The 2012 Chicago Cubs are coming to a town near you anytime between April and September. You will not be able to see them play in October because they will not make the playoffs unless the rest of the National League Central plays well under their potential and the Cubs play over their’s. When you welcome the Cubs into your town to play against your favorite team don’t expect to see a lot of long balls from the visitors. They will hit their share but this team lacks a consistent power threat. There is nothing wrong with a team that doesn’t hit a lot of home runs but in a town where bleacher bums wait for that 3-run homer on every pitch it will be something that will take some time to get used to.
There are three guys on the team that can hit for power but I would call their power far from consistent. The first is Alfonso Soriano who will hit around 25 home runs which I believe will lead the team. Soriano is an aging player who is becoming even streakier as his career winds down. The next is Geovany Soto who is due for that 20 plus homer season that he had in his rookie year. Well folks, this year could be that year but don’t hold your breath for it. Soto needs to get healthy and stay healthy and return to that form that won him Rookie of the Year. Finally we have everyone’s favorite, Bryan LaHair. I do not expect anything more than 20 home runs for this minor league stud. With this group we have about 65 homers total. Not a bad number for a core group but each player could hit five more or five less because past production does not guarantee future success.
The rest of the Cubs projected lineup is not entirely devoid of power. You have four more guys who could hit doubt digit home runs with Starlin Castro hitting the most of that group that contains Marlon Byrd, Ian Stewart and David DeJesus. Which leaves solely Darwin Barney who might not hit one ball out of the ballpark and depending on the playing time for Jeff Baker and anyone else who is on the team could join him in that category. All in all I believe the Cubs will hit at least 25 home runs under their 148 hit in 2011. That would put them in the bottom 6th of teams if teams put up similar numbers in 2012.
What does this mean? It means that the Cubs will have to play with solid fundamentals which has been severely lacking for as long as I can remember. Dale Sveum has his job cut out for him and I look forward to the Cubs being a fundamentally sound team in the years to come.