Which defense will reap big rewards?

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After last week’s review of the best and worst projected defenders for 2017, let’s now look at teams projected to make the biggest improvements from last season.

The Chicago Cubs are an American professional baseball team based in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division, where they are the defending World Series champions. The team plays its home games at Wrigley Field, located on the city’s North Side. The Cubs are one of two major league teams in Chicago; the other, the Chicago White Sox, is a member of the American League (AL) Central division. The team, first known as the White Stockings, was a founding member of the NL in 1876, becoming the Chicago Cubs in 1903.

The Cubs have appeared in a total of eleven World Series. The 1906 Cubs won 116 games, finishing 116–36 and posting a modern-era record winning percentage of .763, before losing the World Series to the Chicago White Sox (The Hitless Wonders) by 4-2. The Cubs won back-to-back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, becoming the first major league team to play in three consecutive World Series, and the first to win it twice.

Most recently, the Cubs won the 2016 National League Championship Series and 2016 World Series.

It ended a 71-year National League pennant drought and a 108-year World Series championship drought, both of which are record droughts in Major League Baseball.

The 108-year drought was also the longest such occurrence in all major North American sports. Since the start of divisional play in 1969, the Cubs have appeared in the postseason eight times.

The Cubs are known as the North Siders, a reference to the location of Wrigley Field within the city of Chicago, and in contrast to the White Sox, whose home field (Guaranteed Rate Field) is located on the South Side. The Cubs have multiple rivalries. There is a divisional rivalry with the St. Louis Cardinals and also a newer rivalry with the Milwaukee Brewers.

After over a dozen more subpar seasons, in 1981 the Cubs hired GM Dallas Green from Philadelphia to turn around the franchise.

Green had managed the 1980 Phillies to the World Series title. One of his early GM moves brought in a young Phillies minor-league 3rd baseman named Ryne Sandberg, along with Larry Bowa for Iván DeJesús. The 1983 Cubs had finished 71–91 under Lee Elia, who was fired before the season ended by Green. Green continued the culture of change and overhauled the Cubs roster, front-office and coaching staff prior to 1984. Jim Frey was hired to manage the 1984 Cubs, with Don Zimmer coaching 3rd base and Billy Connors serving as pitching coach.

Scott Sanderson

Green shored up the 1984 roster with a series of transactions. In December, 1983 Scott Sanderson was acquired from Montreal in a three-team deal with San Diego for Carmelo Martínez. Pinch hitter Richie Hebner (.333 BA in 1984) was signed as a free-agent. In spring training, moves continued: LF Gary Matthews and CF Bobby Dernier came from Philadelphia on March 26, for Bill Campbell and a minor leaguer. Reliever Tim Stoddard (10–6 3.82, 7 saves) was acquired the same day for a minor leaguer; veteran pitcher Ferguson Jenkins was released.

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