Expectations for the Cubs couldn’t be any higher heading into the 2016 season. After being swept out of the NLCS, the Cubs are now World Series favorites and getting some major compliments.
ESPN added the latest preemptive round of applause when they released their list of the best infields in Major League Baseball. The Sports giant used “MLB evaluators” to put together a list of the 10 best infields, with the Cubs at the top of the list.
In their rationale for picking the Cubs, each infield spot is broken down. The list takes into account both offense and defense, making the likes of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant that much more valuable. Combined with their defensive stopper, Addison Russell, and the multipurpose tool that is Ben Zobrist, the infield has come together nicely.
On top of all of their pure baseball ability, the group gets along. From ESPN:
Here’s another thing about this group: The players are all similar in personality and professionalism, and even if they weren’t the best group of infielders — which they are — they would have a great experience playing together.
The talent on the infield isn’t wasted on Cubs manager Joe Maddon. During the 2015 season, Maddon regularly compared the Cubs young infield to the Texas Rangers infield from the early 200os, made up of Mark Teixeira, Michael Young, Alex Rodriguez and Hank Blalock.
ESPN is clearly in love with more than just the Cubs infield. Through the offseason they have done breakdowns of each positional group. In addition to the infield they have covered both starting pitching and the bullpen. The Cubs were ranked in the top five in both categories.