This article is going to be the first part of a three-part series in which I will be taking a deep dive into the Cubs and really analyzing their roster and how long their championship window will stay open.
I want to start is article by saying two things: At some points during this article series it may sound like I am a Cubs fan, that is far from true. I love the Cardinals more than anything in the entire world but I just want to educate this fan-base on the team that the Cardinals are chasing. The second being that if you do not think that the Cardinals are chasing the Cubs you are delusional. The Cubs, AS OF RIGHT NOW, are a superior team to our beloved Redbirds.
The first article in this series will focus on the young core of position players that they have on their Roster. Players such as Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs are loaded with players 25 and under (expect for Rizzo who is 28) that are all making significant contributions to this team. Not going to lie, this is very scary as a Cardinals fan.
First let’s take a dive into Kris Bryant. He was drafted in the 2013 draft 2nd overall and he has not disappointed. In his third season in the big leagues and he has already won an NL rookie of the Year (2015) and NL MVP (2016), and oh yeah, and he brought a World Series ring to an organization that hadn’t seen one in over a 100 years. It is safe to say that Kris Bryant is an absolute stud and is going to stay that way for a long time.
Bryant is under team control through the 2021 season. This year will become a theme throughout this article as many of the Cubs young core do not become free agents until after the 2021 season. Bryant has a career WAR of 6.1 and posted a 6.7 WAR in the 2017 regular season. These numbers rank him first on the North Side on the ball club and sixth in the majors, behind the likes of Judge, Altuve, Trout, and Stanton. That is some pretty good company to be a part of. As a Cardinals fan, knowing that Kris Bryant will be apart the Cubs organization for the next 4 seasons and possibly longer makes me a little nervous.
Anthony Rizzo is coming off of a very good regular season in which he had a slash line of .273/.392/.507 and also, he drove in 109 runs and hit 32 homeruns. A lot of Chicago media were saying he should have been in the running for NL MVP. As I think there are many other candidates that have better other resumes, I do believe he should at least be in the discussion. He was in the discussion last year and he had a little better season this year expect for his average which dipped by about .020 points.
Behind the plate, the Cubs have a young stud in Willson Contreras. He is considered by some to be the best catcher in the National League, personally I’d rather have Yadi. Molina may not have the power bat that Contreras has but his command of the pitching staff is unmatched by anyone in the majors. Back to Contreras, Willson went deep 21 times this year and hit .276.
Defensively, he had 7 defensive runs saved compared to Yadi, the defensive mastermind, who only had 3. Defensive runs saved measures the number of runs a player saved or cost his team on defense relative to an average player. This next line is going piss every cardinals fan reading this but it is the truth. He is an upgraded Yadier Molina. It is just the truth. He has more power and is just as good or if not better, according to the numbers, defensive player. The scary thing is, Contreras is not a finished product, he has a lot of room to grow and could eventually become the best catcher in the big leagues.
The next player I want to talk about is probably one of my favorite players in the majors right now, Javier Baez. I just love the way he plays the game. He plays with so much swagger and flare, in a heartbeat I would take him on the Cardinals. He is everything I want Kolten Wong to be. Offensively, Baez and Wong are similar when you look at the numbers, Kolten hits for a better average but Javier has more pop. Defensively is were Baez really shines, he is a magician in the middle infield.
Now that we have taken a deep dive into the players that make up the young core, we can now project how long they will continue to be a force in the national league. Just based of this core, not taking into account the pitching staff or prospects (which I will dive into in the next article). Each of the players listed above are, or can be, under team control through the 2021 season. That gives the Cubs this season, and another 4 with this core intact. After these four years you never know what could happen with injuries, players leaving for free agency, or trades, this core could be still intact or completely disbanded, you never know. But until that day comes, I think the Cubs are here to stay and will continue to be the team the Cardinals are in the race with or chasing for the NL Central crown.