Cubs Power Rankings Are All Over the Map

Power rankings don’t matter in any case, but BOY have they not mattered for the Chicago Cubs the last couple years. Whether they were seen as the 25th ranked team or 27th just didn’t move any needles for me. Whatever.

BUT! This year, as the Cubs look to actually try to make the playoffs, I do find power rankings mildly interesting. I am curious what the national conversation looks like about the Cubs.

To that end, there was a trio of power rankings that came out today, and they are all over the map on where to place the Cubs. Which, frankly? Seems fair to me, given how early it is, and how much more the Cubs need to do in order to get actual buy-in from folks who are trying to analyze and evaluate 30 teams.

The most reserved take comes from MLB.com’s Will Leitch, who ranks the Cubs 18th, one spot behind the Cardinals, and 12 spots behind the Brewers. I think the 18 is fair in the abstract, though it doesn’t FEEL to me like the Cubs are 12 spots worse than the Brewers, even if the latter has had a blazing hot start to the season in the standings. (By the way: super annoying that the Padres rolled over to the Brewers to give them 3 of 4 in that series this weekend, and super-duper annoying that the Brewers got those four against the Padres juuuust before Fernando Tatis Jr. returns from suspension.)

By contrast, the most optimistic take comes from Jake Mailhot at FanGraphs, who places the Cubs in the “on the cusp of greatness” tier, with only four teams total in the tiers ahead of them. It looks like the teams are roughly ranked within the tiers, so, it seems the Cubs are essentially ranked 6th. Which, hey. I love that the Cubs have won a few series in a row and have a nice 8-6 record (9th best in baseball if we’re doing that kind of thing). Would I rank them 6th, even in a “right now” situation? I would not. But it’s fun to have that conversation!

The write-up from the FanGraphs piece, though, strikes me as similarly just a touch too rosy:

The Cubs’ veteran reclamation project seems to be paying off so far. Cody Bellinger, Trey Mancini, and Eric Hosmer are all contributing on offense, though they’re not necessarily playing up to their previous standards. The team just extended Ian Happ and activated Seiya Suzuki from the IL over the weekend. But the real reason they’ve looked so good early this season is a better-than-expected pitching staff. Their rotation has been solid despite some early season hiccups from Hayden Wesneski, and their bullpen is a lot deeper than it looked on paper.

I agree that the pitching has been great (though I thought it was going to be great, so it hasn’t been “better-than-expected” to me!), but the take on the offense is an odd one. As we’ve discussed, Mancini and Hosmer have been terrible. Of all the guys to call out, that’s not where I would’ve gone.

Lastly, it’s just a visual from Ben Verlander at Fox Sports:

https://twitter.com/MLBONFOX/status/1647974491145011201

I could probably make a top ten argument for the Cubs if you asked me to do it, though I’d admit it still feels a little high. For me, I would probably say the Cubs should be ranked in that 12 to 15 range: better than the average team, but not clearly in a playoff spot. I could see that being where the Cubs wind up in the final standings, though we hope some positive variance can sneak them into the postseason.

Up this week for the Cubs, three in Oakland and then back home to Wrigley Field for four against the Dodgers. A 4-3 stretch over those seven games wouldn’t bother me one bit, even if it wouldn’t necessarily do much to bump the Cubs in rankings like these.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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