After winning the 2016 World Series, the Chicago Cubs are looking towards defending their championship. On Friday, Jon Lester expressed his faith in the youth of the Cubs to reach the World Series in 2017.
On the cusp of the regular season, Jon Lester shared his thoughts on the upcoming year and presented a new theory on why the Chicago Cubs can repeat their World Series championship. While inexperience often works against teams during the postseason, Lester believes the youth of the Cubs are capable of brining Chicago the 2017 World Series championship.
“With our young guys, they’re cocky enough and naïve enough at the same time to just go out and play and not worry about anything,” Lester said (per mlb.com).
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Lester’s thoughts seem sound when looking back on 2017, but historically speaking it’s nearly impossible to repeat a championship. Since 1888, only 15 teams have won two or more championships in a row. The most recent team to do so were the New York Yankees, who won the World Series three consecutive times. In the midst of their 13-season postseason appearance streak from 1995-2007, the Yankees won the World Series from 1998-2000.
“What makes the Yankees so special is they were able to do it year in and year out,” Lester said (per mlb.com). “It’s just hard. Teams are better across the board. It’s a hard thing to win one, let alone do it two in a row. All we can do is play hard and do the little things like we do in Spring Training to get better and see what happens in the season.”
When comparing the 1998-2000 Yankees with the 2017 Chicago Cubs, they are strikingly similar. Just as the Yankees had Derek Jeter, Ricky Ledee, Ramiro Mendoza and Homer Bush play a role in their World Series runs under the age of 30, the Cubs have their own group of highly-talented youngsters.
No older than 28, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez proved themselves in the postseason. In spite of the pressure of the playoffs and a 3-1 deficit, they each played a key role in 2016 World Series before turning 30-years-old. According to Lester, the age-defying talent on the Cubs is what makes them different than the two other championship teams he played for in 2007 and 2013.
“I think just youth,” Lester said (per mlb.com). “Our big guys are so young. They’re naïve to the situation and just go out and play…These guys are ready to go day one, as usual. I think that’s the biggest thing for us, and the biggest positive on our side is that we have so many young guys who aren’t banged up and don’t have as many innings or at-bats under their belt, and it makes it easier on them to rebound and come back and be ready to go.”
The “big guys” Lester are referring to remained with the Cubs through the changing tides of the offseason. Despite losing a number of key players – including Dexter Fowler, Aroldis Chapman, Travis Wood and Jason Hammel – the core of the Cubs’ roster stayed in tact.
Who knows? Baseball has a funny way of connecting the present with the past. Interestingly, it just so happens the Cubs won their first World Series as a franchise in 1907. If what Lester says becomes a reality, the Cubs would repeat as champions 110 years after their inaugural championship.