Although my dislike for the Cubs is pretty significant, I have a lot of friends who for some reason like cheering for this team. For that reason, I am going to put together a little 2017 Cubs team and fantasy baseball preview. Coming off of a 2016 world series championship, the “curse” is finally over. It pains me to say this, but the Cubs are set up to win the next for the next five years. Their only weakness is their aging pitching staff, but their lineup is young and full of studs. I have one hot take for this team…I think Joe Maddon is an overrated manager. He has always had top young talent on the teams he has managed over his tenure. To his credit, he motivates his players better than any other manager in the league. But, the brilliance Theo in the front office will help this team stay on top for awhile.
2017 Prediction (107-55)
- Schwarber LF
- Bryant 3rd
- Rizzo 1st
- Contreras C
- Zobrist RF
- Russell SS
- Heyward CF
- Baez 2nd
Regarding fantasy baseball this team is gold, there are so many options top to bottom, guys like both Bryant and Rizzo are first found players ranked #6 and #11 respectably. Kyle Schwarber is #91 on the rankings, and if he gains C eligibility this season, his ranking should go up significantly. Then we have Contreras #110, Russell #118, Baez #128 and Zobrist #133. That is a crazy SEVEN guys in the top 133, this team is going to contribute massive numbers in the hitting categories. Plus, guys like Bryant, Contreras, Russell, Baez and Zobrist all have that magical multi-position eligibility! This team also has four high ranked pitchers with Arrieta #7 pitcher #41 overall, Lester #8 pitcher #42, Hendricks #18 pitcher #19 overall and Wade Davis #24 pitcher and #95 overall. It pains me to say this, but if you want to be successful in fantasy baseball, a couple Cubs on your team won’t hurt.
Anthony Rizzo 1st- One-half of the dynamic Bryzzo duo, I am a big fan of Rizzo. He is my dynasty league first baseman, and there is no other player I rather have there. Over the last three seasons, he has a .285 AVG .386 OBP with 30 HR 92 R and 96 RBI he is a four category player. He has averaged 8 SB in the last three seasons, but his 2015 numbers skew the data a bit. 2014 he had 5 SB, 2015 he had 17 sB, and 2016 he had 3 SB, I wouldn’t expect to see a 17 SB year again, but 5-8 is definitely doable for Rizzo. In 2016 Rizzo had elite power numbers with a .544 SLG, elite OPS at .929 and above average BABIP at .312.
Javier Baez 2nd- I would rule Baez as a “free swinger” at this point in his career. But, let’s be honest he is 24, and I expect nothing but big things from this guy. Baez does not walk much with a 3.3% walk rate last year, and he strikes out too much with a 24% strikeout rate.His K and BB rate aside, when Baez hits the ball, they are falling for hits last year his average was .273 and hit BABIP was very high at .338. As his skill set continues to develop if he can see that walk rate go up and K rate goes down, Baez will be a top of the lineup hitter. He has the potential to be a 20 HR 20 SB player.
Kyle Hendricks P- Hendricks is an enigma. A 2.13 ERA last year? That is an elite ERA something I did not expect from Hendricks going into the 2016 season. Hendricks does not strike very many players out, but he is an extreme groundball pitcher, which means he doesnt get burned by the HR. The Cubs offense and defense is soooo good Hendricks is going to be in line for a lot of wins if the bullpen can keep them in the game. 15 wins for Hendricks is definitely doable. At 27 Hendricks is in the prime of his career, it will be intersting to see if Hendricks can keep his ERA below the 3.00 mark, with that being said he is going to be an excellent #3 pitcher on a magnificent team.