The 2016 World Series gets underway on Tuesday night at Progressive Field in Cleveland between the host Indians and the Chicago Cubs.
The 112th World Series, the championship of Major League Baseball for the 2016 season, will get underway with Game One on Tuesday night at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Cleveland Indians were champions of the American League Central Division with a record of 94-67, swept the Boston Red Sox in three straight in the ALDS, then defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in five games in the ALCS.
The Chicago Cubs were champions of the National League Central Division with a record of 103-58, downed the San Francisco Giants in four games in the NLDS, then beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in the NLCS.
Despite producing nine fewer victories during the regular season, the Tribe has home field advantage for the Fall Classic thanks to the American League’s 4-2 win in the All-Star Game back in mid-July.
It goes without saying that these are two of baseball’s best ball clubs. You simply do not reach the World Series without being one of the handful of best teams in the game.
Beyond the standings, a look at some of the statistics for the two teams reveals just how good they are, and demonstrates that this series could be evenly contested.
The Cubs were 3rd in MLB in runs scored and extra-base hits, while the Indians ranked 5th in both categories.
Chicago finished 2nd in On-Base Percentage, while Cleveland ranked 8th in that category.
Cleveland runs more and better. The Tribe were 4th in all of baseball in steals, 2nd in stolen base percentage.
The Cubbies were way down at 20th in steals and 25th in stolen base percentage.
Chicago has the better overall defense with a unit that is the best in the game today per Baseball Prospectus rankings on Park Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
PADE measures the percentage of balls in play which a defense converts into outs, with a park adjustment factor. The Indians, ranked 10th, are not likely to hurt themselves in that aspect of the game.
On the mound, the Cubs pitching staff had the lowest Batting Average Against of any team in baseball by a wide margin. The Indians hurlers, ranked 5th, were very good themselves in this area.
The Cubs were 3rd and the Indians 4th in strikeouts. Chicago 1st and Cleveland 6th in WHIP.
One area where the Tribe clearly out-performed the Cubs was in Caught Stealing Percentage, where the Indians ranked 3rd while the Cubs were just the 25th ranked team.
The two skippers, Terry Francona of Cleveland and Joe Maddon of Chicago, are widely considered among the best in the game today.
Both Francona and Maddon are experts in motivating their personnel and in managing a game. There is not likely to be an edge here based on any mistakes by either man.
Let’s take a position-by-position look at the two combatants, and then at the end I will reveal my prediction for the winner of the 2016 World Series.