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Most Captivating MLB Moments of 2016

By Brandon Murphy and David Schwartz – Last Word On Baseball

As the 2016 calendar year comes to an end, the LWOS MCXM series captures the 10 most captivating stories from 2016 in each sport. LWOB takes a look at the most captivating moments from 2016, whether it be for on-field accomplishments, off-season drama, or happenings away from the ballpark.

Most Captivating MLB Moments of 2016

10. Alex Rodriguez’s Retirement

It happened so suddenly.

On August 7, 2016, the New York Yankees announced they would be releasing third basemen Alex Rodriguez, forcing him to retire after 22 seasons. What made the move so sudden was that it wasn’t an announcement for the end of the season. This was a move that was made to happen later in the week. It was announced that sad Sunday morning that A-Rod would be playing his final game that Friday, August 12, and would continue working with the organization as a special advisor. Even though the Yankees were still sustaining a record over .500 late in the season, the organization still believed it was an appropriate time to move on from the 41-year old. In his final game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, Rodriguez went 1-4 with an RBI double.

A-Rod ended his fantastic career with a .295 batting average, 696 home runs, 2,086 RBI, and 3,115 hits.

9. Trevor Bauer and the Drone

The 2016 postseason came with many notable occurrences. What occurred between Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer and a drone might have had some effect on the World Series.

Prior to Game 2 of the ALCS between the Toronto Blue Jays, Bauer got involved in a bizarre accident while repairing his drone. As he plugged the drone in, the propellers caused serious damage to his right pinky finger, which caused him to miss his start in Game 2 due to needing stitches. Bauer was given the start for Game 3 a few days later, but during the first inning, the stitches split, causing him to be pulled out of the game.

The Indians went on to win the American League Pennant and face the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, but Bauer would not be the same after the drone incident. Bauer went 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in the Fall Classic and the Indians would go on to lose to the Cubs in their epic seven-game battle.

8. Jonathan Lucroy Denies Trade to Cleveland

While the Cleveland Indians had what many considered to be a successful season, certain fans believed the club could have won the World Series if certain things had gone their way. Bauer’s injury was one of the occurrences that took place. One of the other occurrences was during the trade deadline in July when the Indians were still attempting to upgrade their team.

Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy was being targeted by the club at the time. On Saturday, July 30, the Brewers and Indians agreed to a trade in which the Indians would acquire Lucroy in exchange for four of their prospects. The following morning, Lucroy exercised his no-trade clause on his contract and vetoed the trade. It turns out that Lucroy asked the Indians to void his 2017 club option in order to hit the open market at the end of the season. Cleveland did not fulfill this request and Lucroy ended up being traded to the Texas Rangers instead.

7. Trevor Story’s Hot Start

What an opening week it was for baseball in 2016. Not one player had a better week than Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story.

In what many considered to be the best opening week for any player ever, Story compiled a total of seven home runs and 12 RBI from April 4th to April 10th. Story became the first major league ever to homer in each of his first three career games and the first player to hit four homers in his team’s first three games. After the first week of the season, Story was on pace to hit 189 home runs and 324 RBI. Obviously, those numbers would be astronomical had he stayed on the pace he had for the first six games of his career, but Story still finished a fantastic month of April with 10 home runs and 20 RBI.

Story injured his left arm in early August and would have to sit out the rest of the season. He finished his rookie season with a .272 batting average, 27 home runs, and 72 RBI.

6. Ichiro’s 3,000th Hit

Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki might have become the all-time hit king at the professional level earlier in the season by passing Pete Rose’s total of 4,256 hits.

Since his totals from Japan (1,278 hits) and his MLB career were being added up, that accomplishment was not as significant. On August 7th, Ichiro became the 30th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits, a number that basically guarantees any player’s status as a future Hall of Famer. Ichiro entered the 3,000th hit club by ripping a triple off of Colorado Rockies pitcher Chris Rusin at Coors Field. He would then be mobbed at third base by his teammates to ensure the 42-year old knew that he made history.

Since he entered the MLB at the age of 27 in 2001, Ichiro became the second player to collect 3,000 hits after the age of 27 (Rose had 3,353 hits after 27) and the third player ever to record his 3,000th hit at the age of 42 or older, joining Cap Anson (45) and Rickey Henderson (42), who also accomplished that feat. No matter how long Ichiro keeps playing, he will undoubtedly be a future Hall of Famer.

