Sure, the Cubs ran out of gas in the NLCS. Reliable pitching and hitting that carried them through the year vanished against a superior Mets team.
But the bigger picture matters more.
Under first-year manager Joe Maddon, Chicago executed a turnaround that included 97 regular-season wins -- the major league's third-best total -- plus postseason victories over the Pittsburgh Pirates (the team with the second-best record) in the NL wild-card game and the St. Louis Cardinals (the team with the best record) in the NL Division Series.
The Cubs will learn from the experience of falling four wins short of the World Series and fully expect to be in future championship hunts as long-term contenders.
"It stings right now getting swept," said ace right-hander Jake Arrieta, who went 22-6 and is a Cy Young Award contender. "But to be one of four standing at the end of the year and still playing meaningful games in the middle of October is pretty special."
Arrieta tossed the 14th no-hitter in franchise history on Aug. 30 at Dodger Stadium. His 1.77 season ERA was the lowest for a Cubs qualifying starting pitcher in 96 years.
He was among breakout Cubs -- including young third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Addison Russell, left fielder Kyle Schwarber and right fielder Jorge Soler -- who exceeded expectations and now represent the team's future.
"We're really building with a foundation of young position players, and we're going to trust ourselves to add pitching along the way," Cubs president Theo Epstein said.