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The Chicago Cubs Are Not the 2017 World Series Favorites

Cubs fans are hoping for a repeat of last year’s dream season, but the numbers suggest the Dodgers are the true World Series favorites.

By Dylan SvobodaPublished 7 years ago 3 min read
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Heading into the 2017 season one thing is clear: Vegas loves the Chicago Cubs’ odds at winning back-to-back World Series’. According to the Vegas based sports betting website Bovada, the loveable losers from Chicago have the best odds at winning the 2017 World Series at +400. Followed by the Boston Red Sox at +500. Then the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians at +800. Given how well the North Siders have performed over the last two seasons and how well Theo Epstein has the team set up for the future, +400 odds doesn’t sound too crazy. I’d argue that it is crazy and the real favorite has the same odds as the San Francisco Giants and the Houston Astros at +1400, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It is hard to imagine someone like Clayton Kershaw being undervalued, but it turns out he is just that. According to Fangraphs’ Depth Charts, the left-hander is projected for 7.7 fWAR (wins above replacement), the highest total this side of Mike Trout. The average fan doesn’t realize just how much extra value this provides. Sure, the Chicago Cubs trot out the likes of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant but neither comes within even two fWAR of what Clayton Kershaw is projected. Kershaw and a bunch of league average starting pitchers would be one of the best starting rotations in baseball. When you add in Rich Hill, twenty-year old sensation Julio Urias, and incredible depth in Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, Jose De Leon, and Ross Stripling, it becomes the strongest pitching team in baseball by far.

That depth stretches beyond just the starting rotation, the offensive side of the ball sees the same strength. At nearly every position there is someone coming off the bench who is capable of starting elsewhere in baseball. Back-up outfield Andrew Toles posted a 132 wRC (weighted runs created) while providing outstanding defense in his debut 2016 season. Back-up catcher Austin Barnes is projected for 1.0 fWAR in just 250 plate appearances. To much frustration, Andre Either could probably be a designated hitter for a few American League clubs but instead is stuck in a bench role with the Dodgers. Depth is often overlooked when it comes to valuing a team and it’s invaluable when injuries come up equally as often. Players need days off. The Dodgers are the best when it comes filling in with players who will provide real, starter-level value rather than replacement performance.

The Dodgers position player unit is no slouch when it comes to the top either. Corey Seager became one of the best players in baseball in his breakout 2016 season, and he does it at the shortstop position. Justin Turner is quietly one of the best third basemen in baseball. Yasmani Grandal, even more quietly, is one of the best catchers in the game, and is the second best starting catcher when it comes to framing according to Baseball Prospectus. There is a wide range of outcomes when it comes to outfielders Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson but it's not hard to see both of them breaking out into the superstar outfielders they were expected to be. The depth and mix of high end talent makes them competitive when comparing their position player unit to the juggernaut that is the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers are projected for the best bullpen in baseball according to Fangraphs’ Depth Charts, even better than the Yankees, headed by the re-acquired Aroldis Chapman. Kenley Jansen provides a huge chunk of the value but the lesser known Grant Dayton is expected to take on a huge role. He is projected for 1.6 fWAR in 65 innings, a higher number than Cody Allen and Mark Melancon. What the projections miss is the opportunity for the Dodgers to use their starting pitcher depth as bullpen help. If they go this avenue, their bullpen will be even stronger.

Overall, the Los Angeles Dodgers are projected for 52.8 fWAR compared to the Cubs’ 51.7 fWAR. The stat-heads have spoken and the Los Angeles Dodgers are the 2017 World Series favorite, no matter what Vegas says. The Dodgers may not have as much flash as the Chicago Cubs or even the Boston Red Sox for that matter, but they are the team best positioned to win the World Series.


About the Creator

Dylan Svoboda

Writer for the Unbalanced, BP Milwaukee, BP Toronto, and Beyond the Box Score. History/Writing student at UC Davis. Sacramento, California.

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