Over the past few weeks, ESPN has been ranking teams by individual units – outfield, infield, starting rotation, etc… – which has been quite fun if you’ve been following as a Cubs fan. If you recall, ESPN, as written by Buster Olney, sees the Cubs as having the best infield, second best outfield, fourth best starting rotation and fifth best bullpen. Whew.
Given what Olney thinks of Chicago’s position players, then, it’s no surprise to find out he thinks the Cubs have the third best overall lineup in all of baseball. Behind the Blue Jays and Rangers, the Cubs are actually the proud owners of the best lineup in the National League, according to Olney. In fact, there are only three other NL teams on the list – Diamondbacks, Rockies and Giants – and they don’t show up until spots 8, 9 and 10.
And, although the Pirates are mentioned in the “Best of the Rest” section, this ranking marks the first in the series without a team from St. Louis or Pittsburgh. To Olney, a full season of Kyle Schwarber, the additions of Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward and the experience gained by Kris Bryant and Addison Russell will propel the Cubs lineup to the top of the board. And, of course, that goes without mentioning perennial MVP candidate Anthony Rizzo, the immense potential in the bat of Jorge Soler, and then Miguel Montero, who was the 7th best catcher by wOBA and wRC+ in 2015.
But that isn’t the end of it. It actually gets better.
But still, these predictions are fun to read.
When your lineup is so good that starting calibre players like Javier Baez and Chris Coghlan are on your bench, you have something going for you. When your rotation is led by two legitimate aces, followed by three quality pitchers, and supported by four capable super utility pitchers as depth, you have something going for you. When the two players fans are most worried about on your team are a 23-year-old Jorge Soler and one of the top framing catchers Miguel Montero, you have something going for you.
The 2016 Cubs are looking mighty strong and they’re getting plenty of attention for it. And I say, “Good. Embrace it.”