- Team president Theo Epstein devised a 5-year plan to go from worst to first—starting with a draft that focused on promising hitters and strong character.
- Cubs pitchers allowed the fewest runs in the league and their defense turned more than 70 percent of balls hit in play into outs—the highest percentage in the Majors in 25+ years.
- After injury, star hitter Kyle Schwarber retrained his “batting eye” just in time for the World Series by spending two hours-a-day focusing in on 300+ pitches.
The new baseball season is just beginning, butare still savoring the last one, thanks to team president Theo Epstein and his manager, Joe Maddon. They made history together taking the Cubs to their first championship in 108 years. Epstein built the team from scratch, choosing players based on statistics and something more: their character. Take a look at what Theo and Joe—and the Cubs—unleashed in Chicago.
The Cubs victory parade attracted more than a million — the biggest turnout Chicago had ever seen for what no living Chicagoan can remember seeing: a Cubs championship. Manager Joe Maddon said, the giant sea of joy, reminded him of Woodstock.
“The 2011 Cubs were the oldest team in the division, the most expensive team in the division and the worst team in the division.”
Joe Maddon: Welcome to Cubstock 2016. Look at this thing.
Joe Maddon: You’re looking out at like this literally this the horizon of people. It was spectacular.
“Spectacular” because they’d ended the longest championship drought in professional sports. The Cubs turnaround began five years ago when the team’s new owner, Tom Ricketts, hired a miracle worker. Theo Epstein had already helped break an 86-year championship drought by bringing a World Series title to Boston. When the savior arrived in Chicago, one paper had him walking on water. But in his first season the Cubs lost 101 games. By the end only his head was above water.
Theo Epstein: I thought it was funny. The 2011 Cubs were the oldest team in the division, the most expensive team in the division and the worst team in the division. And we really needed to start over.
Bill Whitaker: They’re expecting you to deliver.
Theo Epstein: Yeah.
“I just saw over the years that the times that we did remarkable things, it was always because players didn’t want to let each other down. Players wanted to lift each other up.”
Epstein devised a five-year-plan to go all the way from worst to first. Starting with the draft. Most teams take young pitchers but Epstein chose hitters. He said hitters don’t get hurt as much.
Theo Epstein: Not only were they safer…