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Chicago Cubs: Reviewing the year of the World Series champions

Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs players celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs players celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /
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It was an eventful year for those who represent that team on the North Side of Chicago. Despite being down in the postseason, the Chicago Cubs refused to give up thus winning the World Series.

Here we are, the final day of 2016. And all we’re thinking about right now is when the Chicago Cubs take the field in Mesa, Arizona. Preparing for another potential championship run with some young, yet veteran faces.

What the Cubs did this year will never be forgotten. Starting out the year red-hot, another no-hitter from Jake Arrieta, a frustrating filled July didn’t stop this club. At one point, Chicago had a decent lead in the Central.

That was, until, as mentioned, June and July came around. This club who swept and dominated team after team found themselves in a slump.

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However, their “We Never Quit” mentality remained intact as they fought their way back. Admittingly, losing Kyle Schwarber at the beginning of the year put fear into some Cubs fans across the country.

They reached the NLCS in 2015 but lost their heavy hitter straight out of the gate. Was this how the season was going down? Not exactly.

Never Give Up

Being able to sit back and watch this Cubs team battle it out with the rest of the league, proving they belong, was a special feeling. Knowing that this club is stacked with young talent throughout the lineup provided comfort.

But winning the division wasn’t their only goal. It all came down to the postseason with 103 wins in their back pocket. Imagine how much more they would have won if Schwarber was healthy.

Either way, it felt like nothing was going to stop the Cubs. At the end of the year, they had a couple of MVP candidates in Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Two men who combined for 71 home runs and 211 runs batted in.

Mound Heroes

On the mound, you had Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks turning in Cy Young seasons. Lester, the 32-year-old southpaw, tossed his name in the hat with a stat line of 19-5, 2.44 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 197/52 K/BB ratio.

Meanwhile, Joe Maddon‘s young buck, Hendricks, emerged as a promising lock for the award. In his second full year with the Cubs, the 27-year-old right-hander frustrated opposing managers and hitters.

His earned run average of 2.13 just so happened to be the best in the entire league with Clayton Kershaw missing a chunk of the season. Yet, Hendricks continued to do his thing, posting career highs in multiple categories.

For example, 16-8 record, 190 innings, 142 hits, 45 earned runs, 15 homers, 0.98 WHIP, .207 opposing average, and 170/44 K/BB ratio were all positive marks. Granted he has only been in the league for two full years now. There is still time for him to improve on the mound which is scary for the rest of the league.

With the help of Dexter Fowler‘s bat in the lead-off spot, Jason Heyward‘s fantastic glove work, Addison Russell‘s jaw-dropping stats of his own, overall production seemed fairly balance. Not to mention, the run differential was through the roof.

Acquiring Heat

What really put the Cubs over the top is when they acquired Aroldis Chapman. Chapman, as we all know, had some problems away from the field which carried over into his professional life. As expected.

When the Cubs pulled the trigger on a deal that involved two top prospects, Maddon was handed the closer he was looking for. Clocking in at over 100 miles per hour, Chapman chewed up multiple innings and recorded a handful of saves along the way.

Without a doubt, the Chapman trade paid off in the end despite giving up a game-tying homer to Rajai Davis. You have to respect what he did for Chicago.

Finally

And then you have the postseason. Infielder Javier Baez was one of many heroes in the early rounds, earning himself co-LCS MVP honors alongside Lester. His ability to make quick tags came in handy.

Speaking of his quick tags, David Ross was huge as well. Hitting his 100th career homer at Wrigley earlier on in the year was another special moment for Grandpa Rossy. In addition, he swatted two postseason homers — one against the Giants and his final being against the Indians in Game 7.

Of course, there is Schwarber returning just in time for the World Series and Ben Zobrist doing his thing, yet again. He was a double machine for the Royals during their championship run where he recorded eight.

This year was no different. The would-be World Series MVP pulled through with five doubles, including the go-ahead run in extras following a rain delay. Just a few minutes following Zobrist’s double, the Cubs were only three outs away.

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Putting Carl Edwards Jr. out on the mound felt great although Cleveland cut into their two-run lead, applying the pressure yet again. Cleveland’s hopes remained alive until Mike Montgomery came in and got Michael Martinez to slap a pitch into the dirt.

Eventually, it was Bryant who fielded the ball and made the throw over to Rizzo for the final out, putting the world’s attention on one team. A team who has been counted out many times as fans were shamed for showing love and support throughout their lives.

Hearing the words, “The Cubs win the World Series! Bryant makes the play! It’s over! And the Cubs have finally won it all!” officially made 2016 the year of the Chicago Cubs.

Thank you all for joining us on this amazing ride. From everyone here at Cubbies Crib, we’d like to wish you all a Happy and safe New Year.

#FlyTheW

Video courtesy of MLB.com‘s YouTube Channel.

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