Scouting report: Chicago Cubs

This is the best team in the National League, and a big favorite to reach the World Series … even if they are the Cubs.


The Cubs have by far the best lineup among any NL playoff team, and the one that would fit in the best in the American League, which bodes well for them should they reach the World Series. They led the NL in OBP, walks, doubles, slugging and -- shockingly -- runs scored this year, while finishing fifth in home runs. If they let lefty-killer Reed Johnson platoon with Kosuke Fukudome, they have no significant holes against either left- or right-handed pitching. It's a lineup that should chew up some No. 3 and No. 4 starters, giving the Cubs a huge advantage in any length of series.

Rookie catcher Geovany Soto has a max-effort swing and never gets all the way on his front foot, but is strong enough to pull balls on the outer half to left field. Alfonso Soriano remains something of a hacker and can get in a little trouble with pitchers who really change speeds on him, but his plate coverage remains outstanding and his bat speed allows him to use the whole field even when he doesn't recognize the pitch until late. Even Jim Edmonds, whose bat speed has slowed from his prime years, can wreck an average fastball and stay with a good slider that breaks away from him.