For the third straight season, the Chicago Cubs are entering the season as serious World Series contenders, and their roster depth reflects that standing in the baseball world.
How will things shake out for the Cubs as they convene in Mesa and get their spring underway? We’re taking a deep dive into the team’s roster and finding out where things stand with the club, and today we’re focusing on the team’s outfield.
A slimmed down Kyle Schwarber will be hoping that his leaner frame will lead to ease of movement in the outfield and will translate into a better season at the plate as well. He hit just .211 in 129 games with the Cubs last season, but did club 30 home runs and drove in 59 RBI.
Schwarber should get plenty of time in left field, but other players on the team could find themselves in the position if he ends up struggling at the plate. With Javier Baez likely demanding an increase in playing time at second base, Ben Zobrist should patrol left as well for the Cubs, and Ian Happ should once again vie for playing time at multiple outfield positions.
With the departure of Jon Jay, the Cubs are looking to rely more on Albert Almora Jr. in center field in the 2018 season. Almora absolutely crushed left-handed pitching last season, with four home runs and a .342 batting average against southpaws, but he’ll need to improve his performance against righties in order to lock down a full-time job.
Jason Heyward could also shift to center field if needed for the Cubs, and Happ will also figure into the mix as the team once again goes into the season without a surefire, everyday option at the position.
The tricky right field at Wrigley will once again be Heyward’s spot primarily, with guys like Zobrist and Kris Bryant potentially filling in if need be. Heyward has yet to really find his hitting stroke with the Cubs, but has played Gold Glove-caliber defense at the position, meaning that he’s hard to take out of the lineup on a daily basis.