No team has repeated as World Series Champions since the New York Yankees won three in a row from 1998 to 2000. This year, the Chicago Cubs look to join an elite group as back to back champio
ns. With the season underway, here is all you need to know about the Cubs pursuit of their second World Series championship in a row.
Key Offseason Losses:
Dexter Fowler, Center Fielder: The Cubs catalyst from 2016 departed in free agency for the Cardinals. “Dex” earned big time money after having the best season of his career in which he had a .276 batting average. Fowler was a great leadoff hitter, center fielder and fan favorite.
Aroldis Chapman, Closing Pitcher: The Cubs traded for Chapman midway through the 2016 season, giving up an elite prospect in Gleyber Torres to land the flame throwing lefty from the Yankees. While Chapman was only a member of the Cubs for a short period of time, his contributions will be forever remembered, as the Cubs World Series drought would have most likely continued without him.
Key Offseason Additions:
Jon Jay, Center Fielder: Formerly of the Cardinals and Padres, Jay will be splitting center fielding duties with Albert Almora Jr. and Jason Heyward this year. Jay is a career .286 hitter and has a .996 fielding percentage while in center. While Jay is not a star by any means, he will be a key role player throughout Cubs 2017 campaign.
Wade Davis, Closing Pitcher: Davis was acquired in the offseason via trade, in which the Cubs sent Outfielder Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals. Davis has been an All-Star the past two seasons and when healthy, has been dominant. If Davis stays healthy, his services as closing pitcher will be essential to the Cubs success this season.
Kyle Schwarber, Left Fielder/Catcher: While Schwarber has been in the Cubs organization his whole career, he is in the key additions section because last year he ended his regular season campaign with a knee injury in the first week of the season. Schwarber miraculously returned for the World Series and was able to be the Designated Hitter in Cleveland. He is already touted as an elite hitter in the MLB and a full season with Schwarber should further improve the Cubs already potent offense.
Things to watch:
Starting Pitching: The Cubs starting rotation posted extremely low ERA numbers last year. The rotation brings back four of five starters from last season: Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Kyle Hendricks and the addition of Brett Anderson. If this group can put up a season anywhere near what they did 2016, it bodes well for the Cubs success.
Youth: Albert Almora Jr., 22. Addison Russel, 23. Javier Baez, 24. Wilson Contreras, 24. Kyle Schwarber, 24. Kris Bryant, 25. Every single one of these players made huge contributions last year and are 25 years old or under. Youth can sometimes be used in a negative connotation, often used to describe an undisciplined team. In the Cubs case, their youth is one of their greatest strengths. These Cubs core players have deep postseason experience and youth, while still having room for improvement.
Conclusion: The Cubs have the roster to make a deep run again this year, and for many years to come. Yes, the Cubs should have another great regular season. Yes, the Cubs should have another shot at a World Series Championship. But, it’s baseball and anything can happen. Between things such as injuries, slumps or running into a hot team in the playoffs, the Cubs could very well lose in the playoffs. There is a reason there have been no repeat champions since 2000. But, Cubs fans it’s a long season with a lot of baseball to be played. Sit back, relax and enjoy watching the 2017 Cubs.
* All stats and info garnered from baseball-reference.com