If I could add some kind of blinking eyes emoji into the headline, I would have.
Now that rosters are mostly settled – the major pieces, I mean – FanGraphs has unveiled its first projected standings/playoff odds report, and the Chicago Cubs fare expectedly well. Not only do the Cubs project to win an unthinkable* 96.5 games, but their current playoff odds tally at 94.4%. To give that some mind-blowing context, the Cubs’ playoff odds in late August last year – when they had a 7.5-game lead on the Giants for the second Wild Card spot – were only slightly higher at 97.3%.
That’s right. According to FanGraphs’ projections and tabulations, the Cubs are nearly as likely right now to make the playoffs seven months from now as a very good team with a commanding Wild Card lead in late August.
Breaking things down further, the Cubs right now have an 83.6% chance of winning the NL Central (the Cardinals and Pirates come in at 9.3% and 6.9%, respectively), and a 52.7% chance of heading back to the NLCS. The model likes the Cubs a disproportionate amount in the playoffs, too, with a 31.2% chance of reaching the World Series and an 18.7% chance of winning it all.
Those numbers are just downright silly for February, but here we are. Of course, hopefully you take note that, even with absolutely silly playoff odds and projections, the Cubs are still given an 81.3% chance of not winning it all. Even for a fantastic team, losing in the end is still the default state. Don’t start expecting anything. Just enjoy the fun.
*(I guess it’s unthinkable because you can’t win half a game, but it’s also just an unthinkably high projection in February and March.)