Cubs infield ranked best in baseball, according to ESPN
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Anthony Rizzo was top five in NL MVP voting in 2015, and Kris Bryant claimed Rookie of the Year honors. Addison Russell established himself as top-tier defensive player with a promising bat, while newcomer and two-time All-Star Ben Zobrist brings World Series experience and a veteran presence. When you put all of them together in one infield, it’s easy to see why the Cubs are getting so much attention.
Buster Olney and members of the ESPN staff released their top 10 MLB infields on Wednesday, and it should come as no surprise the Cubs were ranked No. 1. With a combination of youth, athleticism, leadership and an overall high level of must-see playmaking abilities, it’s hard to argue that lofty ranking. Here’s some of what they had to say:
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo finished 10th in the National League MVP voting in 2014, and fourth last year. Third baseman Kris Bryant was the NL Rookie of the Year, after reaching base 230 times in his first 151 big league games. Addison Russell and the Cubs thrived after he took over at shortstop and established a more consistent defensive presence at the most important infield position.
And during the winter, the Cubs added the cherry on top of what appears to be the best and most well-rounded infield in the majors, signing Ben Zobrist to play second base.
Rizzo and Bryant ranked in the top 11 in WAR, home runs, RBI and on-base percentage in the National League last year. Between both middle-infield positions, Russell’s 19 defensive runs saved was sixth in the NL. Zobrist is fresh off a World Series win with with the Royals and had another solid 2015 at the plate, posting a .359 on-base percentage to go along with a top 20 walk rate and a top 10 strikeout rate among all MLB hitters who qualified.