2016 Season Recap
The dramatic end to the 2016 Major League Baseball season was one that couldn’t have been scripted better. The two teams with the longest championship droughts faced off in an epic seven-game series that ended in extra innings. The historical nature of the Cubs victory was such that Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House during their last title.
Below are the three biggest takeaways from the 2016 campaign:
Big Papi’s Swan Song
Since his arrival in Boston in 2003, David Ortiz was a part of three World Series titles for the Red Sox. The fact that he played a central role in breaking a World Series title curse that had lasted 86 years would ordinarily be enough to endear him to the New England area.
When he announced that 2016 would be his final season, Ortiz was feted with gifts in opposing parks across baseball. Of course, the tribute at Fenway Park was the most memorable. Even though the fairy tale ending eluded him when the Red Sox were swept in the American League Divisional Series, his ticket was long ago punched for Cooperstown, with arrival time expected in 2022.
Having not reached the World Series in 71 years and having not won it in 108, the Chicago Cubs became the sentimental fan favorite. Gliding through the regular season with the best record, they endured struggles during the postseason. Most notably, this came during the World Series, when they fell behind 3-1 in the seven-game series.
Theo Epstein traded away high-valued prospects for Aroldis Chapman, who bolstered his free agent leverage with his playoff performance They eventually needed some extra-inning magic from Series MVP Ben Zobrist, but they accomplished their goal. They’ve already been established as the 2017 favorite, primarily because of the talent that will be back and the fact that they’re likely built for a long run at the top.
Prior to this season, the Cleveland Indians hadn’t gone beyond the Wild Card game since 2007. That lack of success led to a steep drop in attendance, which in 2016 saw Cleveland finish in 28th place out of 30 teams.
However, in 2016, a developing pitching staff burst forth and led the Indians to a Central Division title. Two playoff series victories over Boston and Toronto followed, setting up their meeting with the Cubs. What made their playoff run all the more dramatic was that they lost two starters to injury late in the season.
That forced former staff ace Corey Kluber to take on an added workload, which eventually came up short in Game 7 of the World Series. One of the other assets of this staff was reliever Andrew Miller, who came over from the Yankees in a deadline deal.