In the end, the best team won, and that's the way it should be. The Cubs offense woke up just in time to reel off three straight wins, ending a 108-year-old title drought. From a competitive standpoint, the 2016 World Series was as tight as it gets. The two clubs finished tied in runs at 27 apiece. Chicago homered eight times while Cleveland tallied seven home runs. The Cubs posted a .316 OBP while the Indians got on base at a .321 clip. Still, there's something about baseball without fantasy implications that leaves me wanting more, which is why my mind wandered over to individual player stats. While I don't take postseason numbers too seriously due to the small sample size, I don't ignore them altogether, as glancing at these stats gives me an excuse to start thinking about some of the top performers and their outlook for the following season. So, which players in particular caught my attention during the seven-game World Series and what are my expectations from them for 2017?
Ben Zobrist: .357 AVG (10-for-28), 2 RBI, 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B
Let's start with the MVP, who continues to be an underrated fantasy asset. Zobrist's first season with the Cubs was arguably his most productive season since 2011. The 35-year-old doesn't run much anymore but I wouldn't be surprised if he duplicates this year's .272-18-76-94 line in 2017. Throw in the multi-position eligibility and we're looking at a worthy mid-round investment. Note that Zobrist carries added value in OBP leagues (career .358 OBP).
Anthony Rizzo: .360 AVG (9-for-25), HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, 3 2B, SB
Boasting averages of 32 homers, 105 RBI and 94 runs scored over the past two seasons, Rizzo has established himself as a viable top-10 overall pick. One scary thought is that he's still only 27 years old. Another scary thought is that 20 of his 32 homers this season came on the road, away from hitter-friendly Wrigley Field. I see a 40-home run campaign in his immediate future.
Francisco Lindor: .296 AVG (8-for-27), 2 RBI, 2 R, 2B, SB
The word on Lindor upon his big league debut last summer was that his defense was MLB-ready but his bat might take some time to develop. Apparently not. After going .313-12-51-50-12 across 99 games in 2015, Lindor's first full season in the Majors produced a stellar .301-15-78-99-19 line. The Indians shortstop's equally impressive postseason performance suggests that his #30 overall draft position in the MLB.com October Mock was far from a reach.
Jake Arrieta (2 starts): 2-0, 2.38 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 15 K in 11 1/3 IP
Coming off a Cy Young season in 2015, Arrieta wasn't quite as dominant this year, though his final numbers (18-8, 3.10 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 190 K in 197 1/3 IP) were still ace-caliber. I wouldn't mind drafting Arrieta if he comes at a low-end ace price, but judging from early mock draft results, Jake isn't coming at any sort of discount, so I doubt I'll own him in any of my leagues next season. The dramatic walk rate increase from 1.9 BB/9 in '15 to 3.5 BB/9 in '16 is concerning.
Corey Kluber (3 starts): 2-0, 2.81 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 15-to-1 K/BB ratio in 16 IP
Kluber entered this year as a legit top-10 fantasy SP, and thanks in part to disappointing seasons from a few of the other upper-tier hurlers, the Indians righty has improved his stock, even approaching top-5 status. I'm going to chalk up his shaky Game 7 outing to being fatigued from pitching on short rest twice in a row. There's little downside in drafting Kluber to serve as the anchor of your 2017 staff.
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