Why the Cubs CAN and WILL Win the World Series

One word: Talent

The Cubs have it! All across the board, the Cubs have proven ability to perform. In addition to the ridiculously talented roster of phenomenal athletes, the Cubs have Joe Maddon, one of the best managers in baseball.

Just take the current all-star voting. If voting were to end today, the Cubs would have 1B, 2B, SS, and 3B locked up by Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant respectively. Someone might have a shot at the NL MVP out of that list.  That goes without mentioning that Dexter Fowler is also leading the votes among outfielders. That alone shows the incredible support they have continuously received for the outstanding talent.

Also, how can one forget about the pitching staff? With Arrieta, Lester, and Hendricks dealing the Cubs will have no problem taking care of business in the postseason. These pitchers have the ability to absolutely dominate and shut down opposing teams (especially Arrieta, who might be in line for another Cy Young).

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Now, talent aside, take a look at their record! Currently 51-28 (as of writing this article) they sit nine and a half games above the second place Cardinals in the NL Central.  They have the best record in the entire MLB, and they are on track to make the playoffs with ease.  That is probably why they are the favorites in Vegas right now to win not only the NL Central, but the National League Pennant and the World Series.

Of course, there will be people who say that there is still a lot of season left to be played. While that is true, the Cubs have not shown any signs of slowing. They even added Willson Contreras as a catcher who went up and hit a home run the first pitch of his major league career. Yes, you did read that right. Absolutely unbelievable!

This has also all happened without the help of Kyle Schwarber who experienced a season ending injury after running into Dexter Fowler on April 7. Kyle Schwarber came up huge in the playoffs last year, but the Cubs have shown time and time again that they have the hitting power to get the job done.

So, with all of this one thing still scares me: They are the Cubs! The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908! Despite promising years, the Cubs cannot seem to get over the various curses placed upon them. That being said, not even a curse can hold back the power packed Cubs lineup. This year they will most likely be helped by not having to play in the Wild Card game as well. Although they moved on last year, the Wild Card game tends to be a shot in the dark when it comes to the outcome. Although no easy task, the Cubs have a great chance at this year’s World Series title. Go Cubs!

Who Has Been the AL MVP in the First Half?

The 2016 MLB regular season is just a little over halfway complete and so far there are a handful of front-runners for the AL MVP award. Proper respect should be paid to Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays, Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz of the Red Sox, and Chris Sale of the White Sox, all of whom are having outstanding seasons. They are not included on this list, but they are certainly in contention for the award.

We’ve also taken a look at possible Cy Young candidates and the NL MVP options.  Without further ado, here is a list of the top three AL MVP candidates for the first half of the season.

1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels 

How bad would the Angels be this year without Trout? It is not a pretty thought. The Angels are stuck in the cellar of the AL West with an abysmal record of 33-50, though their lack of success has nothing to do with Trout. He has been a dominant force on the field and a bright spot for Angels fans in an otherwise forgettable season.

Trout, who is still only 24 years old, already has an MVP award and three runner-up finishes in his career. So far this year he is batting .324 with 17 HR, 54 RBI, 13 SB and a league-leading 5.2 WAR. He has these numbers despite a less than stellar first month of the season.

Trout is also one of the best defensive center fielders in the league, which is arguably the most difficult position to play. He is a once-in-a-lifetime talent and has himself well-positioned to take home another MVP award.

2. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros 

After an awful start to the season, the Astros have played themselves back into wildcard contention. They have an electric young core of Carlos Correa, George Springer and Jose Altuve, but it is Altuve who is currently the best of the bunch. Despite his small stature (5 feet 5 inches tall, 170 pounds) he is one of the most dynamic all-around players in the game.

Altuve is leading the major leagues in batting with a .353 average and is second in stolen bases with 21. While he has excelled in these areas in previous seasons, it is his improved power numbers that have helped catapult him to superstar status. After hitting only 34 HR over the past four seasons combined, he already has 14 this season. He also has career highs – by a lot – in slugging percentage (.567) and OPS (.992).

3. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles 

Machado is the best player on one of the best teams in the league. He is also extremely durable, having only recently lost his 229 consecutive games played streak after being suspended for charging the mound. While the incident may have snapped his streak, it showed Machado’s toughness and unwillingness to back down from anyone.

On the year, Machado is batting .325 with 18 HR and 50 RBI. He is also a two-time Gold Glove winner and is widely considered one of the best defensive third basemen in the league. However, unless he has an offensive explosion in the second half that dwarfs the production of his main competition, a lack of stolen bases may prevent Machado from garnering the MVP award.

The American League is loaded with fantastic young talent. It is way too early to say who will be bringing home the AL MVP award, but so far Mike Trout and Jose Altuve are the clear favorites. I can’t wait to see what happens in the second half of the season.

Who Has Been the AL & NL Cy Young Winners in the First Half?

Baseball fans, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is just days away. It is really quite hard to believe that the 2016 baseball season is just about half over. Before all of baseball takes its mid-season stretch, it is time to pause and look at the front-runners for this year’s Cy Young Award.  For those wondering, we’ve already predicted the AL & NL MVPs.

