No team in baseball was more active this offseason than the Chicago Cubs. It seemed like every big name free agent was connected to the Cubbies, with many big names ultimately deciding to sign on with the club. Entering Spring Training, the Cubs are a massive +500 favorite to win the World Series, but are still competing in one of the most difficult divisions in baseball.
The Cubs went from a Wild Card team last season all the way to the NLCS, but they ended up being swept in that series by the New York Mets. As a result, history is not on the side of the Cubs as only two teams in the past 20 years have lost in a League Championship Series and won the World Series the following season.
But those numbers get even worse when looking at teams who are swept from the playoffs. In the past 20 years, 39 teams have been swept from the postseason, but only 13 of those teams have made the playoffs the following year. And no team that has been swept in either League Championship Series has made the playoffs or finished higher than third in their division.
Despite posting a 97-65 record last season, the Cubs finished behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central. The division won’t be any easier this season, but the many new acquisitions added to the growth of younger players could see the Cubs win their first NL Central crown since 2008.
Coming off a 97 win season, the Cubs have a season win total set at 92.5. That is a number the Cubbies have only managed to eclipse twice since the 1990, with last year and 2008 being the exception. However, four of the past five winners of the NL Central have eclipsed the 92.5 wins mark. So, if you’re tabbing the Cubs to win the division (-200), then you may want to think about taking the OVER on 92.5 wins as well.
The Cubs finished last season in the middle of the pack in most categories at the plate, but finished with a .244 batting average, which was the third-worst in MLB. Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward could help remedy that as they both finished with a higher batting average than anyone else in the starting lineup for the Cubs last season.
Chicago also gave their stellar pitching boost with the signing of John Lackey, who will likely slide into the third spot in the rotation. Lackey, who posted a 3.10 ERA during his two-year tenure with the Cardinals, will bring his steady arm to a team that had the third best ERA in baseball last season.
However, a World Series is not won in the offseason. History is littered with teams that went all-in during the offseason and were expected to compete for the World Series, but then faltered. Though this is a possibility with the Cubs, this is a team that supplemented an emerging young roster with veteran free agents that have proven to contribute no matter where they play.
|National League Pennant||+225|
|National League Central||-200|
Odds as of March 30 at Bovada