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Kris Bryant's Recent Offensive Outburst Makes the Cubs the Team to Beat in the NL Central

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 17:  Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 17, 2019 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals | Greg Fiume

The NL Central is an absolutely stacked division this year. Four teams are over .500 with just 4.5 games separating them.

But only one team in the division has yet to lose 20 games, and that's the Chicago Cubs.

The recent offensive outburst from Kris Bryant has been a major factor in the team's success, and that's the exact reason why the Cubs have emerged as the team to beat in one of baseball's toughest divisions.

Chicago's franchise star is in the midst of a career year. His .986 OPS is the second-highest mark on the team, and his 161 wRC+ is tops among all qualified third basemen.

And when Bryant's at his best, so are the Cubs. The last season he managed a wRC+ of 148 or higher was 2016, the year he won NL MVP and the Cubs won 103 games and the World Series.

His flaming hot bat adds an extra layer of depth to a lineup that already features the likes of Willson Contreras, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. Navigating through that lineup when he's playing well is a pitcher's nightmare.

It's almost not fair. The return of Bryant's MVP form gives the Cubs an absolute super team, and the Cardinals and Brewers may find themselves looking up at Chicago on the standings all season long, especially if the Cubs find some bullpen depth.

As long as Bryant's hot, toppling the Cubs from the top spot may very well be impossible.