Cubs Could Clinch Division Tonight... But Odds Say Don't Get Too Excited

By Stephen Gossett in News on Sep 15, 2016 5:49PM

2016_09_chicagocubs.jpg
A Cubs superfan at Marlins Park in June (Getty Images)

The Cubs have the chance to do something tonight they haven’t done in eight years: clinch the Central Division title. They would do so with a win on Thursday night over the visiting Brewers. Making the anticipation even sweeter, the Small Bears were able to reduce their magic number down to one courtesy of an emphatic drubbing of the hated St. Louis Cardinals last night. (Jon Lester pitched eight shutout innings in the 7-0 rout.)

Needless to say, people are lit. So it seemed like a good time to check in again on the Cubs’ current odds of winning the World Series, and, well, there’s good news and—true to form—a good amount of cold water to throw on all that promise.

On the good side, the Cubs are the clear favorites to win it all this year. Their odds of winning their first World Series since 1908 (perhaps you’ve heard talk of curses?) is double that of their closest competitor, the Boston Red Sox. They will certainly make the playoffs and they will almost certainly win the division.

CubsFans.jpg
Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

However, even as the favorites, the Cubs’ chances for postseason success remain relatively low. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Cubs currently have just a 22 percent chance of going the distance. That’s significantly higher than the field, but certainly far from prohibitive. Of course, it speaks less to the Cubs’ historic knack for futility or any present-day shortcomings (dig that mammoth +255 run differential) and more to the MLB playoffs being a total crapshoot. Like the NCAA tournament, its that randomness that makes it fun—and leads to so much heartache at the same time.

Still, as FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver pointed out, there’s a more-likely-than-not chance that something once considered highly unlikely will come to pass:


The formerly Chicago-based Silver and other FiveThirtyEight writers will be back in town for a live taping of their Elections Podcast. It goes down October 7 at the Athenaeum Theatre. You can take it up with him there—maybe ask about burritos, too.