Yes, reminiscing on a 2016 championship is great, but what will happen this upcoming season for the Chicago Cubs?
I know it’s impossible to predict baseball, but I’m going to try anyway.
Prediction One – The Cubs win their division easily, but don’t hit the 100-win mark
While this prediction is not very bold, many people don’t realize the fact that the Cubs probably will regress a little bit from last season. It’s not that they have a worse team, because they really don’t. It’s the fact that their starting rotation over-performed.
Every single starter had years well above their career average in 2016, and the likelihood of a repeat performance is very low. I hope that pitching coach Chris Bosio is the one responsible and that he can continue his magic, but it’s more likely than not that the starting rotation will not be as completely dominant as they were last season.
That coupled with improvements by teams such as the Washington Nationals will probably be enough to slightly weaken their stronghold on the MLB.
Prediction Two – Top prospect Ian Happ is traded
2015 first-round draft pick Ian Happ can hit, there’s no doubt about that. During the first half of the 2016 season, Happ hit .296 with seven home runs for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He was then promptly promoted to Double-A Tennessee where he continued his solid season hitting .262 with eight homers for the Smokies.
The reason that Happ really doesn’t have a home with the Cubs is that his defense is a big liability. He has yet to find a steady position in the field, partly due to the fact that he isn’t a solid defender anywhere. He had 13 errors at second base alone last year. For reference, Ben Zobrist, someone Happ is consistently compared to, had only seven errors total at the big league level in 2016.
Happ is still a very valuable prospect, and the Cubs recognize this. There’s just too many people wearing Cubbie blue right now who can both hit and field. Happ can easily be flipped with a few other prospects for someone proven at the major league level, perhaps some long-term starting pitching.
Prediction Three – The Cubs repeat as World Series champions
Would I even be a Cubs fan if I didn’t predict this? While they have more opposition this time around, the experience of last year will be vital for many of the young core of players. It may be unlikely that the starting pitching is as good as it was in 2016, but there’s little to support the theory of regression elsewhere on the roster.
It’s also highly unlikely that Jason Heyward will have as dismal of a season as he did last year. Further, young guys like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Wilson Contreras are all becoming more accustomed to playing in the big leagues. This combination should be enough to take down better competition from the likes of the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox. You heard it here first – the Cubs will again be world champions in 2017.