Blengino: The Cubs’ historic offensive infusion

From SABR member Tony Blengino at FanGraphs on September 4, 2014:

Sparks of enthusiasm are once again kindling among Chicago Cubs’ loyalists, as the long-awaited influx of position-player talent onto their major league roster has begun in earnest. The club is far from a finished product, and a loaded minor league system is no guarantee of major league success — just ask some of the teams I’ll discuss below. It’s an exciting time on the North Side, however, and this is before Kris Bryant — arguably the best of the lot — has been penciled into the big-league lineup. How does this group match up with some other recent talent infusions? 

For much of the 2014 season, the National League Central has featured one of the most interesting races in baseball. Until recently, it was a four-team scrum, and with the recent fade of the Reds, it’s now down to three. The one club that hasn’t been involved in anything more than a spoiler role has been the Chicago Cubs. They’ve arguably had more impact to this point on the AL West race, as they traded top starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland back in July. In the process, they added to their stockpile of impact offensive talent, bringing the A’s two best position player prospects — shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Billy Mckinney — into the fold.

The club already had impact youth in place all season at the major league level in the person of Anthony Rizzo, and he has been joined by second baseman Javier Baez, outfielder Jorge Soler and utilityman Arismendy Alcantara as the summer progressed. Bryant, likely the best of them all, isn’t here quite yet, and 2014 first rounder Kyle Schwarber has torn the cover off of the ball in his pro debut. It is an embarrassment of offensive riches that Cubs’ fans hope can at long last lead them to the promised land.

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Originally published: September 4, 2014. Last Updated: September 4, 2014.