The Chicago Cubs may not have the best record in the National League, but if they play their cards right, they will be in for many more winning seasons after this one.
On Wednesday night, Chicago second baseman Ian Happ hit his 20th home run of the season to give his team a 5-2 lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The blast was a historic one, as it made the Cubs the first team in MLB history to include five players with 20 or more home runs in their age-25 season or younger.
Take a look at the record-setting swing:
Happ, a rookie, is the latest addition to a power-hitting core that includes fellow young guns Kris Bryant (24 home runs), Kyle Schwarber (24), Willson Contreras (21) and Javier Baez (20). The Cub with the most home runs of all, Anthony Rizzo, is 28, but he’s also under team control for the next four seasons.
All of this shows that the Cubs, for all their first-half struggles this season, are set up remarkably well for the years to come. Youth and home run power have become two of the hottest commodities in baseball, and Chicago has both in spades. The team ranks second in the National League in home runs, and while a seasoned pitching rotation skewers the roster’s average age, the lineup is chock full of young hitters who are years away from free agency.
The Cubs roster also includes 23 year olds Addison Russell and Albert Almora, as well as veteran Ben Zobrist, who’s signed through 2019. Wednesday’s 17-3 win over Pittsburgh was a team effort, with eight Chicago players knocking in at least one run.
“There are lot of good hitters here. A lot of young guys that have learned a lot and are putting good swings on baseballs,” Happ said, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN. “You can see that, especially on a night where we score 17 and get 20 hits. A lot of good at-bats.”
With the win, the Cubs moved to 72-60, good for a 3.5 game lead in the NL Central. That’s the worst record of any division leader in MLB, but as the defending World Series champions, they have proven that they’re more than capable of making a run in October.
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