Cubs Clear Favorite on Odds to Win World Series as MLB Playoffs Begin

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The way the end of the Major League Baseball regular season played out has caused some shuffling on the 2016 World Series champion futures board.

The Chicago Cubs retain the +225 top odds that they possessed entering the last week of the season, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Cubs, who led all of baseball with 103 wins, have had weeks to set up their rotation for a NLDS matchup between the  winner of Wednesday’s wild card game between the New York Mets (+1600) and San Francisco Giants (+2000).

Chicago also has a 27.6 percent chance of winning the World Series, tops in the league, entering the playoffs according to the simulations run by website PredictionMachine.com.

The Texas Rangers, who have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, are the second favorite at +500. The Rangers are an astounding 36-11 in one-run games, which could be their hole card in the postseason. Texas awaits the wild card game winner, either the Baltimore Orioles (+2000) or Toronto Blue Jays (+1200).

The Boston Red Sox are listed at +600 while the Cleveland Indians are at +800 in spite of having a potential extra home game in their ALDS showdown. The Red Sox went 19-10 after August 31 to win the AL East, while Cleveland went 16-13 in that span.

The set NLDS foes, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals, are also listed at +600. Two aces, Washington’s Max Scherzer and Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw, will likely go head-to-head in Game 1 and in a potential Game 5.

The Blue Jays are a -150 favorite against the +135 underdog Orioles in the AL wild card game on Tuesday. The total is 8.5. Toronto is 12-7 at home against Baltimore over the last two seasons. The total went over in 11 of those 19 games.

The Blue Jays are starting RHP Marcus Stroman, even though he has a 7.04 ERA in four starts this season vs. Baltimore, with a .344 opponents’ batting average. Toronto has LHP Nelson Liriano and RHP Marco Estrada available. Baltimore is throwing RHP Chris Tillman, who had a 3.63 ERA and .250 opponents’ average in four starts vs. Toronto.

The Orioles also have a near-untouchable closer with LHP Zach Britton.

The NL wild card game is a toss-up befitting a pitching showdown between LHP Madison Bumgarner and RHP Noah Syndergaard. Bumgarner’s San Francisco Giants are listed at -103, with Syndergaard’s New York Mets a razor-thin -107 favorite. The total is 6.0.

The Giants are 6-4 on the road against the Mets at Citi Field since 2014. The Giants are 5-1 against the Mets in Bumgarner starts. The lefty has handcuffed the Mets to the count of a 1.80 ERA and .189 batting average in those six starts. Syndergaard is 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA and .243 opponents’ average in three career starts against the Giants.

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.