The Chicago Cubs have finished their regular season with 103 wins, the most among any MLB team this year. They have won the NL Central and have secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Cubs had an extremely successful 2016 campaign, but it all comes down to what they do in the next month. They are the favorites to win the World Series heading into the postseason. So let’s see how they got to where they are, by looking at the Chicago Cubs 2016 Season.
The Chicago Cubs 2016 Season
The Starting Rotation
The Cubs starting rotation has been arguably the best five-man punch in the league. They have three pitchers that could and should receive votes for the Cy Young award. Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jake Arrieta have been the three-headed monster that opposing lineups feared most of the year.
The three pitchers combined for 93 starts this year. Their combined record was 53-21. Both Arrieta and Hendricks had 8 losses each, while Lester lost just five of his starts. Hendricks led the league in ERA at 2.13. Lester was right behind him, finishing second with a 2.44 ERA. Finally, Arrieta finished 13th with a 3.10. They were top 12 in WHIP and top six in batting average against, which Arrieta led all pitchers with a .194 BAA. It’s safe to say their first three pitchers out of the gate are going to be tough to hit in the postseason if they continue their dominance.
The Big Bats
The Cubs also succeeded at the plate for most of the year. Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward were added in the offseason to get a veteran presence and add to the defensive side of the ball. The emergence of their young talent also played a huge role. Kris Bryant continued his dominance after a Rookie of the Year award in 2015. Addison Russell and Javier Baez took huge steps this year as well. Addison finished the year among the top 35 players in RBIs. Baez solidified his role as a utility player that can fill any spot needed. He could easily have put his name in the hat for a Gold Glove if he played a single position.
Bryant has put together an MVP type season, and is probably the front runner for the award. He hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs. Anthony Rizzo, the other slugger on this young club, hit .292 with 32 home runs and 109 RBIs. Rizzo was quietly one of the top hitters in the league as well.
Due to several injuries and struggling players throughout the season, several of the teams young prospects got to see important big league playing time. Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras were the two main position players. Almora filled in for an injured Dexter Fowler. He showed why scouts praised his glove, with several highlight reel catches. Contreras was called up to get some games in at catcher. There were a couple injuries to both David Ross and Miguel Montero, plus a a long rough patch for Miggy that cause the need for Contreras.
Rob Zastryzny, a top pitching prospect in the system, was also called up to chew some innings. He really impressed, putting up good numbers for a rookie. He could see some playoff innings, but if not, will be a name that helps the Cubs in the future.
With such a successful season, the Cubs have had some moments that shouldn’t be forgotten, whether good or bad. Less than a week into the season Kyle Schwarber, another rising star in the game, had a collision in the outfield that ended his season. The Cubs rallied around the injury and pushed through.
Baez would give the mothers that bleed Cubbie blue a Mother’s Day to remember. In the bottom of the 13th inning against now postseason rivals the Washington Nationals, Baez would hit a walk-off solo shot on Mother’s Day to end the game. That would finish a sweep of the NL East champs.
On April 21st, Arrieta would throw his second no-hitter of his career. Arrieta would no hit the Cincinnati Reds towards the beginning of the year. This made fans around baseball think that Arrieta was going to put together another historic year on the mound.
The final, and possibly the best moment, comes in the final home game of the season. Veteran David Ross would play his final regular season game at Wrigley Field against the St. Louis Cardinals. During his first at-bat, the crowd at Wrigley gave Ross an enormous standing ovation. Even fellow catcher Yadier Molina felt the importance of the moment and stopped the game to let the fans applaud. That wouldn’t be it, however. Ross would hit a home run in the game to give the Cubs the lead late. Ross got the farewell he deserved, and gave the Chicago fans one they will never forget.
The Cubs begin their postseason journey on Friday against the winner of the NL Wild Card game. The Cubs are now 0-0, and must start from scratch. With that said, this season was one to remember, and the hope is they continue the party into the postseason. They are looking at something much bigger than a trophy. They are looking to make history on the Northside.