NL CEN­TRAL

Cecil Whig - - INSIDEBASEBALL -

1. CHICAGO The Cubs have as­sem­bled ar­guably the best crop of 2. ST. LOUIS young play­ers in years, and also re­cently spent money 3. PITTS­BURGH in free agency and on man­ager Joe Mad­don.

Now, they have big power in Kris Bryant, 4. CINCIN­NATI

An­thony Rizzo and Kyle Sch­war­ber, per5. MIL­WAU­KEE

haps the game’s best right fielder in Ja­son Hey­ward, as well as ver­sa­til­ity in in­field­ers Javier Baez and Ben Zo­brist. And don’t for­get about fu­ture all-stars Ad­di­son Russell and Jorge Soler. Pitch­ing should be ex­cel­lent, but there are a few ques­tions. Jake Ar­ri­eta’s 2015 sea­son (a ca­reer-best 1.77 ERA) and John Lackey’s (a ca­reer-best 2.77 at age 37) will be tough to re­peat. Never count out the Car­di­nals, but two of the team’s best three play­ers from 2015, ac­cord­ing to Fan­Graphs’ WAR, are now Cubs, and vet­eran stars Adam Wain­wright and Matt Hol­l­i­day are well into their 30s. Don’t for­get the Pi­rates, win­ners of 98 games last year, who re­turn All-Star An­drew McCutchen and ace Ger­rit Cole.

Kris Bryant

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