In 1956, Major League Baseball first presented the Cy Young Award to the pitcher named the best for that season. The award itself honors the winning-est pitcher in baseball history, Cy Young, who had passed away in 1955. From 1956-1966, the Cy Young honored a single pitcher from all of baseball. In 1967, the league presented an award for a pitcher from the National League and one from the American League. The Baseball Writers Association of America votes each year to decide the winner from the American League and the National League.

It may seem a bit premature to begin predicting awards before the season is half over. Predictions are just that, fun ways to take the given information and use it to see as far down the road as possible. Potential injuries, random cold streaks, just over all choking and other intangibles are not in the equation so there always is a chance for a season breakdown for unforeseeable reasons.

Prior to his back landing him on the Disabled List, Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw would have been the best choice for a National League Cy Young award. With Kershaw’s immediate future on hold, Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs seems to be the most likely to seize top honors with the coveted award. The thirty-year-old right-hander is sporting a solid Earned Run Average of 2.33 and has pitched 108 innings netting him one-hundred and fifteen strikeouts. Arrieta currently holds the Cy Young award and repeating can be tough but if he stays healthy, productive, and maintains his near- perfect physique Arrieta has a good chance of going back to back this year.  He’s a big reason why the Cubs can win the World Series this year.

The American League is full of exciting pitchers, who are sure to grab the attention of casual and die-hard fans. Leading the pack, so far is Danny Salazar of the Cleveland Indians. The twenty-six year old right-hander has a solid Earned Run Average of 2.22. He has one hundred and thirteen strikeouts in ninety-eight innings pitched. Salazar also has some intangible benefits on his side. Most notably, Salazar’s Indians are one of, if not the, hottest teams in all of baseball. Never discount the value of being around all of that positive energy.

With half a season to go, it is tough to say for sure who the Cy Young award winners will be. Hold on for a fun rest of the season, it will go by much too fast.

Who Has Been the 1st Half NL MVP?

We’ve passed the halfway point of the 2016 MLB season, and thoughts have turned to who the award winners will be this year. It may still be too early to tell who will ultimately take home that hardware, but there have been enough games to make it clear who the front runners are. I’ve narrowed down the list of potential National League MVP to the following top six. Be sure to check out my honorable mentions at the end and who I like in the American League here.

Nolan Arenado

The Colorado Rockies third baseman tops almost every list of MVP contenders, and it is easy to see why. One of the only players to rank as both an offensive and defensive leader, Arenado has really come into his own. Described by some as one of the top five players in the sport, Arenado is on track for an excellent year. He’s slashing .290/.368/.593 right now with 20 home runs this season, and he continues to perform as one of the best third basemen in the league.

Clayton Kershaw

One of the most integral of the Dodger’s players, you could easily make a case for this starting pitcher’s MVP status. Pitching has been one of the Dodger’s few saving graces this year, which just emphasizes Kershaw’s importance to the team. Odds-makers show him nipping at the heels of Arenado in this season’s rankings for MVP. Of course, his recent back injury could knock him completely out of the running, especially with no return date announced.  It also will hurt him in the Cy Young race.

Bryce Harper

The 2015 National League MVP isn’t out of the running to make 2016 a repeat. The Washington National’s outfielder isn’t having a stellar year in terms of his batting average, but his on-base percentage of .043, one of the highest in the league, more than makes up for it. Although he isn’t drawing many hittable pitches, he still has more than ten home runs under his belt and numerous stolen bases, which shows he is capable of putting points on the board.

Yoenis Cespedes

With his recent 19th home run of the season, this New York Mets outfielder is currently tied for fourth-most home runs in the National League. With his 41 runs scored and .288/.357/.562 slash, Cespedes is definitely a contender for MVP. His impressive offensive power has been one of the reasons the Mets have stayed near the top of their division this season. Some have implied that he is carrying the Mets offensively. Regardless, his performance this year puts him in the running.

Jake Arrieta

There are two pitchers for the Chicago Cubs that I can make an argument for, and the first is Jake Arrieta. Although odds-makers aren’t adding him to the list, many experts in the world of baseball recognize the importance of Arrieta. He’s having a really great season after an impressive showing in 2015 won him the National League Cy Young Award. He’s only lost three of the games he’s started this year.  Let’s just hope he performs in the playoffs if Chicago can win the World Series.

Ben Zobrist

My second suggestion is Zobrist. Although his average has taken a beating down to .295, Zobrist was an early favorite for MVP. The Chicago Cubs second baseman has recently been out of the lineup due to a bruised ankle, but he is expected to return and continue the season. He hasn’t been placed at the top of the MVP lineup, but the solid player continues to impress, and will hopefully rub off on the rest of the Cubs bullpen.

So, there you have my top six MVP candidates. We’ll have to see how the rest of the season plays out before we know who is truly deserving of the title. I could also easily see the following honorable mentions making a play for NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Daniel Murphy, Giancarlo Stanton, or Dexter Fowler.