The 2016 World Series, the home field factor, and a Game Two preview

2016-world-series-logo

The 2016 MLB World Series is officially underway.

Chicago was heavily favored coming into last night’s game one, which resulted in a 6-0 home victory for Cleveland. Despite having home-field advantage, Cleveland had nine-fewer total wins this season than Chicago did (94-103). That fact not only raises critics and fans’ eyebrows but questions about how fair baseball’s rules are.

Fairness

To me, winning over 100 games and having the best record warrants a team to have the home-field advantage. However, that’s not the case here. At home this year, Chicago was 57-24 (.704), while Cleveland was 53-28 (.654). The amount of effort they put in towards not only making the postseason and winning the division but winning over 100 games almost seems meaningless. The Wrigley Field fans are passionate, loyal and knowledgeable people, who deserve to start the series at home.

We can thank that lack of fairness to former commissioner Bug Selig, who, for whatever logical reason, decided that the Fall Classic’s home-field advantage should not be decided by who had the better record but by what League won that year’s All-Star Game. This has occurred ever since the 2002 season. Tell me how two teams playing in one non-regular season game with nothing to do with either team playing in the World Series should decide who has more World Series home games than the other?

A friend of mine and a fellow Philadelphia sports enthusiast Matt Froonjian had this to say about the series and the fairness of home-field advantages.

“I still think that the Cubs will win, they have a much deeper lineup and rotation and Andrew Miller looks beatable. As for home field advantage, it’s absurd that a 103 win team doesn’t have home field advantage against a 94 win team. And when I watch the All Star Game I don’t know who to root for until three months after the game. Take last year for example; I rooted for the NL during the game but then when the Mets made the World Series I was thinking, “thank God the NL lost.”
Background

Chicago’s 103 wins this season were the most they’ve had since 1935 (100-54) and the fourth-most wins they’ve ever had in a single season. Meanwhile, after beating Toronto four games to one in the American League Championship Series, Cleveland made their third World Series appearance since 1995. They haven’t won a title since 1948, while Chicago’s drought dates back to 108- before the Indians even existed. Yesterday was Chicago’s first World Series game since 1945.

This year, Chicago fielded three pitchers with 16 or more wins, with game one pitcher (who allowed three runs last night in a 6-0 loss) Jon Lester having won 19 games this year.

Cubs

Talk Sports Philly creator Chris Leomporra had this to say about the Cubs and the series’ outcome.

“Well i want the cubs to win, so I think the series will go six or seven games, with the Cubs winning in an upset and breaking the drought since 1945. But with that monkey on their back it is a big feat to overcome so i think in a sense they are the underdog (despite winning 103 games).”

Chicago’s lineup bolsters two star, MVP-caliber infielders, in third baseman Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo. This season, Bryant had a .292 average, a .385 on-base percentage, 39 home runs and 102 RBIs. Rizzo also hit .292, while putting up 32 home runs and 109 RBIs. Center fielder Dexter Fowler led the team with a .393 on-base percentage. Bryant and Rizzo are not only two of the best sluggers in the league but a formidable tandem.

Former Rays’ manager, in his second World Series appearance and season with Chicago, Joe Maddon led Chicago to its first NL Central division title since 2008. Ironically, Maddon made his first World Series appearance that season, losing with Tampa Bay to the Phillies in five games.

Cleveland

Probables

Chicago will go with right-hand 18-game-winner Jake Arrieta, while, attempting to go up 2 games to none, Cleveland will counter with Trevor Bauer, w ho went 12-8 with a 4.26 this season.

Lineups

Chicago

Dexter Fowler, CF
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Ben Zobrist, LF
Kyle Schwarber, DH
Javier Baez, 2B
Willson Contreras, C
Jorge Soler, RF
Addison Russell, SS

Jake Arrieta, P

Cleveland

Carlos Santana, DH
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Francisco Lindor, SS
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jose Ramirez, 3B
Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
Coco Crisp, LF
Tyler Naquin, CF
Roberto Perez, C

Trevor Bauer, P

Predictions

Fairness and backgrounds aside, I see Chicago furthering the series to at least six games, and winning the decisive game in Cleveland in game six. Tonight, considering how poor Bauer was this season, Chicago could significantly benefit from that, and should win the game in a close one.

Advertisements