Special thanks to @Cubbynole for giving a Cub’s fan opinion on the 2017 season. In October last year, the Chicago Cubs were on top of the world. They had just won their first World Series in 108 years. They also dominated the regular season, winning 103 games that year. The magic that permeated the club last year just does not seem to be present this year. As of writing this, the Cubs have a two game lead over the St.Louis Cardinals and 2 ½ games above the Brew Crew. The spark the 2016 team had however, doesn’t seem to be there as they come off being swept courtesy of the Milwaukee Brewers. What’s the difference been in one year?
- The Good
- It’s hard not to start off with who is essentially the heart of the Cubs organization; who had to labor through the tough rebuild until seeing the fruits of its labor. That guy is Anthony Rizzo. He had a very slow start, batting just .194 in May. Since the All-Star break, Rizzo has mashed at a .310 level. His all-important presence helps back up a team who has struggled offensively compared to last year.
- Another positive is that Jake Arrieta has righted to the ship. Arrieta had a 4.35 ERA heading into the 2nd half, but has had a 1.98 ERA since. With a well-rested bullpen and Arrieta leading the rotation, the Cubs are as dangerous as ever. He was recently diagnosed with a grade 1 hamstring injury, but will seemingly be ready for the playoffs if and when they make it.
- Kris Bryant is still Kris Bryant. Not quite the MVP candidate as he was last year, Bryant has continued to hit bombs while maintaining a decent .285 average, his only knock? Batting .122 in high leverage situations.
- Ladies and gentlemen, Wade Davis may just be the best closer in baseball. While having a relatively low number of saves for a closer, Davis has been clutch in all 29 of them. His walk rate is high at 4.9 per 9, but his K rate is deadly at 11.5 per 9.
- The Ugly
- Jon Lester has not been vintage Jon Lester, or has he? It seems to be a pattern with Lester, having a dominating year and then sinking back to mediocrity, and mediocre is what Lester has been this season. His first and second half have been eerily similar, and not in a good way. With the resurgence of Kyle Hendricks, Lester might find himself the third wheel in the rotation come playoff time.
- Ben Zobrist has not been clutch this season, without the emergence of Ian Happ, the lineup might be much worse off. Zobrist is batting .236 with 10 homers this season, hardly anything to write home about, yet he’s run out there almost every day. Two Time World Series Champion maybe, but he has not deserved a starting role this year.
- Not putting the N.L. Central to bed. Lets face it, the N.L. Central has been one of the weaker divisions this year, especially if you glance over at the West. If the Cubs had played to what they were last year, the division would have been over a month ago, but they have let teams like the Brewers and Cardinals hang around. They may still be the favorites in the N.L. Central, but the race is far from over.
- No growth from their young players. Kyle Schwarber had to be sent to the minors, Javier Baez, while still a defensive whiz, has not produced with the bat as much as Joe Maddon would have liked. Addison Russell without power is just an average at best shortstop, with a good glove, they simply did not see enough growth from their young core this year to dominate the N.L Central