The Chicago Cubs seem to have every advantage against the Cleveland Indians going into the 2016 World Series.
The Cubs rank higher in Box-Toppers team rankings and its key players outrank comparable Indians players more often in Box-Toppers points.
But the Indians have been underdogs in the first two rounds of the playoffs and have dominated (losing one of eight games), despite the loss of two of its star pitchers to injury. And in this round, the Indians’ World Series roster is bolstered by the return of one of those pitchers—Danny Salazar (12.5 Box-Toppers points, eighth among American League pitchers).
Given the Indians strong postseason performance and given that the Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908 and haven’t been there since 1945, it’s hard to categorically rule Cleveland out. But the Indians have their own World Series drought—it was 1948 when they last won a title and 1997 when they last appeared in the championship.
Cubs players have accumulated 139.5 total Box-Toppers points in 2016, more than any other team. In fact, the Cubs ranked first nearly the entire season—in 24 Box-Toppers weekly team rankings reports, they were ranked first in 22 of them, missing only April 14 and July 21.
The Indians rank fourth in Box-Toppers team rankings with an accumulated 123.7 Box-Toppers points their players earned in 2016. However, they beat the more highly ranked Boston Red Sox (128.3 Box-Toppers points, ranked second) in the AL Division Series.
The Cubs also outmatch the Indians when the key 15 players from each team are matched up position-by-position. In those key 15 spots, Cubs players have 107.5 Box-Toppers points, while the Indians have 91.1. (The chart below shows those position match-ups of players likely to start in the World Series, along with the likely four starting pitchers and closing pitcher, plus the top extra active pitcher. Also listed are each player’s Box-Toppers points earned in 2016, along with their overall rank among all players.)
The Cubs’ key nine batters also have more combined Box-Toppers points than the Indians’ key nine batters (30.5 to 23.5). And the Cubs’ four likely starters have more combined Box-Toppers points than the Indians’ four likely starters (64.6 to 50.1)—and that even accounts for the return of Salazar to the Indians’ rotation.
Matching up key 15 players position-by-position, the Cubs have higher-ranking players in nine match-ups, to the Indians’ six. However, matching up the nine key batters position-by-position, the Indians win five of those match-ups, while the Cubs win four.
The two teams have 10 players among the top 50 in Box-Toppers points, however, only eight are expected to be on World Series rosters:
- 4. Starting pitcher Jon Lester of the Cubs has 22.1 Box-Toppers points, ranked third among National League pitchers, the highest-ranked player remaining in the playoffs and the starter for Game 1.
- 5. Starting pitcher Corey Kluber of the Indians has 21.2 Box-Toppers points, ranked first among AL pitchers. He also starts Game 1.
- 9. Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta of the Cubs has 15.7 Box-Toppers points, ranked sixth among NL pitchers. Arrieta led all players in Box-Toppers points in 2015 with 29.1. He is scheduled to start Game 2.
- 16. Starting pitcher John Lackey of the Cubs has 13.4 Box-Toppers points, ninth among NL pitchers. He is scheduled to start Game 4.
- 17. Starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs has 13.4 Box-Toppers points, 10th among NL pitchers. He is scheduled to start Game 3.
- 20. Starting pitcher Jason Hammel of the Cubs has 13.0 Box-Toppers points, 13th among NL pitchers. The crazy thing here: While Hammel ranks 20th among all players in Box-Toppers points, he is the Cubs’ fifth starter and as such, was not even on the team roster for the first two rounds of the playoffs and is not figured in here among those playing in the World Series. He’s just listed here to flaunt the Cubs’ embarrassment of pitching riches.
- 24. Starting pitcher Danny Salazar of the Indians has 12.5 Box-Toppers points, eighth among AL pitchers. Salazar has been out since Sept. 9 when he suffered a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm. He is expected to be on the Indians’ World Series roster, though his role is yet to be determined. He may start later in the series or be used in relief.
- 28. Starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco of the Indians has 12.4 Box-Toppers points, 10th among AL pitchers. But he is out for the remainder of the season with a broken hand, suffered Sept. 17.
