By: Jefferson Marshall
With players already reporting for camp, as far as baseball fans are concerned Spring is in the air. It’s a time where the beginning of a new baseball season is just around the corner and that also means a new champion will be crowned.
Last year, the Kansas City Royals took it all by defeating the National League’s New York Mets in 5 games.
This year’s winner?
The Chicago Cubs.
Why would the team that hasn’t won a World Series in 108 years be the favorite to win the 2016 World Series you ask?
Firstly, they were not too far from making it to the World Series last season as they lost to the Mets in the NLCS. Now, Vegas insists they have the best odds out of any club in the MLB with a 4-1 chance. One of the reasons why the Cubs will take the biggest prize in baseball in 2016, is because their batting line-up is filled with young phenomes that will only get better.
With being one of worst teams in the league for the most part of a century comes being able to have high picks in the draft and that’s how the Cubs acquired most of their youthful position players. According to MLB’s official Top 100 Prospects rankings, the Cubs have five players listed, which is one of the highest number of players for one team. However, for the young players that are actually of the major league team, they have been one of the reasons why this team have been successful. For example, in his first year in the league 24-year-old Kris Bryant finished with 26 homeruns and 99 RBI which was fifth highest in the National League and helped him win NL’s 2016 Rookie of the Year. On a team that’s average age is 28.3 it’s not surprising that 26-year-old Anthony Rizzo is considered to be a veteran with his five years of major league experience. Nonetheless, Rizzo is young and has surely been an offensive catalyst for this Cubs squad. He led the team with 31 homeruns and 101 RBIs which was third best in the N.L. As a team, the Cubs ranked fifth best in the N.L for on base percentage and homeruns, and sixth for RBIs, which is a major reason why this team made it all the way to the NLCS.
Not only can this team hit, but their strongest asset is their pitching. Headed into the season, with the additions of ace Jon Lester and the returning Jason Hammel, many didn’t think much of the team despite the upgrades. Yes, there have been many teams in the past that have gone out and added many quality players to transform their team in one off-season but see no results, and that’s why no faith was put into this a team. For example, the 2013 Blue Jays were suppose to win it all with the additions of Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle, and others. However, even though offence was the Jays’ strong suit; their starting pitching never showed up for them, and any baseball fan will tell you good pitching will most likely beat a good offence.
But unlike other teams, the Cubs focus was adding quality pitchers and it payed off. The Cubs went from one of the worst teams in the league to genuine World Series contenders. The Cubs dominated the league as they were the team with the lowest opponent ERA in the majors.
Not only that, but the team is led by three time and most recent Manager of the Year recipient Joe Maddon. The roster has seen even more improvements as more young and talented players have arrived to the team like, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist. To say this team is ready for the World Series is an understatement and it looks like the longest Championship drought in sports history is going to end in 2016.