We’re transitioning from the unbridled joy of the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 season-long Hollywood story, and pining more and more for spring training to begin already. As currently constructed, the 2017 Cubs seem to be a match for just about any other team on paper, but while they are well-positioned to at least make the playoffs, guaranteeing a championship repeat is a different story:
“The primary reason why it’s hard to repeat is just because it’s really difficult to win the World Series,” Epstein said. “In any given year, if you’re any old team, you have a 3-percent chance. If you’re the best team, you might have, you know, a 10- or 12-percent chance. So it’s just hard to do. But there are things that get in the way.”
Theo is right about baseball being a difficult game, and therefore it being a difficult task to get to, much less win, the World Series. There is already plenty of debate as to whether, say, the Los Angeles Dodgers or the American League champion Cleveland Indians are better teams on paper than the Cubs. This Beyond the Box Score article does agree with my early season assessment (from April!) that the Cubs are very well-positioned not just this year, but for many years to come, to keep making the playoffs and possibly get more shots at ultimate glory.
The odds may change ever so slightly or significantly, depending on surprise (!) trades or signings during spring training, injuries, or what have you. But if you really wanted to drop a bet on the Cubs, it seems that Las Vegas really likes their odds to go deep into the playoffs yet again with the current available information. One site has the Cubs edging the Boston Red Sox in the odds, 11/4 to 11/2, to repeat as champions.
If you’re interested in money lines, the Odds Shark has the following:
- Cubs are -303 (as in you have to plop down $303 to win $100) to win the National League Central division, the best odds among all projected division winners.
- Cubs are +150 (I believe that means you win either $50 or $150 if you drop $100) to win the NL pennant, again the best odds among all MLB teams.
- Finally, Cubs are +280 to +450 to repeat as World Series champions, either leading the odds or at least tied with the Red Sox.
We’ve often talked about how close to a coin flip baseball is over a short seven-game series, so the fact that Vegas (and most projection systems, including PECOTA, who hates the Cubs apparently) is confident in the Cubs locking up a playoff spot already increases the odds from 0% to some non-zero number. It remains to be seen whether the Cubs can beat out the Dodgers for home field advantage, but with baseball, all you have to do is get to the dance. So if you have disposable income and are feeling lucky, this is about as safe of a bet as you can make. It’ll just take about eight months to see if you actually win.
UPDATE 2/28: Still a very safe bet…
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) March 1, 2017
UPDATE 4/1: Not a joke:
Vegas oddsmakers like the Cubs’ shot at repeating. https://t.co/4zcR8H2dDI
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 1, 2017
Pretty good odds if you do insist on making a wager.