November 3, 2016
By Gabe Salgado
In the end the Chicago Cubs pulled off a thrilling 8-7 victory in 10 innings, to finally end 108 years of frustration. Their victory over the Cleveland Indians may go down as the greatest World Series of all-time, especially when you consider that the Cubs trailed the series 3-1 and found a way to come back and win it all.
As with any championship victory, it takes a team effort to accomplish such a feat. The Latino players on their roster played a major role in claiming the Commissioners Trophy this year, and here is how they contributed to the Cubs success:
Outfielder Ben Zobrist may have won the World Series Most Valuable Player award, but pitcher Jake Arrieta made a strong case for the award as well. Starting on the hill for games two and six, Arrieta compiled a 2-0 record in which he only gave up three runs on five hits. He also had 15 strikeouts, he held the Indians to a team batting average of .150, and both of his starts were inspirational performances after Cubs losses. Arrieta has been strong for the Cubs all season, but he stepped his game up to the next level in the Fall Classic.
After struggling in the batters box for most of the series, second baseman Javier Baez picked up the pace when it counted the most in game seven. His fifth inning solo home run was part of a stretch in which the Cubs scored five runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings combined.
One part of his game that was consistent however was his defense. Baez made many big plays with his glove that kept the Cubs going. It's the perfect way to end an amazing season for the 23-year-old who's still just getting his career started.
Miguel Montero and Willson Contreras
Catchers Miguel Montero and Willson Contreras didn't always light up the box scores this postseason but they pitched in when it counted the most. They went a combined 12-for-51 at the plate for October and November with two home runs, 10 runs batted in, and five runs scored.
Against Cleveland on Wednesday, Contreras' fourth inning RBI double jumpstarted the Cubs offense, while Montero's 10th inning RBI single turned out to be the championship clinching insurance run. With David Ross retiring and Kyle Schwarber probably getting mostly outfield reps next season, Montero and Contreras will be tasked with manning the backstop and managing the Cubs pitching staff in 2017.
Relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman was a major piece to the Cubs championship puzzle. The team traded for him back in July for this exact purpose. His 36 saves during the regular season wound up being just a sample size of what "The Cuban Missile" brings to the table.
Despite his blown save on Wednesday night, Chapman's playoff numbers overall were pretty solid. The left-handed flame thrower posted a 2-0 record with four saves (not including game seven), 21 strikeouts, a 1.09 WHIP, and a 3.45 earned run average. Chapman is set to hit free agency this winter so it would be wise for the Cubs to crack open the piggy bank to keep his services for 2017 and beyond.
These five men are crucial pieces to an even bigger core of players that ended the Cubs long dreaded "Curse of the Billy Goat". If the franchise can keep these men on board, and if they can stay healthy, they have an excellent chance of repeating next year and possibly creating Chicago's next great sports dynasty.
Source: NBC News