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The Cubs’ World Series Follow-Up Season Was Among the Better Ones in Recent Memory

Analysis and Commentary

You might not remember this, but the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series (people forget that), and followed it up with an NL Central title here in 2017.


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Interestingly, as Ken Rosenthal notes, that is a relatively rare occurrence in the recent past:

Of the 16 World Series winners this millennium, only 5(!) have gone on to win their division in the year following their championship title. That’s pretty nuts, and more support for the World Series hangover effect. The Cubs, then, are among a rare group of follow-up contenders who have a chance defending their crown.


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Of course, that distinction would be even more rare, as no team has won World Series titles back-to-back since the Yankees did it three times in a row back in 2000. And it hasn’t happened in the National League since the Reds did it in 1975 and 1976.

Even still, there are some other interesting follow-up facts about the Cubs 2017 regular season and where it stacks up among other World Series sequels.

For example, of the 112 World Series winners since 1903, only 50 have followed up their season with more wins than the Cubs 92 (four others tied it). Similarly, and because of the schedule increases over the years, 64 teams followed up their World Series win with a winning percentage in the following season better than the Cubs .568 mark in 2017.


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And while that may seem like a lot, I’ll point out that it’s heavily weighted towards the older years (before the start of free agency). If you go back to, say, 1978 (just two years after MLB Free Agency started), you’ll find that only 11 teams had a better winning percentage in their WS follow-up season than the Cubs did in 2017.

So, while this iteration of the Cubs has not quite posted an elite World Series follow-up season, they’re certainly one of the better ones in recent memory. And that changes our perspective a bit, doesn’t it? In other words, you can call it a “hangover,” or whatever you want, but – for some reason – great teams have historically struggled to follow up their World Series titles with especially good seasons the next year.

At 92-70 with an NL Central title in tow, I’d say the Cubs followed up their World Series win with a very good season.


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.