CLEVELAND -- Never before had a team started a World Series game with six position players under the age of 25. On Wednesday night, Cubs manager Joe Maddon's lineup included Kris Bryant (24), Willson Contreras (24), Jorge Soler (24), Kyle Schwarber (23), Javier Báez (23) and Addison Russell (22) in a 5-1 victory over the Indians that evened the World Series at a game apiece.
Although these Cubs may no longer think of themselves as quite so young.
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Bryant was presented the Hank Aaron Award before Wednesday's game and is among the favorites to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award. Schwarber already is the franchise's all-time leader in postseason home runs and is in the midst of another stellar October performance. Russell has been a top defensive shortstop since his debut in 2015 and started an All-Star Game. Baez, the NL Championship Series co-MVP, has been one of the breakout stars of this postseason and Soler has had his own flashes of stardom since debuting in 2014.
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All of them had playoff experience before this October, except Contreras, the only one who still qualified as a rookie entering the season.
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"I forget sometimes," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "When you actually look at their age, yeah, it's remarkable how young they are. But also we do have veteran guys around them, which I think is really helpful. We're a very young team, but we're not a team of kids."
And it sometimes can be easy to forget about their youth because of how good the Cubs are. Maddon admitted as much.
"They might get a little bit out of control on occasion at the plate, but in the field they've been outstanding," Maddon said. "You're right, I don't really think about these guys are that young.
"Moving forward as they've gained this experience from this season and the World Series experience, they're going to keep getting better. These kids are going to get better. They're scratching the surface of how good they can be."
When Hoyer arrived alongside Jason McLeod to help president of baseball operations Theo Epstein in 2011, they stated a strategy of drafting and building the team through position players and it's come to fruition.
And these Cubs have grown up fast in order to deal with the pressure that has been thrown at them, including trying to deliver the franchise its first World Series championship since 1908.
"We realize that were young," Russell said. "We realize that when it comes to World Series and postseasons, we're obviously a little bit inexperienced, but being around the media and the media just being around us, it already has prepared us to be on this stage. Going into the season with huge expectations, huge prospects, huge names in this organization period, being put in that situation it just gives you a sense of you've been here before and you just go out and play."