2016 Chicago Cubs
2016 Chicago Cubs / Franchise: Chicago Cubs / BR Team Page
World Series Champs
Managed by Joe Maddon
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2016 Chicago Cubs entered the season in a very unfamiliar position: as favorites to win the World Series. It was the result of their excellent 2015 season, which saw them post the third-highest win total in the majors and reach the National League Championship Series, their stable of young and very talented players, and a number of key acquisitions during the off-season. They started the year on a good note, winning five of their first six games, all on the road, before moving into a renovated Wrigley Field for their home opener on April 11th. There was one wrong note in that participation, however: one of the aforementioned heralded young players, C/OF Kyle Schwarber, was injured in an outfield collision with CF Dexter Fowler on April 7th, tearing two ligaments in his knee and ending his season after only two games.
The Cubs won their opener in spectacular fashion. They were kept hitless by Brandon Finnegan of the Cincinnati Reds until David Ross managed a two-out single in the 7th. That ended Finnegan's night, and he left with two runners on base but a 3-0 lead. The Cubs then feasted on the Reds' bullpen for that point on; Tony Cingrani loaded the bases before allowing a two-run single to off-season acquisition Jason Heyward, then in the 8th, SS Addison Russell connected for a three-run homer off Jumbo Diaz to give Chicago a 5-3, come-from-behind win. This started off a three-game sweep of the Reds after an 8-1 victory on April 14th. They were 8-1 at this point, their best start since the 1969 team started off by winning 11 of its first 12 games before collapsing in the final weeks of the season. On April 21st, they demolished the Reds, 16-0, with Jake Arrieta recording his second career no-hitter. Arrieta had started the year red hot after winning the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, as he was now 4-0, 0.87 after four starts, having allowed a mere 15 hits in 31 innings. On April 26th, they joined their crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox as the first two teams to reach 15 wins in the majors. They were 15-5 at that point, the best start by a Cubs team since the 1907 Cubs had got off to a 16-4 start on their way to winning the 1907 World Series. They continued to win over the next couple of weeks and on May 7th, after six straight wins, were at 23-6, the best start by a National League team since the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers had begun the season with a similar mark.
The Cubs went on another hot streak at the end of May and the beginning of June. A 6-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on June 6th was their 11th in 13 games and gave them a record of 40-16, still the best in the majors and 10 games ahead of the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central. They were off to their best start since 1900. They hit their first bump in the road on June 30-July 3rd, when they were swept by the New York Mets in a four-game series at Citi Field, in a flashback to the 2015 NLCS. The losing continued over the next while though, as they went down in five of their next six games, just before the All-Star break, finishing the first half at 53-35. they still had a commanding 7-game lead in the division, but had been passed by the San Francisco Giants for best record in the majors.
The Cubs featured prominently at the 2016 All-Star Game, played at Petco Park in San Diego, CA on July 12th, as all four members of their infield - 1B Anthony Rizzo, 2B Ben Zobrist, SS Russell and 3B Kris Bryant were voted to the starting line-up, in addition to CF Fowler. Two of their starting pitchers, Arrieta and Jon Lester, made the team as well. However, Fowler had to give up his spot because of an injury, his absence from the line-up coinciding with the Cubs' late first-half slump. Also of concern was Arrieta, who was back to pitching like a mere mortal after being dominant the first two months: in a stretch of seven starts, he went 3-4, 4.81. However, the Cubs started off the second half with wins in three of their first four games, then Arrieta made his best start since May on July 19th when he gave up 1 run in 7 innings in a no-decision against the New York Mets. The Cubs were now clicking on all cylinders again as July ended and were about to switch into a higher gear. They had taken advantage of the trading deadline to strengthen their bullpen, trading four players to the New York Yankees to obtain closer Aroldis Chapman and also acquiring lefty Mike Montgomery from the Seattle Mariners and Joe Smith from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
All the moves seemed to make the Cubs only stronger. They began August by sweeping the Miami Marlins in three games as they won their first ten games of the month while in the midst of an eleven-game winning streak to basically seal the division race with six weeks left in the season. But it was a good thing that they had acquired all of those relievers at the deadline, as set-up man Pedro Strop went down for an extended period with a knee injury, and Hector Rondon, who had pitched well as the closer before Chapman's acquisition, had health issues as well. They finished August with a record of 22-6 and a 15-game lead over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals. During the month, Kyle Hendricks had emerged as the hottest pitcher in the majors, posting a 1.28 ERA to take over the league lead in the category. He won National League honors as Pitcher of the Month while Bryant was the Player of the Month. On September 15th, the Cubs clinched the NL Central title, accomplishing two of their goals for the season: securing a playoff slot and not having to play the Wild Card Game. On September 26th, they won their 100th game, the first time a Cubs team had reached that milestone since 1935. On September 29th, they were involved in the first official tie in the major leagues since 2005 as their game with the Pirates was stopped by rain in the 6th inning with the score at 1-all. Given it was the last scheduled game of the year between the two teams and it had no bearing on the postseason, it met the now very strict conditions for a tie score to be allowed to stand. The Cubs finished with 103 wins, easily the best record in the majors.
