Two Cities. Two Teams. High Stakes.

Two+Cities.+Two+Teams.+High+Stakes.

176.

The total number of years since the Cubs or Indians have been champions of the baseball world. The Cubs won their last World Series in 1908, while the Indians last stood victorious in 1948. But one of these droughts is bound to get some rain as these two teams square off in our national pastimes “Fall Classic.”

The Chicago Cubs came into this season ready to play, leading the MLB with 103 wins this season. The Cubs dominated their opposition, ranking at the top of almost every positive production category. They ranked first in team WAR (wins above replacement) at 38.7, and third in team wRC+ (weighted runs created plus, a stat that measures the overall hitting ability of a team/player) at 106. The team also lead the league in defense, with their Def (defensive runs above average) coming in at 69.0— the second best being only 53.7.

Chicago Cubs Postseason Hopes
Lifelong Cubs fans still long to see a World Series victory

On top of stellar play from their position players, the Cubs had the best pitching staff in the league, posting a league leading ERA (earned run average) of 3.15, which is a whopping .47 points lower than the second best (3.52). The Cubs own a deadly postseason rotation headed by Cy Young front-runner Jon Lester, 2015 Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, MLB’s 2016 ERA leader Kyle Hendricks, and seasoned veteran John Lackey.

Backed by a young core of position players, a dominant pitching staff, and straight heat with Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, the Chicago Cubs are the best team in Major League Baseball.

But when it comes to October, anything can happen. Since 1995, the team that finished with the best record in baseball has only won the world series 20 percent of the time. And the Cleveland Indians are on a mission to lower this number.

The “Windians” have been the postseasons biggest surprise, boasting an impressive 7-1 record, dominating two power-house teams in the Boston Red Sox, and the Toronto Blue Jays. Throughout the regular season the Indians play was impressive, finishing second in the American League with a record of 94-67. The Indians ranked seventh in overall ERA (3.86) and sixth in team wRC+ (102). Furthermore, the team also got it done on defense, posting a defensive runs above average of 41.6 (fifth best in the league). So since the Cubs are clearly the better team on paper, why is it that I am taking the Indians to win the series?

Andrew Miller celebrating
Photograph by Frank Gunn from “The Columbus Dispatch”

Andrew Miller. The fate of “Believeland” lies in the arm of a 6’7” left-handed monster. Miller is perhaps the most dominant relief pitcher in baseball, and he has definitely proved that so far in October. Over the course of the season, Miller threw 74.1 innings, posting a 1.45 ERA, while striking out 44.7 percent of batters faced, and only walking 3.3 percent. Miller has appeared in six of the eight postseason games, throwing 11.2 innings, letting up only 5 hits, 2 walks, 0 runs, and striking out 21.

The Indians paid a steep price for Miller when they picked him up off the Yankees at this year’s trade deadline: multiple high-end prospects. At the time, this trade looked as if it could significantly harm the Indians future but if the 2016 World Series goes to Chief Wahoo, all negative trade thoughts will be flushed down the drain.

Cleveland and Chicago, two of biggest sports-towns on the map. Two cities that have waited a LONG time for this moment. Will Terry Francona manage the second championship trophy of this year to Cleveland, or will Joe Maddon bring a ring to a city that has waited over 100 years? My call is the Indians in six.