Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Feel Good Cubs

I'll give the Cubs credit. Every year since their come-up in 2015, they've held a different approach. In 2015, they were the lovable underdogs; in 2016, they were the all-powerful overlords; in 2017, they were advantageous, charming, but ultimately doomed. And this year? This year they're just a fun, inoffensive, good team to watch.

It's a team's worth of plain goodness; nobody's doing truly terrible (save for a DL-prone Yu Darvish), nobody in the lineup is batting worse than .240, and nobody is dragging the team down. Everything feels compact, consistent, congruent...as if they've done this sort of thing before.

The trick to a team like this, still winning in its fourth incarnation, is allowing other players to take center stage. This year, it's Albert Almora's turn. Brought up simultaneously with Willson Contreras, and promptly overshadowed by him, Almora has exceeded expectations in a year ruled less by power than by efficiency--Almora is not only an impressive defensive outfielder, but he's batting .331 right now with 80 hits. Without being a power hitter, he's commanding the plate whenever he's there, and becoming one of the more consistent performers in the lineup.

That's not to discredit Javier Baez, the current offensive leader, or Kyle Schwarber, finally having a consistent year, or even Ben Zobrist who's been working wonders from off of the bench. The beauty of this team is that when everything's working, everyone gets a chance to shine. Yes, Kris Bryant is still the marquee man, but it's not his team entirely- it's a group effort. Jason Heyward found this out quickly upon joining the team, and wondering why his numbers didn't translate well to the Chicago lineup. Now that he's had some time to rebuild, and focus more on hits and less on power, he's more effective.

Heck, right now the Cubs have the winningest starter in baseball. Jon Lester's got 11 wins, and is showing no signs of slowing down, which is an amazing feeling.

Right now, even if the Brewers have the current edge, the Cubs have the more consistent roster- more people are doing well right now all across the board. And I hope it stays this way.

Coming Tomorrow- The reigning MVP. One of the most fun players in baseball.

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