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Chicago Cubs Increase Lead at Top of 2016 World Series Futures

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The Chicago Cubs’ lead on the 2016 World Series odds resembles an astronaut’s view of earth seconds after blast-off, which means it’s a good time to point out that the team with the best record in Major League Baseball seldom wins it all in the fall.

Only six times in the past 30 years has the team with the most regular-season victories proceeded to win the World Series. Yet it is hard to not to be bullish on the Cubs, who have top odds to win the World Series at +325 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, well ahead of the Washington Nationals (+800), San Francisco Giants (+850), and Boston Red Sox (+900).

The Cubs have roughly twice as big a run differential as the next-most dominant National League team, Washington. Their top four starting pitchers, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jason Hammel, each have earned-run averages of fewer than 3.00, and deep starting pitching is a big advantage in the lower-scoring environment of postseason baseball.

The Giants have won the NL pennant and World Series in the last three even-numbered seasons (2010, ’12 and ’14). The Giants can match or surpass the front end of most teams’ starting pitching with LHP Madison Bumgarner and two tough RHP, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, a former Cub.

The Red Sox will have a fight for playoff position in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays (+1400) and Baltimore Orioles (+1800). Boston far and away leads MLB in runs scored with their pick-your-poison lineup of RF Mookie Betts, 2B Dustin Pedroia, SS Xander Bogaerts, DH David Ortiz and 1B Hanley Ramirez.

The NL East’s 1A and 1B teams are the New York Mets (+1400) and the Nationals. The Mets are struggling to keep pace with the Nationals, but 2015 playoff pitching hero Matt Harvey is beginning to find his form after an awful start to the season.

The Nationals have shown good balance so far. Their 1-2 pitching punch of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are matching each other strikeout for strikeout, while 1B Ryan Zimmerman and 2B Daniel Murphy have consistently cashed in RBI opportunities when teams pitch around reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper.

The Texas Rangers, at +1000, have the second-best odds among AL teams. The Rangers lack star power, notwithstanding the table-setting from No. 2 hitter and CF Ian Desmond. Texas is outperforming their Pythagorean projection (a tool that predicts a team’s record based on run differential).

Their AL West rival, the Seattle Mariners, are now up to +1800 and have been winning games by large spreads thanks to a lineup built around 2B Robinson Cano and DH Nelson Cruz.

Cubs overwhelming favorite for 2017 World Series futures

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No team has won back-to-back World Series since the turn of the millennium, but the Chicago Cubs are favored to do so after ending their 108-year drought earlier this month.

The Cubs opened 2016 at the top of the board and delivered by winning three elimination games in a row to defeat the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs will return almost all of their nucleus except for free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman, so it is no surprise that Chicago is at the top of the 2017 World Series odds at +350 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

With utilityman Javier Baez, 3B Kris Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo, SS Addison Russell and LF Kyle Schwarber all in their peak years, Chicago is well set up to be postseason regulars for years on end.

Only the 1998-2000 New York Yankees have gone back-to-back during the 22-season postseason history of the wild-card era. The afterglow of the Cubs winning has probably inflated the prices for other contenders. The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are each listed at +900.

The Red Sox will have five everyday players who will age 28 or younger next season and are rumored to be the landing spot for free-agent DH Edwin Encarnacion, who has turned down a qualifying offer from the rival Toronto Blue Jays.

The Dodgers won the NL West last season even though ace LHP Clayton Kershaw missed a third of the season, so clearly their ceiling could be even higher than last season’s 91 wins.

The Washington Nationals are listed at +1200, on the presumption that they might eventually have a bullpen to buttress the star power of RF Bryce Harper and RHP Max Scherzer.

Washington’s prospectus will change if they go against their emphasis on starting pitching and get in on the bidding war for one of the four prized free-agent closers – Chapman, Greg Holland, Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon.

Despite coming within one run of winning the World Series, Cleveland is listed at +1400 along with Toronto, the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants.

It seems strange to see the New York Yankees well down the board at +2500, but the Yankees are still in belt-tightening mode and are unlikely to add more payroll.

Best moments from the Chicago Cubs World Series parade

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It’s time.

Chicago Cubs fans waited for more than 100 years to celebrate bringing a title back to Wrigley Field and they wasted no time securing a spot to watch the parade.

Don’t get mad Blackhawks fans, but this was the biggest parade that the city of Chicago has seen since Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

And it lived up to expectations.

Even Grant Park, where the Cubs will be ending their parade, was packed before the parade started.

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Other Cubs fans took to the great outdoors to conduct their parade.

Chicago’s well known for dying its river green on St. Patrick’s Day, but today, it’s blue.

In an incredible twist of irony, Chicago Public schools were scheduled to be closed on Nov. 4th anyway for a school improvement day, but some schools in the Chicagoland area were still given the opportunity to participate in the festivities thanks to a really cool principal.

On the buses, Anthony Rizzo was amped, while team grandpa David Ross discovered how to take a pretty well done selfie.

(Update: Kris Bryant is still wearing the belt.)

Travis Wood just got a little too excited.

Veteran pitcher Jon Lester has been through enough World Series parades to know that when they tell you to sit, there’s probably a good reason.

Walter Payton’s son, Jarrett, found a warm (and rather spacious) spot to watch the parade.

The intro of the day goes to play-by-play man Pat Hughes, who summed up exactly what all Cubs fans are thinking.

“Did anybody go to work today? Did anybody go to school today? Your teachers and bosses are all here, too.”

Theo Epstein reflected on the Cubs’ season and what this World Series meant to the team in an emotional speech at Grant Park. He mentioned that the rain delay during Game 7 was a big deal for the squad, and after introducing Joe Maddon, he relayed that he’s going to continue on his bender.

The Cubs manager also wore a “We Did Not Suck” shirt.

Miguel Montero and Jon Lester kept it short and sweet. Montero just said, “We Are Good!” and Lester called for more cheers for David Ross.

MVP Ben Zobrist spoke a bit longer, giving credit to Anthony Rizzo for playing Rocky movies all week long and David Ross for inspiring the team when the Cubs were down 3-1.

Anthony Rizzo gave credit to nearly every person associated with the Cubs, even giving the final out to owner Tom Ricketts. The most touching moment of the speeches was when the first baseman got emotional when introducing catcher David Ross.

Grandpa Ross revved up the crowd with a major CHICAGO, thanked his family, and then did the most millennial thing of all time.

He took a selfie with the crowd.

We made it through nearly the entire parade before we found the Cubs’ J.R. Smith: Travis Wood, who lost his shirt as Brett Eldredge closed out the event with a rousing rendition of “Go Cubs Go”.

For a celebration 108 years in the making, a turnout of 5 million people is tremendous.

Enjoy it, Chicago.