- 34. Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer of the Indians has 11.4 Box-Toppers points, 12th among AL pitchers. In the AL Championship Series, Bauer was only able to pitch less than an inning due to injury—he bled profusely from a pinky cut sustained while fixing a drone and had to be removed from the game.
- 46. Third baseman Kris Bryant of the Cubs has 10.5 Box-Toppers points, second among NL batters.
Two Cubs players will be included in Box-Toppers season-ending NL All-Star team:
- Lester as starting pitcher.
- Bryant as top-ranked outfielder (though he’s played third base throughout the playoffs).
The Indians will have two players on Box-Toppers season-ending AL All-Star team:
- Kluber as the top-ranked starting pitcher.
- Andrew Miller (8.0 Box-Toppers points) as the top-ranked AL middle relief pitcher.
Some notes on the roster below:
- David Ross is listed as catcher for the Cubs, though Willson Contreras played in more games during the NL Championship Series. Ross has more Box-Toppers points in 2016 (2.5) and Contreras has yet to make his Box-Toppers debut by earning Player of the Game honors for the first time in his career.
- Jorge Soler is listed as the designated hitter for the Cubs. Soler started in right field in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series and has the most Box-Toppers points among Cubs batters not in the starting roster.
- Outfielder Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs may make the World Series roster, returning from left knee surgery from an injury he suffered April 7. Even if he were on the roster here, he earned no Box-Toppers points in 2016 as he was injured so early in the season and does not provide the Cubs any Box-Toppers point advantage. Schwarber earned 5.0 Box-Toppers points in his 2015 rookie season.
About Box-Toppers—Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.
Box-Toppers strives for accuracy. See a mistake in a post? A wrong name, wrong team, grammar error, spelling goof, etc.? Thanks for pointing it out! Contact Box-Toppers here. Let's fix it and make it right.
World Series player comparisons
Likely starting players for the Cubs and Indians listed by position with their Box-Toppers point total (BTP) for the 2016 regular season and their overall rank among all players. The checkmark shows the player with the higher Box-Toppers player ranking at that position:
|1B||Anthony Rizzo||3.0||306||Mike Napoli||6.5||139||✓|
|2B||Javier Baez||2.0||455||✓||Jason Kipnis||0.0||816|
|SS||Addison Russell||3.5||298||Francisco Lindor||7.0||119||✓|
|3B||Kris Bryant||10.5||46||✓||Jose Ramirez||1.5||512|
|CA||David Ross||2.5||389||✓||Roberto Perez||0.0||865|
|CF||Dexter Fowler||1.5||511||Tyler Naquin||2.0||484||✓|
|LF||Ben Zobrist||4.0||269||✓||Coco Crisp||3.0||325|
|RF||Jason Heyward||1.0||649||Lonnie Chisenhall||3.5||301||✓|
|DH||Jorge Soler||2.5||378||Carlos Santana||2.5||375||✓|
|SP||Jon Lester||22.1||4||✓||Corey Kluber||21.2||5|
|SP||Jake Arrieta||15.7||9||✓||Danny Salazar||12.5||24|
|SP||John Lackey||13.4||16||✓||Trevor Bauer||11.4||34|
|SP||Kyle Hendricks||13.4||17||✓||Josh Tomlin||5.0||202|
|CP||Aroldis Chapman||7.4||104||✓||Cody Allen||7.0||115|
|PI||Mike Montgomery||5.0||206||Andrew Miller||8.0||92||✓|
World Series Game 1, Cubs at Indians
Tuesday’s starting pitchers:
Cubs—Jon Lester, 22.1 Box-Toppers points, ranked fourth among all players, third among NL pitchers.
Indians—Corey Kluber, 21.2 Box-Toppers points, fifth among all players, first among AL pitchers.
Both Lester and Kluber have earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors twice so far this postseason. Lester was Player of the Game in NLDS Game 1 vs. the Giants and in NLCS Game 5 vs. the Dodgers. Kluber was Player of the Game in ALDS Game 2 vs. the Red Sox and in ALCS Game 1 vs. the Blue Jays.