That’s right, Chicago Cubs fans, the 2018 MLB season is coming up quickly, and Wrigley Field is about to be back in action. As we watch the Spring Training games and get ready for the regular season, there are still quite a few questions that need to be answered.
One of the biggest questions that Cubs fans currently have is regarding the Opening Day lineup.
Looking ahead at the potential options for Joe Maddon, there are some obvious players who will fill spots in the lineup and others that will have to earn them during Spring Training. Obviously, names like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Willson Conteras have already earned their spots for the starting lineup.
Chicago is once again viewed as a serious World Series contender. They came up just short last season, falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. Maddon and company firmly believe that they are a better all-around team this year than they were last and are ready to prove that they are once again the alpha dog in the National League.
All of that being said, let’s dive in and take a look at what the Cubs’ Opening Day lineup could look like.
Albert Almora, Center Field
Batting leadoff to begin the season is likely to be Albert Almora, who is expected to have a breakout season. He is going to be relied on to get on base and use his speed to wreak havoc. Almora hasn’t had a consistent role over the past couple of seasons, but he appears ready to become a big part of the Cubs’ offense.
Almora has also made it clear that he would love the opportunity to be the Cubs’ leadoff hitter, as CBS Chicago has noted.
Kris Bryant, Third Base
Next up, Kris Bryant brings one of the best all-around bats that baseball has seen in recent years. While he did not have the season that many were expecting last year, he still hit 29 home runs and drove in 73 RBIs. Bryant is one of the best offensive players in baseball, and he will not disappoint in 2018.
Anthony Rizzo, First Base
Obviously, Anthony Rizzo will be protecting Bryant in the order as he has for the past two seasons. Some may think that Rizzo could get some time as the leadoff after big success in limited attempts last season, but he is going to remain in the three-hole. Rizzo is the “co-face” of the Cubs’ franchise and is going to have yet another MVP-caliber year.
Willson Contreas, Catcher
Last season, the Cubs were ecstatic to see the emergence and development of young catcher Willson Contreras. He smacked 21 home runs and 74 RBIs and batted 0.276 on the season. Contreras is expected to take yet another step forward and become an even bigger threat at the plate for the Cubs in 2018.
This is what incredible hard work and discipline looks like. Anyone want to bet on Kyle Schwarber not having a big season? I'll take that bet. pic.twitter.com/IRruIjj6zE— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 23, 2018
Kyle Schwarber, Left Field
Perhaps the most intriguing player to keep an eye on in the Cubs’ lineup this season, Kyle Schwarber has undergone a body transformation this offseason. He has dropped weight and gotten himself into much better shape. If Schwarber can be more consistent and live up to his full potential, opposing pitchers are going to have a nightmare dealing with him.
Addison Russell, Shortstop
Addison Russell had a bit of a disappointing 2018 season as well at the plate. He is hoping to bounce back in a big way this season and be a consistent offensive player for the Cubs. Russell has a quality bat but needs to figure out his consistency in order to reach his full potential.
Javier Baez, Second Base
Another player that should have a bigger year in 2018 than last season is second baseman Javier Baez. He has one of the most powerful bats in the National League and one of the flashiest gloves in all of baseball. If he finds a way to lay off breaking balls in the dirt and fastballs high in the zone, Baez could become a lethal hitter.
Jason Heyward, Right Field
Jason Heyward was a huge free agency get for the Cubs a couple years back, at least they thought he would be. His bat has been a huge disappointment, but his glove has been solid. Chicago is hoping that this will be the year that he puts it all together and lives up to the hype.