One week ago -- as I'm writing this, I should specify -- the Indians had a 3-2 lead in the World Series and the Cubs' backs were against the wall. Now people are already telling Cubs fans to shut up and stop acting like they are the first team to ever win it all. What a difference just a few days makes, huh?
Still, the 2016 MLB postseason is not too far in the rear-view mirror and what an outstanding postseason it was. For fun, let's take a quick look back and name an All-Postseason team.
Obviously, we're going to see more from the teams that advanced later than the ones who bowed out early. That should go without saying. From there, it's a rather subjective exercise, meaning there will be disagreement. Which is fine. I get yelled at all the time by aggrieved power rankings readers. Just remember the Cubs and Indians got their team hardware.
Buster Posey hit .278 with a .364 OBP, but he only had one extra-base hit (a double that wouldn't end up mattering) and his team was bounced in four games in the NLDS. Contreras, though, hit .256/.326/.385 in more than twice as many at-bats with two doubles, a homer off Clayton Kershaw and five RBI -- including a two-run single that tied the Cubs with the Giants in their epic Game 4 comeback.
By the way, David Ross slugged .688 while controlling the running game with Lester on the hill. Miguel Montero hit a go-ahead grand slam (Game 1 NLCS) and an all-important tack-on RBI single in Game 7 of the World Series that would end up being the difference.
Maybe I could've just gone with "Cubs catchers" here.
Rizzo started miserably at the plate, hitting .077 through NLCS Game 3. From then on, however, he destroyed the ball to the tune of a .410/.489/.769 slash with five doubles, three homers and 10 RBI. The Cubs went 7-3 in those games.
Credit Ryan Zimmerman's .353/.450/.471 NLDS, but that was in 17 at-bats in a series his team lost.
Javier Baez was the easy pick here, but he was terrible in the World Series until Game 7. Even then, he made a pair of errors in the field. I still considered him, but I felt like Murphy's postseason mystique deserved the nod. This time around he hit .438 with a .545 OBP and six RBI in five games. He even stole two bases while striking out just once.
I'm actually just not picking Baez because it would be the third-straight Cub, though, right? Feels like his breakout first two rounds were worthy.
A star with the glove and the bat, Lindor got to show his stuff to a national audience throughout October, and good for him. He's deserving of tons of attention. Through the entire postseason, he hit .310/.355/.466 with three doubles and two homers.
Addison Russell showed his defensive chops, penchant for big homers and drove home 13, but he hit .203/.235/.375. No one else was really considered.
Again, we're going to talk about the Cubs, because Kris Bryant firmly established that he can get the job done on the big stage many times. He ended with a .308/.400/.523 line. He had five doubles and three homers.
Donaldson through the ALCS, though, hit .417/.462/.667 with six doubles and a homer. There were times when it felt like he was tasked with carrying the offense against the Indians.
By the way, I shudder to think that we are a good Giants closer away from possibly having Conor Gillaspie in the discussion here.
In terms of individual performance -- which is what a team like this is all about -- I didn't have a great option among teams that advanced. Werth destroyed the ball in the NLDS (.389/.522/.667), though, so we'll go with him.
As for why we didn't pick World Series MVP Ben Zobrist? He actually hit .250/.319/.359 in the postseason. It's possible his bunt turned everything around in Game 4 of the NLCS, but we can't prove that. As for the response to, "What does the game-winning hit in the World Series get him?" Um, it gets him a ring and an MVP trophy. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't trade places with Werth.
Trea Turner hit .318 with a .333 OBP and two steals, but he struck out 11 of his 22 at-bats and had zero extra-base hits while his team lost. No one else really had a gaudy offensive line, so it's Fowler.
He hit .250/.280/.444. The five doubles and three homers are great and take note of his 11 runs. The "you go, we go" mantra was in full effect with his leadoff homer in Game 7 of the World Series, too, setting the tone for the victory.
Can't I just count Zobrist over here?
The right field performances were mostly forgettable -- at least offensively -- here, aside from a Dodgers duo that split time, but Carrera did surprisingly hit .303 with two triples and a homer as the Jays advanced twice (including the wild-card game).
Believe it or not, this was a no-brainer. After all, Schwarber returned from ACL/LCL repair surgery to go 7-for-17 (.412) in four games as a DH for the Cubs, three of which they won. He started the winning rally in the top of the 10th of Game 7. Perhaps best of all, the lineup just had a different feel. Joe Maddon batted Schwarber second in the final two games, bumping Bryant to third, Rizzo to cleanup and Zobrist to fifth. Top to bottom, it felt much more dangerous.
Schwarber neutralized the "NL needs a DH" thing and the fact that the Indians had home-field advantage thanks to the All-Star Game result.
Give me another good choice if you don't like Schwarber here.
One of three frontline Indians starters, Kluber was the only healthy one entering the playoffs, and he carried the load all the way to the end. Prior to Game 7 of the World Series, Kluber had a 0.89 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings in five starts, two of which came on short rest. He'd previously never pitched on short rest.
The Cubs roughed up Kluber in Game 7 when he tried to go on short rest in two straight starts, raising his playoff ERA to 1.83.
The other strong choice here would be Kyle Hendricks, who had a better ERA (1.42) and outpitched Kluber in Game 7, but he also logged nine fewer innings in one fewer start. Feels like it needs to be Kluber, but I could see both sides.
Lester's "bad" outing was Game 1 of the World Series, when he allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts. Some of the trouble came in the first inning, thanks to a well-placed swinging bunt. It still counts, of course, but overall Lester had a 2.02 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 35 2/3 postseason innings (tops in MLB).
As good as Andrew Miller was, Allen posted better numbers in some ways. In 13 2/3 innings, Allen didn't allow a single run while posting a 0.95 WHIP. He struck out 24 (again, look back up at that inning total). The Indians didn't just get a long way with their pitching because of Kluber and Miller. More were involved and Allen is at the top of that list.
We can close without even having to discuss this, right? We should. Anyone trying to argue against it is fired from commenting forever. I have that power, too.