While it has been an ugly season in terms of their record, the Chicago Cubs undoubtedly have a bright future ahead. The rebuild that seemed doomed for many years could be a lot quicker than most anticipated.
The young talent at the major league level is already showing early returns and the top prospects in the organization seem poised to make more debuts by the end of this season or the start of the 2023 year.
If you look at the Cubs’ performance this year, you have to dig a bit below the surface to find the real takeaways from this season. While the Cubs are near the bottom of the league in terms of record, looking at some of the team and individual stats tells a different story.
They are middle of the pack in terms of hits per game and they are among the league’s best in stolen bases. The ERA of their starting pitchers has been above league average this year as well. The signs of an up-and-coming team are showing.
The contact, patience, and athleticism are there, which is important for a young squad. There is strong veteran leadership from the clubhouse leaders.
The team’s energy and culture have remained strong throughout a tough season. All of these point to success down the line if they keep building.
These fundamentals are important for building a competitive team. Looking at the key position players going forward, names like Nico Hoerner, Seiya Suzuki, Willson Contreras (hopefully), Ian Happ, and Christopher Morel are all five-tool players who have all had excellent seasons.
While there have been ups and downs for all of these players, they have given the team a good foundation to build around. Happ and Contreras have especially become stars after a couple of down years. Both have changed their approach to make more contact and put together better at-bats.
The pitching, especially lately from the starters, has been surprisingly solid. What looked like a middle to bottom tier rotation has been a strength of the team with quality contributions from newcomer Marcus Stroman to lead the way.
The young guys, mainly Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele, have exceeded expectations. Steele especially has looked sharp in the second half of the year and could be a future top-of-the-rotation starter if he develops another pitch.
While Wade Miley and Kyle Hendricks have had disappointing years due to injury, Drew Smyly and Adrian Sampson have filled those spots very nicely in the rotation. Even some of the Triple-A players who got called up played well when asked, especially Javier Assad and Hayden Wesneski as of late.
There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the Chicago Cubs in 2023.
Of course, we cannot forget about the plethora of minor league talent that is on deck. The hype around Pete Crow-Armstrong was insane this year and Brennan Davis has looked good since coming back from injury.
Guys like Matt Mervis and Kevin Alcantara have risen up rankings due to their great seasons and the pitching prospects have all been doing amazing. Caleb Killian deserves some extra praise as he has seen some major league time this season.
This is not a fluff piece on a bad team but rather a statement of realization that the team is not quite as bad as things would seem. There are still a lot of unanswered questions going into the offseason.
Some of the players have just been outright bad this year. Still, the Chicago Cubs just swept the NL East-leading New York Mets on the road. A lot of players are getting hot in the home stretch of the season which will help carry momentum into next season.
With another offseason for the young players and prospects, an added ace to the rotation, and a restocking of the bullpen after the deadline depletion, this team could be in the hunt for a playoff spot next season in a weaker division.
It has been an ugly season but the positives that have been seen from the Chicago Cubs give real hope for the upcoming years.
Where it was once seen as a long and grueling rebuild ahead, it is now a team that is on the rise with a lot of young talent waiting in reserve. Fans should be excited for this team after all that has happened in recent years.