It’s disappointing to have the season end with a loss. It’s disappointing to have your team’s season end without making an appearance in the playoffs. Heck, it’s even more disappointing when the Chicago Cubs pretty much had an opportunity to win the National League Central division at the beginning of September to fail to hold onto a Wild Card spot for those final three weeks of the regular season. Maybe that’s why the front office decided to pull the trigger on bringing in a new manager Craig Counsell for potentially the next five seasons with a $40 million contract and firing the beloved former player, David Ross.
There are quite a few reasons why we all can be disappointed with the ending of the 2023 Chicago Cubs season. However, did any of us believe they would make the playoffs at the beginning of the year? I think most Cubs fans didn’t predict this team would even come close to sniffing the playoffs or even finishing in second place in the division. And yet, our Loveable Losers retained that title for another year while beating the odds and providing a little hope for the future.
This past season certainly beat the odds. I reviewed most sportsbook apps and most of them had an average win total for the Cubs listed between 73-76 games. That is not good and shouldn’t warrant an opportunity to make the playoffs. Nevertheless, Ross was able to guide the team to a final record, a winning record, of 83-79. Something positive should be said regarding the performance of the team if they were able to beat Vegas in that category. So, in a way, they were successful with the win total for this past season.
A little insight on me, I like to stay positive and try to be optimistic. I see potential in a few of the players on the current roster and like what I saw from certain individuals. Those players would consist of Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson, Ian Happ, Christopher Morel, and Justin Steele.
First, I wanted to see what it would look like with Nico Hoerner switching positions from shortstop to second base. Ultimately, I wanted to see how he handled the transition with last year’s big offseason acquisition of Swanson as his double-play partner. Neither one of those individuals would disappoint. Both players led the team in WAR (Win Above Replacement) with Hoerner and Swanson at 5.1 and 4.8 respectively. They both had stellar years defensively by winning Gold Glove Awards at their positions.
Speaking of defense, Ian Happ was able to capture his second consecutive Gold Glove award as well. He has secured his spot in left field for the future with this team. It did him good a couple of years ago when he was sent down to work on his craft with the Iowa Cubs. Essentially, that was the same philosophy that was used with Christopher Morel. People laughed at my previous article when I said he would be the Cubs' “X-Factor” in 2023. After starting the first month in Triple-A, Morel exploded on the scene by hitting monster-sized home runs all over the place at the big-league level. He would finish the year tied for the team’s most homers with 26. He provided a spark on offense and was versatile on defense by playing multiple positions.
Finally, I want to see another performance given to us by starting pitcher, Justin Steele. In his third Major League season, Steele was selected for his first All-Star game and finished fifth in the National League Cy Young Award voting. He has pitched an ERA (Earned Run Average) of under 3.20 in back-to-back years. He was at times the best pitcher in all of baseball during this past season. The left-handed hurler has the opportunity to become the Cubs' future ace pitcher now that Marcus Stroman has decided to test the free-agent market.
The 2023 season may have ended on a sour note of disappointment. However, the future can still be successful for this organization in the next couple of years. Plenty of optimism can be made about the talent on the current roster. Now, it’s up to the front office to make some moves.