After almost seven months it’s finally come down to this. Major League Baseball’s champion will be crowned in a best-of-seven series within the next week & a half. This is a pretty special Fall Classic, as one of the two longest-running title droughts in baseball will come to an end.
The Chicago Cubs. Champions of the NL Central and the National League. Their 103 wins were unmatched in baseball this season. The Cubs franchise hasn’t won the World Series since 1908, and I think most people would agree that this is the best team Chicago’s North Side has seen since 1908. Hitting, pitching, they’ve got it all. They ended the Giants’ even-year magic in the NLDS & overcame the great Clayton Kershaw to win the NLCS. Will they finally make us forget about the billy goat & Steve Bartman, and make Harry Caray yell Holy Cow from the grave?
The Cleveland Indians. Champions of the AL Central and the American League. The city of Cleveland broke its titleless streak earlier this year, but the Indians are still looking for their first world championship since 1948. The Tribe swept the Boston Red Sox out of the ALDS in three games & said goodbye to the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS after five. Their hitting has been MIA, but their pitching has been legendary. Can they shock the world & overcome the odds again?
Let’s look at the Tale of the Tape!
Chicago: Wilson Contreras (8/20, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .400 in postseason)
Cleveland: Roberto Perez (4/23, 1 HR, 2 RBI, .174 in postseason)
The Cubs have a three-headed monster at this position with David Ross & Miguel Montero in addition to Contreras, but you’ll see Wilson’s bat somewhere in the lineup more often than not I’d think. Ross & Montero are capable enough with the bat as well, and Perez is a really decent defensive catcher that barely hit better in the regular season than he has so far in October. Advantage Cubs.
Chicago: Anthony Rizzo (9/40, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .225 in postseason)
Cleveland: Mike Napoli (5/28, 1 HR, 2 RBI, .179 in postseason)
Rizzo got off to a tough start with one hit in the first six games of the postseason, but has gone 8/17 since, with those two home runs & 5 RBI in the last three games. He’s getting hot at the right time. Napoli has good postseason experience & a strong veteran presence, but he’s not an MVP candidate. Advantage Cubs.
Chicago: Javier Baez (13/38, 1 HR, 4 2B, 7 RBI, .342 in postseason)
Cleveland: Jason Kipnis (5/30, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .167 in postseason)
Ordinarily you’d take Kipnis here and not think about it too much, but Baez has been on a tear in the postseason and forced his way into the everyday lineup. He shared the NLCS MVP award with Jon Lester. Kipnis has kind of quiet with the bat lately, but so have the rest of the Indians, and he’s at least got a couple of home runs to put his team over the top in some games. He’s had a down year overall though. His batting average is down nearly 30 points from last year, his fielding numbers are slightly down, and he’s grounded into 21 double plays this season. The Cubs love creating double plays. Advantage Cubs.
Chicago: Kris Bryant (13/39, 1 HR, 5 2B, 6 RBI, .333 in postseason)
Cleveland: Jose Ramirez (6/27, 1 RBI, 4 R, .222 in postseason)
I like Ramirez a lot for fantasy purposes because he was eligible for 2B, 3B, SS & OF. Gotta love guys like that. But Kris Bryant might be the best player in the game period, with all due respect to Michael Trout. Advantage Cubs.
Chicago: Addison Russell (7/37, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .189 in postseason)
Cleveland: Francisco Lindor (10/31, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .323 in postseason)
One guy is hitting for Cleveland right now, and coincidentally he’s their best player anyway. Both Lindor & Russell should be among the best in the league at this position for years to come, but Lindor’s a hair better at the plate & with the glove right now. Advantage Indians.
Chicago: Ben Zobrist (6/36, 3 2B, 3 RBI, .167 in postseason)
Cleveland: Coco Crisp/Rajai Davis (Crisp 3/14, 2 HR, .214, Davis 0/12 in postseason)
Nobody at this position has been terribly productive in the playoffs except for Crisp in a couple of huge spots. Can he do it again? Why not, stranger things have happened. Zobrist is a more reliable option this season, though he’s never been great in the postseason and continues to struggle here. If Davis could get on base he could be dangerous. Advantage Cubs.
Chicago: Dexter Fowler (11/42, 1 HR, 4 2B, 8 R, 4 RBI, .262 in postseason)
Cleveland: Tyler Naquin (3/16, 2 2B, 2 RBI, .188 in postseason)
Fowler is one of the more underrated guys on the Cubs. The Cubs’ biggest slump of the season happened when he was on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury. The lineup is at its best when he’s in the leadoff spot getting on base & working pitchers, making things easier for Bryant, Rizzo & everybody else. Naquin is part of a platoon with Davis & we might not see him too much. Advantage Cubs.
