2016 World Series: A Position-by-Position Breakdown of the Indians and Cubs
The Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs boast a lot of talent around the diamond. How do these two teams match-up in the World Series?
The powers that be in Major League Baseball could not have written a better script for this year’s World Series. On the one hand, the Cleveland Indians and their 68-year championship drought, counted out all postseason because of a roster decimated by injuries, revolutionizing the way ballgames are won. And on the other, the Chicago Cubs, lovable losers for 108 years now and the much-heralded best team in baseball this year.
Cleveland is here after gutting out an American League Central Division title in a season in which it was without arguably its best hitter (Michael Brantley) for all but 11 games, sustained crippling injuries to its starting rotation (Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar) and had the worst offensive catching position unit in the game.
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Despite those obstacles, the Indians won 94 games in the regular season, claiming the AL’s second seed, and have torn through the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays with a 7-1 record in the postseason.
Chicago’s path was much different than the Tribe’s, as it has been the odds-on favorite to take a world championship since spring training. The Cubs won 103 games in 2016, the only team in MLB to eclipse the 100-win mark, and led the NL Central since early April.
Seven Chicago players were named to the NL All-Star team, including the entire starting infield, and at midseason, an eighth was added in one of the game’s premier closers, Aroldis Chapman. The Cubs have several players that will receive strong consideration for league MVP, Cy Young, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove awards.
That strong performance propelled Chicago to a league-leading +252 run differential this season, and a Pythagorean winning percentage that says the club underachieved. With the fifth-highest payroll in MLB, the Cubs proved to be worth every penny, knocking off the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs with seven wins in 10 games.
The series will pit two of the game’s finest managers against one another in Terry Francona and Joe Maddon and will have stars on display all over the field on both sides. It also features the two longest-suffering fanbases in baseball, with histories filled to the brim with heartbreak, mythical curses, and downright bad luck.
Let’s take a look at how the Tribe and Cubs match up.