In the four major sports, no team has gone longer without winning a title than the Chicago Cubs, who have not won a World Series in 108 years. Now the Cubs have a chance to end that drought, though their opponents, the Cleveland Indians, have a championship-less streak of their own: 71 years.
The Cubs were the No. 1 seed going into the playoffs and proved they deserved that ranking by winning 4–1 against the Giants and 4–2 against the Dodgers. But in order to do fly the “W” after the World Series, Chicago will need to keep the momentum. In advance of tonight’s opening game in Cleveland, let’s take a look at five reasons the Cubs will win the World Series.
1. Excellent Pitching: The Cubs have been led by the Co-MVP of the NLCS, All-Star Jon Lester, who has tossed 21 innings this postseason and has an ERA of only 0.86. The Cubs also had lights out pitching from Kyle Hendricks, who has an ERA of 1.65 in just over 16 innings. Carl Edwards Jr. and Travis Wood lead Chicago’s bullpen, with a combined ERA of 1.93. Also, closer Aroldis Chapman did his job with three saves and one win.
2. Great Hitting: During the 2015 playoffs, the Cubs were hitting long ball after long ball but couldn’t get any base hits — it was an out or a home run most of the time. This has changed in 2016, and Javier Baez led the way in the NLCS. Baez, who earned co-MVP of the series, had 13 hits, seven RBIs, one home run, and a batting average of .342. Rookie Willson Contreras was also impressive: He had eight hits, four RBIs, one home run, and a batting average of .400.
3. Unbelievable Fielding: The Cubs have played well defensively in the playoffs. First baseman Anthony Rizzo has 96 putouts with no errors; second baseman Javier Baez has 32 putouts with two errors; and catcher David Ross has 31 putouts and two pickoffs. Overall the Cubs have combined for only eight errors and 276 putouts.
4. Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein: Epstein, the president of the Cubs, got the team key players such as Ross, Lester, Chapman, John Lackey, Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, and Maddon, the Cubs manager. Maddon has been the manager of the Cubs for only two years, made it to the NLCS both seasons, and has won an NL pennant. Under Maddon, the Cubs have won 200 games (including playoffs) over two seasons.
5. The Fans: The people in the stands have been a big part of the Cubs’ playoff success. The fans have been so loud and have cheered on the Cubs until they can’t talk anymore. If you were to go into Chicago after a Cubs home win, you would see and hear a few things: the fans singing “Go Cubs Go,” people high-fiving everyone, a bunch of traffic, and a bunch of cars honking. The Cubs get support from three generations of people all hoping for one thing — for the Cubs to take October.
Photo credit (from top): Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images; Harry How/Getty Images