By Billy Wilkinson
As Kris Bryant fielded Michael Martinez’s slow roller into third, followed by a routine throw to first, he may have already been thinking about next year’s World Series win. His smile on the play tells it all.
The Chicago Cubs waited 108 years for a World Series win, and long suffering Cubs fans should be enjoying the moment. However, there is certainly reason to think they may be popping more champagne bottles in the future.
Some members of the media have already tipped this: ‘The first night of the Cubs dynasty’. David Schoenfield of ESPN claimed the Cubs will ‘probably’ be a dynasty. The Cubs have five of their young core under contract until 2021, totalling just 16.9% of their total payroll. Probable League MVP Kris Bryant’s contract is included in this too.
Dave Cameron of FanGraphs noted how young and productive this group of players are. The Cubs ranked third in plate appearances of players 25 and under, and they delivered an on-base plus slugging % that ranked third in the league as well. So these young players weren’t fazed by the fast balls of the big leagues.
However, Cameron was quick to halt the premature celebrations and recognised that a young core doesn’t necessarily guarantee you success. The 1978 Montreal Expos also had a great core of young hitters, followed by two years of 90-win seasons. Those late 70’s Expos teams never reached the heights they were expected to and never delivered a World Series.
A veteran presence is needed within any championship team. With catcher David Ross retiring, the Cubs will miss his calming presence, as evidenced in the World Series. Outfielder Jason Heyward will remain with the team next year though, and he helped calmed down the young Cubs during a rain delay.
It shouldn’t be understated just how hard it is to repeat as World champions in baseball. Since the World Series started in 1903, there have been just 14 repeating champions, six of those being the New York Yankees. No team has repeated since the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays. It sure isn’t easy.
This Cubs team have already made history, breaking the 108 year curse of the Billy Goat. There’s no reason they can’t write history for years to come. Baseball is as unpredictable as any sport, but with this young core, masterminded by general manager Theo Epstein, downtown Chicago should perhaps prepare itself for more parades.