World Series

Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis tests his sore ankle by running the bases during workouts on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, ahead of Tuesday's Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS)

PHIL MASTURZO

Five current or retired professional baseball players with local ties pick the World Series:

Chris Hammond (Oxford, retired)

Pitched for 14 major league seasons, including an incredible 2002 season as a member of the Atlanta Braves when he was 7-2 with a 0.95 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 76 innings over 63 relief appearances.

Winner: Chicago Cubs

Games: 6

Why: I feel like they have everything going their way. I think they have America behind them. They have the Cubs’ fans. They have pitching. They have hitting. I really feel like it’s their time with the way they’ve put together the team that they have this year … a good group of players that are hungry.

Who to watch: Kris Bryant (He’s special.) and Jason Heyward (If Heyward has a good series the Cubs are going to win.)

MVP: Kris Bryant

Shed Long (Jacksonville, Reds)

Started the season at Dayton then was promoted to Advanced-A Daytona Dry Tortugas for final six weeks of season. In 38 games, hit .322 with 30 RBIs. Had 15 home runs and 75 RBIs in 132 games overall.

Winner: Cleveland Indians

Games: 6

Why: They’ve got a chip on their shoulder and they’re playing their best ball right now.

Who to watch: Lonnie Chisenhall, Francisco Lindor, Mike Napoli and Cleveland’s pitching staff (Pitching has to control the Cubs’ lineup. To me, honesty, other that (Jason) Heyward, there’s no weak spot in the lineup.)

MVP: Francisco Lindor

Zach Lovvorn (Oxford, Royals)

Made 25 appearances, 23 starts, for Advanced-A Wilmington Blue Rocks with Carolina League’s sixth-best ERA at 3.95, earning Royals’ recognition as Wilmington’s pitcher of the year.

Winner: Chicago Cubs

Games: 6

Why: Both teams have great pitching but I think it’s going to be hard to beat, (Jake) Arrieta, (Jon) Lester and (Kyle) Hendricks. The Cubs are a scrappy group of incredibly talented guys.

Who to watch: Jake Arietta, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist

MVP: Javier Baez

Jackson Stephens (Oxford, Reds)

Made 26 starts for Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos with a 3.68 ERA and 131 strikeouts over 151.1 innings. Member of Southern League All-Stars.

Winner: Chicago Cubs

Games: 7

Why: I think the pitching depth they have is strong. They’ve got a very good bullpen. I think their bats are working at the right time. I think Cleveland will make it very hard for them to win very easily because they can swing it as well.

Who to watch: Kyle Hendricks (Returning to pitch as he did in sixth game of the NLCS.) and Addison Russell (If he starts hitting the ball well, they’re pretty tough.) for Chicago and Francisco Lindor (Lindor’s their energy guy. He’s their defensive magician.) for Cleveland.

MVP: Kris Bryant

Chase Whitely (Ranburne, Rays)

Spent most of 2016 recovering from elbow ligament transplant surgery in 2015. Returned to Rays in Sept. and had a 2.51 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 15 strikeouts in 14.1 innings. Had 2.21 ERA and 1.10 whip with 32 strikeouts in 36.2 minor-league innings.

Winner: Cleveland Indians

Games: 6

Why: I like the momentum Cleveland’s got going now.

Who to watch: Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor. If either starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar is able to pitch, Cleveland’s chances improve even more.

MVP: Francisco Lindor