Fundamental changes prove to be a step in the right direction for Chicago Cubs

Michael Affatato, Staff Writer

The Chicago Cubs are making a run that no one other than the loyal Cubs fans themselves would ever believe. ESPN analyst Jesse Rodgers projected that the Cubs would win a maximum of 80 games this season, which would leave them below .500 on the season.

Despite these predictions, the Cubs ended up winning 97 games. They ended the season fourth in the MLB. This miraculous run was possible because of multiple pieces of the puzzle coming together.

First was Joe Maddon, the new manager for the Chicago Cubs. He instilled his philosophy of hard work and simple baseball into the minds of his young talent.

Another piece of the puzzle was Jake Arrieta’s historic run in the second half of the season. He had an ERA of 0.75, which is the best in the history of the MLB according to the ESPN website. Arrieta also had a no-hitter this season, the first of his career.

One of the final pieces of the puzzle was the surprisingly strong impact of all their young players this year. Kris Bryant, the Cubs’ rookie third baseman, is just 23 years old and led rookies this season in home runs, RBI’s and runs. Rookies Addison Russell, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber all have made huge improvements from their debuts to the postseason. Soler has reached base 9 out of 9 times breaking the previous record of 5 straight at bats. Kyle Schwarber also has come through in the playoffs with a batting average of .500 with two dingers.

While those two have been producing heavily on the offensive side, Addison Russell has been making golden glove type plays at shortstop, despite leaving Monday’s game in the fourth inning due to hamstring tightness. His return has not yet been decided.

The Cubs took a 2-1 series lead against the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 12 with an 8-6 win at Wrigley Field. They have a chance to clinch a spot in the National League Championship Series Oct. 13 at 3:37 p.m. Central Time.