Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fantasy Baseball: Who Are the Chicago Cubs?

Fantasy Baseball is just around the corner and it’s never too early to start doing your homework on your league and your team specifically. We went over a team already that I personally thought many wouldn’t know in the Atlanta Braves so I wanted to go back into your comfort zone with today’s team, the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs added a few key pieces to an already young and stacked team as they look to not only compete in the National League Central Division but as they look to break that Curse of the Billy Goat. 

You know the names of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist and what they bring to the table but what about the rest of the team? There’s plenty of talent on this Cubs team that you may want to draft but one pitcher you may want to stay away from, at least early on, is John Lackey. Lackey pitched brilliantly in St. Louis last season posting a 2.77 ERA with the Cardinals but the peripherals and other stats paint a different story. Lackey left an amazing 82.6 percent of his batters on base last season and is not likely to duplicate that in 2016, especially with the smaller dimensions inside Wrigley Field and especially with the wind blowing out during all those day games. Lackey also posted the lowest strikeout rate in his last three seasons in 2015 and will be entering his age 37 season in 2016. Stay clear unless it’s late. 

Addison Russell took over for Starlin Castro last season and will have the starting shortstop job until he loses it in 2016. Russell is just 22-years old and has a long way to go in his development but he did show signs of life in the second half of 2015 posting a .259 average with seven home runs in August and September alone. Russell has the potentially, maybe not necessarily in 2016 but soon, to his 30 home runs and steal a ton of bases. Who wouldn’t want that on your fantasy team, especially at the second base position? 

Adam Warren should get a ton of opportunities in Chicago both as a starting pitcher and as a reliever but how will he stack up in fantasy? Well he was easily the Yankees most consistent starter last season outside of Luis Severino and will presumably finally get a shot at a starting gig all season in 2016. For that reason alone Warren should see an uptick in his stats as he struggled in both the bullpen and rotation the first couple appearances after switching from the other. The Yankees tinkered with a pitcher and hurt his value in doing so? Joba, say it ain’t so. 

The final piece to the Cubs piece of the puzzle is right fielder Jorge Soler. Soler is not going to steal you 30 bases a season nor is he going to hit for a .300 average and knock in 120 RBI. He does have the power to hit 30 home runs though as he has shown an ability to hit the ball far when he makes contact. Soler won’t go in the first 10-15 rounds in my opinion unless it’s a pretty deep league so it might be useful to add his occasional power to the end of your draft to boost your team and power your way to another league victory. 

Those are the Chicago Cubs in all their glory. Can they help your team? Absolutely, just be smart about it though and don’t reach for the Soler’s, the Lackey’s or the Javier Baez’s too awful early and you should be just fine.  

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)