NL Central Preview

Chicago Cubs 2017 Preview

The Cubs finally did it. They broke their 108 year curse last year, winning a memorable World Series in seven games against the Indians.

The Cubs have shown no signs of slowing down either in 2017. PECOTA has the Cubs projected to go 92-70, and win the division by 10 games. The Cubs main core is still fully in tact, and they have young talent that is only getting better.

Key additions

  • Wade Davis, RP (trade from Royals)
  • Jon Jay, CF (free agent from Padres)
  • Koji Uehara, RP (free agent from Red Sox)

The Cubs might have lost Aroldis Chapman, but they gained Wade Davis. It might be hard to believe it, but Davis has been better than Chapman over the last three seasons. Davis has a 1.18 ERA to Chapman’s 1.72.

Key subtractions

  • Aroldis Chapman, RP (free agent to Yankees)
  • Dexter Fowler, CF (free agent to Cardinals)
  • Jason Hammel, SP (free agent to Royals)
  • Jorge Soler, OF (trade to Royals)
  • Travis Wood, RP (free agent to Royals)
  • Trevor Cahill, SP/RP (free agent to Padres)
  • Chris Coghlan, 2B/OF (free agent to Phillies)
  • Davis Ross, C (retired)

The only loss in the off-season for the Cubs that could cause some pain is Dexter Fowler joining the Cardinals. Everyone else has been replaced by better, younger talent. The Cubs have so much position flexibility that they can move Heyward over to CF, and keep their main lineup with Baez at 2B.

Projected Lineup

2017 ZiPS projection courtesy of RotoChamp

When the Cubs have Javier Baez in the lineup instead of Jon Jay, their lineup 1-8 is absolutely unstoppable. There aren’t many teams that have 1-3 hitters who are projected to each hit 30+ home runs.

Projected Rotation

2017 ZiPS projection courtesy of RotoChamp

Lester, Arrieta, and Hendricks is about as good of 1-3 combo as you could ask for. The big question is if Lackey and Anderson can hold their own in the back end.

Bullpen

2017 ZiPS projection courtesy of RotoChamp

Koji Uehara was also a nice addition to the Cubs already strong bullpen.

The Cubs top prospects 

Ian Happ

  1. Eloy Jiminez, OF (ETA: 2019)
  2. Ian Happ, 2B/OF (ETA: 2018)
  3. Albert Almora, OF (on MLB roster)
  4. Dylan Cease, SP (ETA: 2019)
  5. Jeimer Cadelario, 3B/1B (ETA: 2017)

Eloy Jiminez was the top international prospect and signed for $2.8 million in 2013. He hit 16 home runs last year in single-A, and posted a .901 OPS. He is drawing comparison like Giancarlo Stanton.

Ian Happ played his college ball at the University of Cincinnati, and is quickly making his way through the Cubs system. Happ hit 5 home runs in spring training with a .392 AVG before being sent to the minor league camp. Happ finished the year at AA last season.

Conclusion 

The rest of the NL Central has to hope that the Cubs partied too hard this off-season, and will have a slow start to 2017 after their emotional World Series win. The Cubs stars made a plethora of media engagements over the off-season. Maybe a slow start could make things at at least interesting at the All-Star break. But it is probably more likely that the Cubs are chasing down the Mariners regular season wins record than fighting off someone in the division.

5 thoughts on “Chicago Cubs 2017 Preview

  1. Pitching wins championships, and the Cubs have a pretty good pitching staff, starters and bullpen.
    But Arrieta regressed last year from his Cy Young year in 2015, and will likely regress some more in 2017. They depend on two older pitchers in Lackey and Lester to continue to perform at a very high level; that may not happen.

    Still, I think it is likely they will win more than 92 games in 2017, and win the division. And we will see just how good (or bad) Kyle Schwarber does in left field. Maybe Zobrist ends up out there and Baez gets to play more 2nd Base.

    Heyward probably plays a lot of CF this year, and likely won’t be as bad hitting as he was last year, which seemed like a real aberration in his career.

  2. I love the fact that in constructing the batting order they took their obviously three best hitters, Bryant, Rizzo, and Schwarber and put them at the top. Get the best three hitters the most at bats and don’t worry about batting the fastest guys at the top of the lineup.

    • And no “middle infielder” batting second so they can advance the lead off man with a bunt. And are they playing the game “the right way”? Someone tell George Grande and Dusty Baker, quick.

      • David, even worse is that they don’t bat the fastest guy on the team leadoff.

  3. The Cubs are very good but let’s not get carried away. Hayward has not shown in spring training that he has improved one bit. Zobrist and Lackey are both very old by today’s standards. schwarber has not proven to hit lefties yet.

    All that said they’re still a very good team but I was more than a bit surprised Cubs management didn’t do more to augment the starting pitching.

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