MVP ac­co­lades up for grabs

In­di­ans’ ace Klu­ber, Cubs’ slug­ger Rizzo among 12 play­ers among both teams who could claim World Se­ries hon­ors

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Mike Fitz­patrick

One thing was for cer­tain Wed­nes­day night: The Chicago Cubs or Cleve­land In­di­ans fi­nally ended a long cham­pi­onship drought.

Much harder to pre­dict is the player most likely to win World Se­ries MVP hon­ors.

Af­ter a back-and-forth strug­gle that’s now gone the dis­tance, both teams have sev­eral le­git­i­mate con­tenders head­ing into Game 7. Who­ever takes home the tro­phy — which started be­ing awarded in 1955, years af­ter Chicago’s and Cleve­land’s last cham­pi­onships — will be­come the first win­ner in fran­chise his­tory.

Rarely have so many can­di­dates stood out at once. Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs pitch­ers Randy John­son and Curt Schilling shared the 2001 award, two decades af­ter a trio of Los An­ge­les Dodgers split the prize: Ron Cey, Pe­dro Guer­rero and Steve Yea­ger.

Per­haps co-MVPs are a pos­si­bil­ity again — that’s what hap­pened in the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries last month, when Cubs team­mates Javier Baez and Jon Lester were se­lected.

Here’s a look at 12 play­ers who could join a list of Oc­to­ber roy­alty that in­cludes Hall of Famers from Frank Robin­son and Johnny Bench to lesser-known sur­prises like Pat Bor­ders and David Eck­stein.

COREY KLU­BER

If there’s a fa­vorite go­ing into Game 7, it’s prob­a­bly the Cleve­land ace. Klu­ber is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and can be­come the first pitcher to win three World Se­ries starts since 1968 MVP Mickey Lolich for Detroit.

Mak­ing his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive start on only three days’ rest, the 2014

AL Cy Young Award win­ner has struck out 15 and walked one in 12 in­nings. If he throws an­other gem and the In­di­ans win, Klu­ber is a lock. If he fal­ters, the field is wide open.

AN­THONY RIZZO

Af­ter a slow start, Rizzo has come on late in the Se­ries and is a big rea­son the Cubs have won two in a row. The first base­man is bat­ting .364 with six runs, four RBIs and three dou­bles. He had three hits in Game 6, in­clud­ing a two-run homer.

An­other big night at the plate could win it for Rizzo.

FRAN­CISCO LIN­DOR

Just like Rizzo, the In­di­ans’ young short­stop is 8 for 22 in the Se­ries. He’s also walked three times, stolen a base and knocked in two

runs.

AROLDIS CHAP­MAN

The hard-throw­ing Cubs closer has taken on an ex­panded role with his team fac­ing elim­i­na­tion. Chap­man had not en­tered in the sev­enth in­ning since 2012 be­fore do­ing it in Games 5 and 6. He pitched a ca­reer­high 2 2/3 in­nings Sun­day night to save a 3-2 win that sent the Se­ries back to Cleve­land.

Then he got four outs in Game 6 be­fore ex­it­ing in the ninth with Chicago com­fort­ably ahead. He has a 1.42 ERA and nine strike­outs in 6 1/3 in­nings and has thrown 62 pitches in three days. But he said hen was “100 per­cent” ready for Game 7.

JA­SON KIP­NIS

Af­ter grow­ing up a diehard Cubs fan out­side Chicago, the Cleve­land sec­ond base­man has been a ma­jor thorn in their side. Kip­nis is

hit­ting .308 with two homers, four RBIs and five runs.

JAKE AR­RI­ETA

The 2015 NL Cy Young Award win­ner had a spotty post­sea­son his­tory — un­til this World Se­ries.

He is 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two road starts, pulling the Cubs even both times.

He took a no-hit­ter into the sixth in­ning of Game 2 and was handed a large lead early in Game 6.

He has al­lowed five hits and struck out 15 in 11 1/3 in­nings — and said he would be avail­able out of the bullpen in Game 7 if needed.

JAKE AR­RI­ETA

The 2015 NL Cy Young Award win­ner had a spotty post­sea­son his­tory — un­til this World Se­ries. He is 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two road starts, pulling the Cubs even both times. He took a no-hit­ter into the sixth in­ning of Game 2 and was handed a large lead early

in Game 6.

He has al­lowed five hits and struck out 15 in 11 1/3 in­nings — and said he would be avail­able out of the bullpen in Game 7 if needed.

CODY ALLEN

While bullpen mate An­drew Miller has gar­nered much of the at­ten­tion this post­sea­son, Allen has been even more dom­i­nant dur­ing the World Se­ries. Cleve­land’s closer has racked up 10 strike­outs and a save in four score­less in­nings.

If Game 7 is close, ex­pect to see Allen on the mound in a high-lever­age sit­u­a­tion.

BEN ZO­BRIST

Af­ter help­ing Kansas City to a ti­tle last year, Zo­brist is hav­ing an­other strong Se­ries, this time for the Cubs.

He is hit­ting .391 with four runs, three walks and two ex­tra-base hits.

AN­DREW MILLER

Not to be for­got­ten is

Miller, the ALCS MVP and per­haps the big­gest sin­gle rea­son be­hind Cleve­land’s post­sea­son run. The 6-foot-7 lefty is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA and eight strike­outs in 5 1/3 in­nings dur­ing the Se­ries.

He pitched in three of the first four games but has sat out the past two. That means Miller was well­rested for Game 7 and could be called on by the mid­dle in­nings for a par­tic­u­larly long out­ing.

KRIS BRYANT

Prob­a­bly the fa­vorite for NL MVP this sea­son, Bryant be­gan the Se­ries in a 1-for-15 slump. But he home­red in Game 5 to get Chicago go­ing and did it again two days later as the Cubs won again. The 24-year-old slug­ger had four hits in a Game 6 romp and sud­denly is bat­ting a re­spectable .273.

He did make a pair of er­rors at third base.

AD­DI­SON RUS­SELL

The 22-year-old Cubs short­stop did most of his dam­age in Game 6, and what a night it was. Rus­sell hit a grand slam that broke things open and tied a World Se­ries record with six RBIs thanks to a popfly dou­ble that dropped be­tween two In­di­ans out­field­ers.

He is hit­ting .250 with eight RBIs.

KYLE HEN­DRICKS

A great per­for­mance in his Game 7 start for Chicago could con­ceiv­ably make Hen­dricks the MVP. The right-han­der, who led the ma­jors with a 2.13 ERA this sea­son, pitched 4 1/3 score­less in­nings for a node­ci­sion in Game 3.

He came up huge in Game 6 of the NLCS, beat­ing Clay­ton Ker­shaw and the Dodgers 5-0 to give the Cubs their first pen­nant since 1945.

ELSA GAR­RI­SON — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In­di­ans start­ing pitcher Corey Klu­ber was one of the pos­si­ble World Se­ries MVP se­lec­tions.

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