With the Cubs revving their engines for another Championship run, Eugene takes a look at their chances of going back-to-back
With the Cubs revving their engines for another Championship run, Eugene takes a look at their chances of going back-to-back (John L. Alexander/The Bigs Visuals)
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod & Co. have basically sent the deck up as far as draft picks are concerned. Five of the Cubs seven 1st round draft picks, along with Addison Russell who came in a trade from Oakland in 2014, have become major pieces to the Cubs puzzle. Javier Baez '11, Albert Almora Jr '12, Kris Bryant '13, Kyle Schwarber '14, and Ian Happ '15 have all played a key role in the team's quest to be the first NL pennant winner to go back-to-back since the Cincinnati Reds did it in 1975-76’. The Cubs are playing their best baseball at the right time and having fun doing it. "We're having a lot of fun with it that's for sure," said Kris Bryant, who's shown growth in his overall game the last year. He's hitting .297 with 29 HR and 73 RBI thru 154 games. KB has 18 more walks and 31 less strikeouts than his 2016 MVP campaign. His base running is second to none, his play is steady defensively and it's a fact that his teammates can count on him to come to the ballpark ready to go. Addison Russell's return from the disabled list was the boost that the Cubs needed, especially defensively. There were some worries he might've been done for the season with Plantar Fasciitis but he's back and looking refreshed. He has the knack for the big play as we witnessed in last seasons Championship run and the duo of Russell and Javier Baez up the middle is unmatched. Albert Almora Jr. should be the Cubs everyday center fielder for years to come. Sharing his spot with Jon Jay, he's stayed around .300 for most of the season. He's been a force for Joe Maddon both offensively and defensively late in games. He's a competitor and would love to play everyday but he sees the big picture. "I'm a competitor and I wanna play but it's not about me. It's about the Chicago Cubs and it's about winning another World Series. I'm happy to be here and happy to help in whatever way I can." There's no denying what Kyle Schwarber means to the team and one swing of his bat can put a charge into the Cubs like no one else. Javier Baez is truly one-of-a-kind with the glove and if he can lay off the breaking ball in the dirt against top notch pitching, he has top 10 player in the league written all over him. Ian Happ's everyday demeanor says it all: No frills and all business. I think I've only seen him smile once. His versatility has been clutch for the Cubs and no moment will be too big for him as he gets his first taste of October baseball. Anthony Rizzo is having another MVP-caliber season. The clean-up man should set career highs in HR's and RBI's and he, along with Bryant, have less strikeouts and more walks than last year. Willson Contreras' has infectious energy. Ben Zobrist is the reigning World Series MVP. His timely hitting and veteran leadership can't be overlooked. Jason Heyward has had a bounce-back year and can’t be overlooked. Depth is no issue. Happ, Zobrist, Baez, Contreras, Heyward and Bryant have all played multiple positions. The starting pitching has battled injury all year but they know what it takes and they've found their groove as of late. The bullpen looks to be gaining strength at the right time. The Nationals have been patiently waiting. I know the Dodgers would love a rematch. I’m not a huge fan of sequels but Cubs vs Indians Part 2, has a nice ring to it.
Besides, the Cubs pulled the impossible last year ending their 108 year Championship drought, so I say in my best Kevin Garnett voice, “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!”
*piece featured on chicagodefender.com*
If you dig this piece follow @stayhumble for more Cubs coverage from The Bigs