Chicago Cubs: The all-time tournament

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 27: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs holds up the 'W' flag after winning the National League Central title against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on September 27, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 27: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs holds up the 'W' flag after winning the National League Central title against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on September 27, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Cubs Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Cubs Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: The All-Time Tournament

2016 Cubs vs. 1984 Cubs

When it rallied from a three-games to one deficit to win the World Series, the 2016 Chicago Cubs carved out a permanent place in the hearts of generations of their fans. For many of those fans, the performance of that team was literally the realization of a lifetime of hopes and often-delayed but never-abandoned dreams.

The 2016  team won 103 games – more than any Cubs team since 1910 – so according to it a second seed is no mere sentimental gesture. Kris Bryant drove in 102 runs and won the National League MVP. Anthony Rizzo added 109 RBIs. And although the team lacked a standout average hitter, its collective .343 on-base average led the National League.

But as is often the case with great Cubs teams, pitching proved to be the key. The staff’s 3.15 ERA was the National League’s best, a full point below the 4.16 league average. Those pitchers allowed 1,125 hits, again the NL’s best and well below the league average of 1,399.

Jon Lester went 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA, Jake Arrieta added a 1-8 record and 3.10 ERA, and Kyle Hendricks delivered a 16-8 record and 2.13 ERA.

The No. 7 seed goes to the 1984 team, the first since World War II to qualify for post-season play. That club went 96-65 to take the NL East by six and one-half games over the Mets.

Rick Sutcliffe, acquired in an early-season trade, made 20 starts, won 16 of them, lost just one, and picked up the Cy Young Award.

The offense was led by MVP Ryne Sandberg (.314, 19 homers, 84 RBIs). But after winning the first two games of the NLCS in Chicago, that team was swept by the Padres in San Diego and denied the first World Series visit in the lifetimes of many of their fans.

The 1984 team is a good one, but not good enough to win the big series. As for the 2016 team, that’s another story.

Winner: 2016  Cubs in four