In October 2016, two teams that had not been in a World Series for a while faced each other for a championship. The Chicago Cubs ,who last appeared in 1945 and last won in 1908, and the Cleveland Indians ,who had not appeared since 1954 and had not won since 1948, met in the fall classic.
The Cubs (103-58-1) were managed by Joe Maddon with general manger Jed Hoyer and got past the San Francisco Giants (3-1) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (4-2) to get to the World Series.
They were led by Anthony Rizzo (32 HR, 109 RBI, .292 BA, 94 RS), Addison Russell (21 HR, 95 RBI) and Kris Bryant (39 HR, 102 RBI, .292 BA, 121 RS).
Their pitching staff was led by starters Jon Lester 19-5, 2.44 ERA, Jake Arrieta 18-8, Kyle Hendricks 16-8, 2.13 ERA, John Lackey 11-8 and Jason Hammel 15-10. In the bullpen they had Hector Rondon 18 saves and former Red Aroldis Chapman (16 saves, 1.01 ERA) who they obtained in midseason from the Yankees.
The Indians (94-67) were managed by Terry Francona, who led the Red Sox to World Series victories in 2004 and 2007, with general manager Mike Chernoff. They were led on offense by Mike Napoli (34 HR, 101 RBI, 92 RS), Jason Kipnis (23 HR, 82 RBI, 91 RS), Francisco Lindor (.301 BA, 99 RS), Jose Ramirez (.312 BA, 22 SB, 84 RS), Rajai Davis (43 SB) and Carlos Santana (34 HR, 87 RBI, 89 RS).
Their pitching staff consisted of starters Corey Kluber 18-9, Trevor Bauer 12-8, Josh Tomlin 13-9, Carlos Carrasco 11-8 and Danny Salazar 11-6. They had in the bullpen Cody Allen with 32 saves and a 2.51 ERA and Andrew Miller with a 1.55 ERA.
At that time, there was an emphasis on spinning the ball or throwing breaking pitches and Kluber was one of the best in the game at that.
Game one was at Progressive Field in Cleveland with Corey Kluber and Jon Lester as the starters. The Indians won 6-0 as Kluber combined with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen for the shutout as Indian catcher Roberto Perez contributed two home runs and drove in four runs.
In game two, the Cubs bounced back behind a solid pitching performance from Jake Arrieta, Bob Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman for a 5-1 win to tie the series at one game each. Kyle Schwarber added two hits and two RBI in the Cubs’ victory.
In game three, the first World Series game was played in Wrigley Field in Chicago since World War II was still on in 1945.
Terry Francona skillfully used four pitchers to again shut out the Cubs with Coco Crisp’s single to score Micheal Martinez being the only run of the game and the Indians go up two games to one.
In game four, Terry Francona brought Corey Kluber back to pitch on three days rest as he was short on starters for the series and wanted to have Kluber ready for a possible seventh game if needed.
Kluber again pitched six masterful innings allowing one run with the bullpen holding the Cubs to one run and with the help of home runs by Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis go on to a 7-2 victory and a three games to one lead in the series.
In game five, the Cubs regrouped behind six strong innings from Jon Lester and three scoreless innings from Carl Edwards and Aroldis Chapman for a 3-2 win. The winning run came on a sacrifice fly from David Ross, which scored Ben Zobrist. Kris Bryant added a solo home run for the Cubs and the Indians lead is three games to two as the series moves to Cleveland.
In game six the Cubs scored seven runs in the first three innings to go on to a 9-2 victory with the help of home runs by Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo and the series is tied three games each.
Again pitching on three days rest Corey Kluber was back out for game seven but it was evident early that he wasn’t as sharp as he was in games one and four as Dexter Fowler led off the game with a home run.
Kluber lasted only four innings and the Cubs led 6-3 going into the bottom of the eighth inning with the help of home runs by Javier Baez and David Ross with Aroldis Chapman on in relief.
But Chapman had pitched the night before and was not sharp and the Indians got to him for three runs including a two run home run by Rajai Davis to tie the score at 6-6 after nine innings of play.
In the top of the tenth Chicago scored two runs with the second run being singled in by Miguel Montero which would prove to be the winning run as Cleveland could muster only one run in the bottom of the tenth and the Cubs won their first World Series since 1908 with an 8-7 win.
Ben Zobrist got the series MVP and neither the Cubs nor Indians have been back to the World Series since 2016.
Statistics for this article were from baseball-reference.com.