The 2016 Postseason worked out exactly as scripted. The Cubs defeated the San Francisco Giants, 3 games to 1 in the NLDS, then after giving fans a fright by falling back two games to one to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, they won the last three games handily to reach the World Series for the first time since 1945. Their opponents were the Cleveland Indians, who were trying to end their own fruitless streak, dating back to 1948. The Indians took a three games to one lead, winning Games 3 and 4 at Wrigley Field, but the Cubs never gave up. They came back to win the last three games, including an epic Game 7 that went into extra innings on November 2nd before they emerged on top, 8-7. There were numerous heroes, including Javier Baez and Jon Lester who shared MVP honors in the NLCS, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo who always gave opposing pitchers headaches, Aroldis Chapman who was used for much longer than he was used to in critical World Series games, back-up C David Ross, who ended his playing career by homering off Andrew Miller in Game 7, Addison Russell, who hit key long balls in the last two series, and Ben Zobrist, who drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of Game 7 and was named World Series MVP. The ensuing victory parade in downtown Chicago drew some 5 million fans.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler, Jon Lester, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist
- NL MVP: Kris Bryant
- NL Gold Glove: Jason Heyward (RF) and Anthony Rizzo (1B)
- NL Silver Slugger Award: Jake Arrieta (P) and Anthony Rizzo (1B)
- Ted Berg: "19 awesome things about the Chicago Cubs", "For the Win!",USA Today Sports, September 16, 2016. 
- David Kaplan: The Plan: Epstein, Maddon, and the Audacious Blueprint for a Cubs Dynasty, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2017. ISBN 9781629373263
- Aamer Madhani: "Fly the W: Cubs fans bask in World Series glory at parade", USA Today Sports, November 4, 2016. 
- Carrie Muskat: "3 questions as Cubs ready for Spring Training", mlb.com, February 18, 2016. 
- Carrie Muskat: "Wrigley, millions: Cubs celebration epic: Fans come out in 'mind-boggling' show of support", mlb.com, November 4,. 2016. 
- Carrie Muskat: "For Cubs and fans in '16, long wait over: Wild ride culminates in first Series title since 1908", mlb.com, December 28, 2016. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Organizational report: Will this finally be the year for the Cubs?", USA Today Sports, February 24, 2016. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Cubs winning the World Series? 'Holy grail of baseball'", USA Today Sports, March 7, 2016. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Revamped Wrigley Field ready for Cubs to roar like never before", USA Today Sports, April 11, 2016. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Cubs ultimately to be judged by October performance", USA Today Sports, September 15, 2016. 
- Bob Nightengale: "These Cubs curl up in the warm embrace of World Series expectations", USA Today Sports, October 13, 2016. 
- Phil Rogers: "Hot Chicago clubs partying like it's 1906: Cubs, White Sox leading divisions with two best records in Majors", mlb.com, May 9, 2016. 
- Phil Rogers: "Bright young stars carry Cubs to new heights: Talented youth is unparalleled in past few decades", mlb.com, October 12, 2016. 
- Tom Verducci: The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, Crown Archetype, Pengui Random House LLC, New York, NY, 2017. ISBN 978-0804190015