5. Rougned Odor Punching Jose Bautista

The Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays do not like each other.

It all started in the 2015 ALDS, when Jays slugger Jose Bautista launched a mammoth three-run shot in the seventh inning of Game Five, tossing his bat in the process and infuriating Rangers players. On May 15 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Bautista was plunked with a fastball by Rangers reliever Matt Bush. Justin Smoak seemingly hit into an inning-ending double play, however Bautista slid late into Odor, and he did not take it that well.

Soon after, one of the biggest brawls in baseball history took place. Most fights between players don’t last very long and not much violence occurs. Not between these teams. Odor clocked Bautista square on the jaw, causing his sunglasses to fly off his face. Benches cleared. Chaos ensued.

In all, fourteen players were suspended, a budding rivalry was doused in gasoline, and whether it was good for baseball or not, it was widely entertaining.

4. Bartolo Colon’s Home Run

Bartolo Colon at the plate is one of the most endearing moments in all of baseball. Until May 7 in San Diego, however, he had never hit a major league home run. That would change.

In the second inning off of Padres starter James Shields, Colon smoked a homer over the left field wall and fans immediately pulled out their sun dials to clock Colon’s trot. It was a masterful blast off Colon’s bat and everyone in baseball country was cheering him around the bases.

3. Clayton Kershaw’s NLDS Game Five Save

Clayton Kershaw had an up-and-down season in 2016. After dominating baseball from April through June, he suffered a herniated disc and would miss the next 75 days. He would return for a few starts in September, pacing himself for the Los Angeles Dodgers’s next playoff run.

L.A. would face the NL East winning Washington Nationals in the NLDS. Kershaw would start two games and appear in all three of their wins, but his greatest performance was in relief in the clinching Game Five.

After tossing 100+ pitches just two nights ago in Game Four, Kershaw came in to relieve Dodger closer Kenley Jansen with one out in the ninth inning. Kershaw would force Daniel Murphy to pop out in the infield and pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo would strike out. Kershaw had his first career save and the Dodgers were headed to the NLCS.

2. Vin Scully’s Final Game

Vin Scully had been baseball’s premier storyteller behind the microphone since the early 1950s. His baseball legend is unmatched.

One of greatest factors of baseball is that it fosters and breeds conversation. No one was better at that than Scully. The comfort of his voice diverted fans of all ages away from any struggles or hardships they may have been going through. He just asked that we join him for a relaxing conversation about baseball.

Just listen to his final silver-tongued call to truly understand what he meant to the game of baseball. Good-bye Mr. Scully, your voice and image will never be forgotten.

1. The Chicago Cubs Are World Champions

108 years is a long time. Being a Chicago Cubs fan had to be the most stressful experience on your mind and body. That anxiety would continue throughout the majority of the season.

The Cubs would see one of their young sluggers, Kyle Schwarber, tear his ACL in early April and miss the rest of the regular season. Their prized acquisition, Jason Heyward, was statistically the worst offensive outfielder in baseball. However, the Cubs still won 103 games, winning the NL Central by 17.5 games.

They had to go through Madison Bumgarner and Kershaw to win the National League pennant and overcome a 3-1 deficit to the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

They had to face Corey Kluber, the Cleveland ace, who had been unstoppable in October. The Cubs answered quickly, with Dexter Fowler‘s lead-off homer. Kluber was forced out after four runs in four innings. They then faced ALCS MVP Andrew Miller. Miller walked Kris Bryant and gave up an RBI-single to Anthony Rizzo to make the score 5-1 in the fifth.

The Indians would eventually tie the game at six, forcing extra innings. Then, rain. Cubs fan’s stress meters were now boiling over.

Then the tenth inning. Schwarber led off the inning with a single, Ben Zobrist doubled him home, then Miguel Montero singled him home, making the score 8-6. Mike Montgomery would save the game, 8-7, and the Cubs were World Champions for the first time since 1908.

This Cubs story is now not about peering behind but looking ahead. Not only is the franchise not a group of lovable losers anymore, but they should be favored for the next five to seven years on winning the title. This franchise is building a dynasty, and Cubs fans, for the first time, can relax.

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