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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First Base

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) –  Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) –  Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Both Chicago and Cleveland feature classic power hitting first basemen in Anthony Rizzo and Mike Napoli, who anchor the middle of their teams’ lineups, were among the best run producers in the game in 2016, and serve as leaders for their teammates.

Napoli seems to live in the playoffs, with this his eighth trip in an 11-year career. The 34-year old had a dream season for the Indians putting up personal bests with 34 home runs and 101 RBIs, while also becoming a rallying cry for the fanbase with his popular “Party at Napoli’s” t-shirts.

But he has struggled mightily at the plate throughout most of the postseason, with a 5-for-28 performance good for a .179/.233/.393 slash line. Napoli did begin to show signs of life near the end of the ALCS, though, collecting two doubles, a homer, and two RBIs in the final three games against the Blue Jays. That power and production are vital to the Tribe’s offensive gameplan.

Similarly, Rizzo has been ice cold throughout most of the playoffs but broke out in a big way in his last three games. After starting out the postseason 2-for-26, the 27-year old trashed the Dodgers with a 7-for-14 outburst in Games Four through Six, with two doubles, two home runs, and five driven in.

Given how successful the top of the Cubs order has been in getting on base in October, Rizzo breaking out of his slump is crucial to the club’s chances of winning a championship. During the regular season, he posted a .292/.385/.544 slash line with 43 doubles, 32 homers, 109 RBIs, and an OPS+ of 146, as the north siders ran roughshod over baseball.

Chicago is a different offensive team when Rizzo is in a groove and a scary one at that. The same can be said for Cleveland and Napoli. If both players can continue to leave their struggles from earlier in the postseason in the past, we could see balls leaving the yard and runs being scored in bunches throughout the series.

Advantage: Chicago

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