Cincinnati Reds: How does the hitting rank against the NL Central?

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 19: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs confronts pitcher Amir Garrett #50 of the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park on May 19, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Benches cleared after Javier Baez #9 of the Chicago Cubs struck out to end the inning and got into a shouting match with Garrett. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 19: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs confronts pitcher Amir Garrett #50 of the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park on May 19, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Benches cleared after Javier Baez #9 of the Chicago Cubs struck out to end the inning and got into a shouting match with Garrett. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Reds
CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 20: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs scores during the fourth inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field on September 20, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

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.

Related Story. Reds Top 10 all-time leaders in HRs

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.