After famously winning the 2016 World Series, the Chicago Cubs were supposed to be baseball's next super-team. Instead, the Cubs have missed the postseason the last two years and moved on from manager Joe Maddon.
Still, the Cubs have a very talented roster that has the potential to win the NL Central this year.
The Cubs are +260 to win the division on FanDuel Sportsbook, the second-best odds of the five teams. Their World Series odds sit at +2800. With new manager David Ross promising to inspire the entire organization, here are three stats that prove his tenure will start with an NL Central title.
1. Yu Darvish: 0.77 BB/9 in the second half
When the Cubs signed Yu Darvish to a six-year, $128 million deal, they were certainly hoping for much more than they've gotten thus far. However, Darvish's excellent second half in 2019 was enough to give the front office hope. Darvish missed most of 2018 with multiple arm injuries and looked completely broken in the first half of 2019 after pitching to a 5.31 ERA and an unsightly 4.55 walk rate. But in July, Darvish flipped the switch and returned to his status as one of the best pitchers in baseball. His second half ERA was a sparkling 2.71, capped by a brilliant September where he had a 15.37 K/9 and a 1.16 FIP over 26.1 innings. Darvish's second half walk rate was a minuscule 0.77, and if he can continue that otherworldly control into 2020, the Cubs will have an ace at the top of the rotation.
2. Javier Báez: 19 Outs Above Average
When Statcast rolled out their new "Infield Outs Above Average" (OAA) stat over the offseason, Javier Báez topped the list, beating out Nolan Arenado and Andrelton Simmons. OAA is intended to account for range and difficulty, and there's no doubt that Báez tops the chart in both categories on defense. Báez was always a great defensive shortstop, but last year's performance firmly placed him among the league's very best defenders. Combined with a great power stroke and an ability to hit for average, Báez is set to be one of the best values in baseball in 2020. As long as he rebounds well from the thumb injury that ended his season, Báez's defensive improvement makes the Cubs' infield one of the best all-around groups in the league.
3. Kris Bryant: 135 wRC+
After an injury-shortened 2018, there were some doubts on whether Kris Bryant was still the MVP-caliber player he was in 2016 and 2017. Although there were bumps in the road, Bryant ultimately proved that his hitting skill was as good as ever, posting a strong 135 wRC+ season and a .282/.382/.521 line. Despite a messy offseason highlighted by a grievance filed against the Cubs and numerous trade rumors, Bryant's offensive ability is as strong as ever. Bryant provides a huge amount of stability in the Cubs' lineup and his continued production is key. That being said, if things go south, Bryant could also be a significant piece in restocking the Cubs for 2021.
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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.