainly not been felt on a national level, where Chicago is widely viewed as a bottom-third of the league club.
In their start-of-season power rankings this week, both MLB.com and The Athletic ranked the Cubs 22nd - ahead of only the rebuilding Reds and Pirates within the NL Central and well behind the Brewers (14) and Cardinals (10). That's yet another indication of the lack of belief writers have in this new-look team and, if we're being honest, that's fair.
Cubs have a lot to prove after disappointing 2021, 2022 seasons
The 2023 season is going to be all about walking the walk for an organization that has been through a ton of turnover and turmoil in the last two-plus years. From the Yu Darvish trade after his NL Cy Young runner-up finish in 2020 to the July 2021 trades of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant - and then the drawn-out saga with Willson Contreras, it feels like there's been some sort of distraction overshadowing the team itself for awhile now.
Now, with a new face of the franchise in Dansby Swanson and that long-sought extension with a homegrown piece in Nico Hoerner, Jed Hoyer and the front office have checked two big-time boxes this offseason. That's not to mention the overhauled roster that brought in Swanson, Jameson Taillon, Cody Bellinger, Eric Hosmer, Trey Mancini, Brad Boxberger, Michael Fulmer and Tucker Barnhart.
Don't get me wrong. The Cubs need a lot of things to break their ways this year if they're going to sneak into the postseason. But I, in no way, believe this is a 74-win team as Fangraphs' preseason projected standings suggest. Is this the best team in baseball? No. But they're definitely capable of climbing these power rankings quickly with a strong start to the season.