With a youthful core and having put to end a World Series championship drought that dated back to 1908, the Cubs are certainly in position to claim back-to-back titles.Their roster underwent only a couple adjustments.Albert Almora Jr., the No. 3 prospect in the Cubs' system as ranked by MLBPipeline.com at
With a youthful core and having put to end a World Series championship drought that dated back to 1908, the Cubs are certainly in position to claim back-to-back titles.
Their roster underwent only a couple adjustments.
Albert Almora Jr., the No. 3 prospect in the Cubs' system as ranked by MLBPipeline.com at the end of the 2016 season, will get the shot to claim the center-field job vacated when William Fowler signed a free-agent deal with the Cardinals. The Cubs also signed free agent Jonathan Jay to provide protection.
Closer Albertin Chapman returned to the Yankees as a free agent, but the Cubs acquired a replacement, Wade Davis, from the Royals for outfielder Jorge Soler. Mike Montgomery will get a chance to return to a starting role in place of Jason Hammel, who had an option the Cubs declined to exercise.
But the Cubs do open Spring Training on Tuesday with some historical odds to beat if they are going to repeat.
There have been only 14 teams to win multiple World Series championships in consecutive seasons. The Yankees have done it six times (1998-2000, 1961-62, 1949-53, 1936-39 and 1927-28). In the American League, the A's also won back-to-back titles in 1910-11, 1929-30 and 1972-74, the Red Sox in 1915-16 and the Blue Jays in 1992-93. A National League team has won back-to-back World Series only three times -- the Reds in 1975-76, the Giants in 1921-22 and the Cubs in 1907-08.
There has not been a team to repeat since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000. In the 21st century, 11 teams have combined to win the 16 World Series. The teams with multiple titles in this century are the Giants (2010, '12 and '14), Red Sox (2004, '07 and '13) and Cardinals (2006, '11).
In the NL Division Series, NL Championship Series and World Series, the Cubs played 17 postseason games last year -- one shy of the record for games played. Since the expansion of the postseason to include the Division Series, there have been 22 teams play at least 16 postseason games, including 13 that won the World Series.
None of the 21 prior to the Cubs has won the World Series the next year. Only two even advanced to the World Series the next year. The Yankees won the World Series in 2000 and lost in '01, and the Rangers lost the World Series in 2010 and '11. Eleven of the 21 did not even return to the postseason the next year.
Cubs pitchers worked 155 innings last postseason, tied for the fifth most postseason innings in history. Of the previous 26 teams to work more than 134 postseason innings, only one has won a World Series (the Royals in 2015), and only two others advanced to the World Series (the Rangers in '11 and the Yankees in '01). Eleven of those 26 teams did not get back to the postseason the next year -- the Giants (2001, '12 and '14), the Marlins (1997, 2003), the Dodgers (1981), the Angels (2002), the Astros ('05), the Rays ('08), the Red Sox (2013) and the Royals ('15).
The Cubs only hit .233 in the postseason last year, the 48th lowest average among 57 teams to play at least 11 postseason games since 1995. The only team to hit lower than .233 and win a World Series championship since '95 was the 2013 Red Sox (.227, 51th).
Only four teams have advanced back to the Fall Classic after playing seven games the previous World Series. The Yankees beat the Dodgers in seven games in 1952 and in six games in '53. The A's beat the Reds in seven games in 1972, the Mets in seven games in '73 and then the Dodgers in five games in '74. The Reds beat the Red Sox in seven games in 1975 and swept the Yankees in '76.
Could the White Sox have a season to celebrate? There have been seven times that teams from the same city won back-to-back World Series: 1906 White Sox and '07 Cubs; 1914 Braves and '15 Red Sox; 1922 Giants and '23 Yankees; 1953 Yankees and '54 Giants; 1954 Giants and '55 Dodgers; and 1955 Dodgers and '56 Yankees.
The Cubs put their longest-in-baseball World Series drought to rest. Who is next? The Indians have the longest current streak without winning a World Series, dating back to 1948, having lost in the World Series in '54, '95, '97 and 2016. And then there are the Brewers, Astros, Rockies, Nationals, Padres and Rays, who have never won a World Series. The Nationals, who were created as the Expos in 1969, and Mariners, a product of the AL expansion in '77, have never even played in a World Series.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.