OSS: The Cubs were a better baseball team than the Brewers or the Cardinals this year.
1. Kris Bryant leads the NL in fWAR this year, with 6.7. His .295/.410/.539 line is very close to the trinity slash. When he broke into the league, he was a below average fielder who constantly lead Rizzo up the bag with his throws. He fixed that completely and is now among the second tier of third basemen defensively. He should probably be a repeat MVP, but certainly won't because of inertia and runs batted in.
2. Anthony Rizzo has walked more than he's struck out. He's hit 32 HR, the 4th consecutive year with 31 or 32 (which is sort-of hilarious). His BABIP is basically the only thing keeping him from down-ballot MVP consideration. Leader of men.
3. Acquired at the trade deadline, Jose Quintana has sort-of quietly been the best pitcher on the Cubs roster. In the 2nd half, he went 79.2 IP with a 3.50 ERA (3.38 FIP), with a 22% K-BB. That'll play. The Cubs were tied for the division lead when they acquired Quintana and won the division in no small part due to him. (takes a deep breath) I was probably wrong about advocating selling a month before the trade deadline.
Honorable Mentions: Willson Motherfucking Contreras, Carl Edwards Jr, El Mago, Wade Davis
Three Down (you'll see how much of a stretch you have to make for this)
1. Justin Grimm was a useful reliever for 3 years. He was a part (a small, small part) of a World Series winning team. I'll have fond memories of Justin Grimm. Justin Grimm will and should probably never throw another meaningful pitch for the Cubs again. The spike around baseball in HR is basically 10% accounted for on Justin Grimm appearances alone. Grimm basically traded 1.2 strikeouts per 9 innings for 1.2 home runs per 9 innings.
2. The Brett Anderson Experience sounds like a really shitty jam band, but in reality it was just a really shitty pitcher for the Cubs. It's hard to fault the Cubs (or Anderson) too much, as all parties knew it was a longshot.
3. Ben Zobrist's days of a useful starting 2B are probably over. There is still some value in his utility, and he's a very serviceable supersub, but the diminution in his skills and value is fairly stark. At the beginning of the year, you probably could have traded him away for just his contract. Now, you would have to eat a pretty sizeable chunk. That's not overly important, but it's a clear demonstration of the type of year he's had.
Dishonorable Mentions: Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, the fact that Eloy Jimenez is going to be fucking incredible (seriously, he might the top prospect in baseball next year)
A Small Collection of Cardinal Tears (c/o Suburban Kid)
"Party on the mound should be a searing image branded in the brains of the Cardinals, who know that their approach is not working — and know that the Cubs clearly aren’t going away.
On Wednesday, the visual was startling. Halting. A piercing, fierce reminder of how bad things have gotten.
It is the first time an opposing team has ever clinched a division title at Busch Stadium III and the first time the Cubs have claimed any kind of title in St. Louis since 1938, the same year Superman debuted in comic books.
'It freaking (stinks),' Wacha said. 'You never want to see anybody celebrating on your own home field.'
The Cubs won all four of Lackey’s starts against his former team.
They built their berth on the Cardinals.
Tied in the standings the day they traded for Quintana, the Cubs have won 10 of their past 12 games against the Cardinals entering the season finale."