As I watched the formerly futile Chicago Cubs boomerang back from the abyss and capture their first World Series in more than century, I marveled at not only their talent, but their youth. Infielders Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant; outfielders, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber; and catcher Willson Contreras are all under the age of 25. Greybearded first baseman Anthony Rizzo is 27. Moreover, within the next few years, the Cubs will have to make room near the ivy-covered walls for Eloy Jimenez, a 19-year-old, 6-foot-4-inch, 190-pound outfielder recently named the Midwest League Player of the Year. Other than Kyle Hendricks, the National League ERA leader, the starting pitching may have to be youthanized (pun intended). But, the relief corps is relatively young, and perhaps the Cubs can make Aroldis Chapman an offer he can’t refuse. Free agent center fielder Dexter Fowler is probably headed for greener pastures.
St. Louis, conversely, has a bevy of exciting young middle infielders, Allen Cordoba and Eliezer Alvarez; outfielders Magneuris Sierra, Nick Plummer; starting pitchers Junior Fernandez, Sandy Alcantara; and reliever Rowan Wick. However, these organization gems are a few years away. Catcher Carson Kelly, power-hitting third baseman Paul DeJong, first baseman Luke Voit, and outfielder Harrison Bader should arrive earlier. Nevertheless, the once “lovable loser” Cubs are for now the class of the National League Central.
Steve Frazier, Fairview Heights
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