2016 World Series: A Position-by-Position Breakdown of the Indians and Cubs

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Oct 17, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians first baseman Mike Napoli (right) hits a solo home run in front of Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (left) during the fourth inning in game three of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians first baseman Mike Napoli (right) hits a solo home run in front of Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (left) during the fourth inning in game three of the 2016 ALCS playoff baseball series at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Catchers

Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross (3) – Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross (3) – Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

As mentioned, the offense provided by Cleveland’s catching corps during the regular season was historically bad. Indians’ backstops were dead last in all of MLB in wins above average and combined to put up a .185/.244/.320 slash line and an OPS+ of just 60.

That production at the plate has, at first glance, carried over into the postseason. Roberto Perez has caught every playoff innings for the Tribe thus far, and his .174/.269/.348 slash line with a double, a home run, and two runs batted in doesn’t jump off the stat sheet at you. But anyone who has watched the games knows how integral Perez has been to the team’s October run.

He was the hero of Game One of the division series against Boston, impacting all three phases of the game. His defense, particularly his pitch framing, more than makes up for what he may lack with the bat.

Chicago uses a trio of catchers, with rookie Wilson Contreras sharing time with veterans David Ross and Miguel Montero. Cubs catchers were in the top half of MLB in wins above average with a collective slash line of .239/.339/.425 and an OPS+ of 118.

What those numbers fail to properly convey, though, has been the rapid development of Contreras, who didn’t make his major league debut until the middle of June. In 76 regular season games, the 24-year old slashed .282/.357/.488 with 14 doubles, 12 home runs, 35 RBIs, and a 125 OPS+.

In the playoffs, Contreras has caught fire at the plate, slashing .400/.429/.550 with a homer and four RBIs while appearing in all ten games. Ross and Montero are a combined 3-for-19 in that span, though both have gone deep at critical moments, including Montero’s decisive grand slam in Game One of the NLCS.

Cleveland and Chicago enter the World Series having ranked first and fourth, respectively, in postseason earned run average, and the catchers have an impact on that. While Perez has been as solid behind the plate as any backstop in the playoffs, the Cubs’ trio has shown more firepower at the plate, adding to an already potent lineup.

Advantage: Chicago

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