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2018 MLB Preview: Chicago Cubs

A look at the Chicago Cubs with fantasy baseball in mind.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Basic Stats:

Final Record: 92-70
Runs: 4th
Home Runs: 9th
Stolen Bases: 24th
ERA: 7th
Saves: 16th
Strikeouts: 8th

The 2016 World Series Champion Cubs underperformed in 2017. Outside of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, who were #44 and #52 in fantasy respectively, the Cubs did not have any top 100 fantasy players. Even for those two, the 2017 season was a disappointment. Both were selected in the first 2 rounds of every draft, top 10 for both in many drafts. The Cubs as a team still finished top 5 in runs scored and top 10 in home runs. The pitching staff was also a top 10 group in terms of ERA and strikeouts.

Let’s take a look towards 2018.

The Superstar: Kris Bryant/Anthony Rizzo

Despite a down season in 2017 for both members of Brizzo, they each rank as top 20 selections in 2018. When you look at the final numbers, .273 99 R 32 HR 109 RBI 10 SB for Rizzo and .295 111 R 29 HR 73 RBI 7 SB for Bryant, it’s kind of crazy to consider them a ‘down’ season. That is why they are ranked so highly. I expect both to have even better numbers in 2018. Bryant could be the best hitter in fantasy, he’s that good.

The Sleeper: Javier Baez

Baez had a pretty solid year in 2017. He was a bold prediction for me (as a top 100 player) in Spring Training. This almost proved correct last season and I feel confident it will become a reality in 2018. Baez finished as the #129 overall player despite a terrible April. From May 1 on, Baez was a top 100 player, easily. Playing time was the biggest issue for Baez doubters going into 2017. He played 145 games with 508 AB last year. I don’t think this is going to decrease in 2018. I also expect Baez, who is still just 25, to improve his numbers. In 2017, he was a much better power hitter. 2018 could bring a 20 HR 90 RBI 90 R 10 SB season for Baez. That’s top 100 for sure. He has upside for more, think Francisco Lindor in 2017 type upside! Plus, he’s eligible at both 2B and SS, which doesn’t hurt his case.

Bonus Sleepers: Tyler Chatwood and Brandon Morrow

The Guy to Avoid: Jon Lester

Lester finished 2016 2nd in the Cy Young voting. He had an ADP of 34.5 overall on ESPN in 2017, which made him the #9 SP taken. He’s has the potential of reaching that status again. The problem is, he’s 34, has 2184.1 career IP on his arm, and no longer has David Ross. The last of that was true in 2017 and it certainly showed. Lester’s ERA went from 2.44 in 2016 to 4.33 in 2017. He allowed 32 more earned runs despite pitching 22 fewer innings. He’s just becoming more hittable. He’s also shown to be more prone to injury. The potential for a bounce back is there but I’m not spending a top 100 pick (his current ECR is 86) to find out.

The Prospect To Watch: N/A

The Cubs do not have any players in the top 100 prospects at MLB Pipeline. I don’t see any players in their farm system that will make a significant fantasy impact in 2018.