The Chicago Cubs are the 2016 World Series Champions. They spent years rebuilding and putting together bad seasons, all for these moments. It finally happened.
Chicago Cubs 2016 Season Recap
They got past the even-year magic of the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS. They beat arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball to advance through the NLCS. Finally, they fought back from a 3-1 game deficit to force a Game 7, and after the most important rain delay in the history of baseball, they beat the Cleveland Indians in extra innings to take home the trophy.
The Cubs outplayed their projections, as they finished with 103 wins on the year. It was a tough road; they battled through injuries to key players like Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler. They pushed all the headlines and criticism of 108 years aside and just did what they all love to do: play baseball.
Cubs Pitchers Dominate all Year
The Cubs had two players up for the NL Cy Young award at the end of the year. Neither took home the hardware, but the fact that they had two CY Young-caliber pitchers tells the story of their rotation.
Kyle Hendricks, one of the candidates, had the best ERA in all of baseball at 2.13. He finished tied for tenth in wins (16), and second in WHIP behind the Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer. Hendricks came out of nowhere this year with his phenomenal stuff. Toward the end of the year, he was even being compared to one of the greats, Greg Maddux.
Jon Lester was the other pitcher up for the Cy Young for the Cubs. He dominated all year, and was their best option in the playoffs. Lester finished ninth among all pitchers with a 5.3 WAR. He had a 2.44 ERA (second), 19 wins (fourth), and a 1.016 WHIP (fifth).
Jake Arrieta, while he didn’t have a repeat of 2015, was still among the best as well. He finished with 18 wins and gave up the fewest hits per nine innings, at just 6.294. On April 21, in a game in Cincinnati, Arrieta recorded his second no-hitter in as many seasons.
Cubs Have Multiple MVP Talents
Kris Bryant, unlike his teammates, did bring home an individual award this offseason. Bryant was awarded the NL MVP for the 2016 season, and with good reason. He is possibly the best 3rd baseman in baseball. With guys like Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson patrolling the same position, that’s no easy feat.
Bryant finished third in the league with a 7.7 WAR, the best in the NL. He finished seventh in slugging, fourth in runs scored, and ninth in total bases. Bryant was also a key factor in the playoffs. He drove in eight runs and hit .307. He also got the final assist to cap off an amazing 2016 season, as he threw the ball to fellow All-Star Anthony Rizzo for the final out.
Rizzo is another MVP-caliber player on this young squad. He finished fourth in the voting, and took home both a Silver Slugger award and a Gold Glove award. Rizzo missed just seven games all year for the Cubs. He belted 32 home runs and drove in 109 runs, all while hitting for a .292 batting average. Rizzo has the raw power and ability to hit for average, all while playing excellent defense. He may win MVP sooner rather than later.
Chicago’s Role Players
The Cubs also have a handful of excellent role players on this team. Ben Zobrist, an offseason acquisition, was the World Series MVP, as he had one of the most important hits of the season. Javier Baez emerged as a playoff hero, and showed why he’s being talked about as one of the best defensive players in the game. Jason Heyward had a down year offensively, but still helped out playing the field. This team is built for the long haul and it wouldn’t be a shock if they were the favorites heading into next season. Expect a lot of great things from this young, star-studded team in the near future.