The Chicago Cubs’ Historic Journey to the World Series
- Updated: November 16, 2016
The number that continuously haunted the Cubs was 108. 108 years, 39,420 days, or nearly a million hours represents the last time the Cubs were victorious in a World Series. The team compiled record highs that would only be reached a couple of times in the past century. The team won over 100 games for the first time since 1935 and their overall win amount was the best for the franchise since 1910. They finished their 2016 campaign as the best team in baseball from a record standpoint. While the statistics remain phenomenal and a true talking point for the squad in 2016, there were a few key factors that propelled the team to the lengths of achievements they accomplished.
The team’s season-long campaign was nothing short of spectacular. At the end of each month, the team led the entire league as the best team in all of baseball. Early in the season, the squad got a scare that seemed like an omen for bad things to come. Outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler would collide in the outfield grass at Wrigley, ultimately ending Schwarber’s season. This highly touted prospect would mark for a key loss for the team as his position versatility was slotted to make him a key contributor for the team in 2016. The team would not miss a beat and would lean on other season-long standouts in Willie Contreras and Albert Almora. These young talents would help ease the blow to one of the team’s key contributors of 2015 in Schwarber.
Despite this early season loss, the team would remain relatively healthy spanning the season. Having players without health concerns led for these talents to dominate in all facets of the game. The pitching staff was the best the team has seen in quite some time. Throughout the season, the staff would lead the league in lowest runs allowed per game, lowest earned run average, lowest number of home runs allowed and other such statistical categories. They rounded out the season with three potential CY Young candidates in Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lester. The team’s relief staff also provided additional support to the starter’s stat lines. Adding key components like Aroldis Chapman (via trade) and key call-ups in Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery; the team would feature the highest averages the franchise has ever seen from a pitching standpoint.
Offensive support was never an issue for the team. Spending most of the season on top of the runs produced per game averages, the bats always came alive on both the road and at home. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant added large contributions to these averages as both spent most of the season near the top of the individual leaderboard for both runs batted in (RBIs) and homeruns. Good offense also needs good defense to help this ship fully set sail. Once again, the Cubs were never lacking. Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward would go on to win Gold Glove awards at their respective positions and would feature some very high defensive efficiency averages.
The stars were truly aligned once the team reached the post-season. The team was able to conquer two National league powerhouses in the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. Although both of these series carried some instances of concern, the team never wavered in their abilities to play the game like they had in the regular season.
A World Series match-up against a beat-up Cleveland Indians pitching staff was a true God send for the team. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazer were both suffering from injuries in the series and Carrasco would not play. This was a key component for the Cubs to mark victory in the series. The Indians would start hot out of the gate and quickly be ahead 3 games to 1. This lead carried a stigmata and energy with it, much like the one we noticed with Boston’s great comeback. Comebacks are possible when defeat stares a team in the eyes. The Red Sox faced an also imminent defeat, yet they leaned on the playing styles and game play that got them there in the first place. Nothing is impossible and the Cubs kept that mindset throughout the series. The Cubs would do what they did all season to counter this attack: lean on the play that got them there. Pitching would go on to dominate throughout the next three games throughout each of the 9 innings. Bats would come alive like they had all season long and a 17-minute rain delay in game 7 would provide the team with the boost they needed to treat this contest as a brand-new game. The team would score two runs in the top half of the 10th inning and ultimately defeat the Indians and bask in World Series glory.
This series was a historic one in that the Cubs came back from a 3-1 game deficit and outlasted the opponent in extra innings play. It wouldn’t be a true victory without some incredible occurrences. How about Miguel Montero’s pinch-hit grand slam? Or the occurrence in which the Cubs’ stole home? All of these occurrences can be looked back on with a big smile now as the curses have been lifted and the future has been set. The Cubs have won their first World Series in 108 years and the feeling of joy and excitement remains steady across all sports fans.
Shabbir Nooruddin writes about baseball gloves and playing tips at Bullpen Aces. Shabbir runs Bullpen Aces, where you can find baseball glove reviews and playing tips. If you get a chance, check out his guide to hitting drills.