THE #1 TEAM: CHICAGO CUBS
The Cubbies have baseball’s best record at 17-5, a .773 pace that would result in more than 120 wins if they can sustain it. I don’t know if that is really possible, but would you bet against this talented group?
Manager Joe Maddon‘s squad was rocked as the season began with the loss of 23-year old slugger Kyle Schwarber for the season. But there remains plenty of talent, including last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, 24-year old 3rd baseman Kris Bryant, who should be a perennial NL MVP candidate now. 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo and newcomer Jason Heyward are just 26-years old themselves.
If 22-year old shortstop Addison Russell can produce some offense, this club still could have another gear. Veterans Ben Zobrist and Dexter Fowler have come in to lengthen the lineup, and 23-year old Javier Baez has become a super sub who is going to eventually push himself to a regular role. Local product 26-year old Matt Szczur of Cape May, New Jersey and Villanova has been important off the bench.
On the mound, the reigning NL Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta, has already tossed a no-hitter this season and is off to a big start at 5-0. Lefty Jon Lester teams with him to give the Cubs perhaps the best 1-2, righty-lefty punch in the game today. 26-year old Kyle Hendricks has really stepped up and provided length to the rotation that also includes veterans Jason Hammel and John Lackey.
The Cubs bullpen is in no way a weak link. Hector Rondon has been near perfect as the closer, and Pedro Strop is a top setup man. There are numerous options that Maddon can call on and feel confident in at any time. The Cubs run differential is +79, almost double the 2nd best team in MLB. Fact is, the Cubs are the favorites to win the World Series. Let’s see if that holds up over the long summer.