Chicago: Jason Heyward (2/28, 1 3B, 1 RBI, .071 in postseason)
Cleveland: Lonnie Chisenhall (7/26, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .269 in postseason)
Heyward is outstanding with the glove. Is it enough to make up for his inadequacies at the plate? With the Cubs, usually. Chisenhall is a good solid player but he only has one home run all season against left handed pitchers, which he’ll see a lot of in this series. I think we’ll see more of Chisenhall than Heyward though, who might miss more time so Jorge Soler can get in the lineup. Advantage Indians.
Cleveland: Carlos Santana (5/29, 2 HR, 2 RBI, .172 in postseason)
As a National League loyalist I refuse to discuss the designated hitter. That being said, the Cubs have a pretty deep bench. Kyle Schwarber’s even being talked about as an option, which seems like a longshot to me, but you never know.
Chicago: Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey
Cleveland: Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer, Ryan Merritt/Danny Salazar
The Indians made it this far thanks to their pitching, but there’s too many question marks in that rotation right now for me to trust it. Bauer’s chopping up his hand with a drone for unknown reasons, Merritt had a really good start but he’s unproven, Salazar’s coming off injury…I dunno man. I do know that the Cubs’ rotation has been lights-out all season and has remained so in the postseason. Advantage Cubs.
Chicago: Aroldis Chapman, Carl Edwards, Mike Montgomery
Cleveland: Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw
Both teams gave up a ton of prospects for New York Yankee relievers. It worked out pretty well for them. Chapman has been lights-out in the closing role, and the Tribe just sticks Andrew Miller wherever they really need to get people out and it’s worked out perfectly. The Cubs don’t have a deep bullpen without Chapman though, and everybody in the Cleveland pen is getting people out constantly. Advantage Indians.
Chicago: Joe Maddon (981-852 regular season, 24-25 postseason, 1 AL title, 1 NL title)
Cleveland: Terry Francona (1381-1209 regular season, 35-19 postseason, 3 AL titles, 2 World Series titles)
Two of the best managers in the game right here. Joe Maddon has made the World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays & the Chicago Cubs. Think about that for a minute. Terry Francona has made the World Series with the Boston Red Sox & the Cleveland Indians. These are traditionally losing franchises that turned into title contenders with these men at the helm. They didn’t sign the talent, but they nurtured the great talent collected by these teams & led them to their optimal performances. I give the slight edge to Francona because he’s won titles before and is almost untouchable in the postseason. Advantage Indians.
Famous Wrestler as Fan:
Chicago: CM Punk
Cleveland: Jerry “The King” Lawler
I can see the newbie crowd getting all mad that I went with Lawler over The Miz, but those peeps don’t know nothin bout nothin. The King’s been an Indians fan since living in Cleveland for several years of his childhood. He also beats Punk in this category because I’d much rather pop in a DVD of Lawler matches & promos than Punk matches & promos. Lawler has a wider variety of opponents and promo material, and Punk’s just a depressing dude to listen to for too long. Advantage Indians.
Movie Featuring Team:
Chicago: Rookie of the Year
Cleveland: Major League
I mean, is this even a question? I remember literally nothing about Rookie of the Year other than the scene where the kid throws the ball from the outfield to home plate. Major League has an unending number of classic moments. Indians fans still go to ballparks wearing jerseys with “VAUGHN 99” on the back. I never see any Cubs fans representing for Henry Rowengartner. Now, if you want to compare ROTY to the Major League sequels, then you’ve got a contest. Advantage Indians.
Come back tomorrow when our own Jeremy Lambert will delve into these classic films even further!
Final Score: Cubs 7, Indians 6
The Chicago Cubs seem to have the better lineup on paper. They’ve had the best lineup on paper all season. I’ve been calling them the best team in baseball since April. But as we all know, the best team on paper doesn’t always win. There’s something going on with this Cleveland squad. When you can bat .168 as a team in the ALCS & still win the series in five games, maybe the numbers are lying just a little bit. So even if the Cubs are ahead on paper and we always say THE NUMBERS NEVER LIE…I’m wondering if they are this time. MLB numbers favor the Cubs. Our numbers favor the Cubs. Does that benefit the Indians?
Enjoy the World Series!