3. Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs won 95 games last season, but a tie-breaker loss to the Milwaukee Brewers followed up by a loss in the Wild Card round to the Colorado Rockies ended their season prematurely. The Cubbies return virtually their entire roster from last season, but it’s not enough to rank them any higher than No. 3 in the division.
Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist each put together phenomenal seasons in 2018. Baez was in the running for the NL MVP and Zobrist was arguably the most valuable player on that team during his age 37 season. The Cubs return both Baez and Zobrist along with Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Albert Almora; all of whom hit over .270 last season.
Power-hitting outfielder Kyle Schwarber, who blasted 26 roundtrippers last season, returns for the Cubbies. Rizzo hit 25 homers himself in 2018 and Baez was tied with Cincinnati Reds’ third baseman Eugenio Suarez for No. 7 among National League hitters for home runs.
There’s no question that the Chicago Cubs return a dangerous lineup in 2019, but last year’s addition of Daniel Murphy is no longer with the team. Murphy hit .297 in 35 games with the Cubs last season. It’ll also be interesting to see how many at-bats last year’s surprise rookie David Bote commands. He, of course, plays third base which is the primary position of former MVP Kris Bryant.
Again, no different than the Cincinnati Reds, the Cubs ranking is due more to the fact that other teams in the division upgraded their rosters rather than Chicago falling off track. The Cubs will be right there as we roll into September.