The Cubs’ season could really go either way based on the first playoff odds of spring training from BetOnline.AG, which give the team a 50 percent chance of returning to the postseason this year. The numbers, which were released Wednesday, underscore the lack of certainty over whether the North Siders can make it back to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.
The depth of the competition in the National League Central appears to be fueling the oddsmakers’ choices. No team in the division has better than a 50 percent chance of making the postseason, and no team has lower than 18.9 percent odds.
It’s fair to say that the division could stack up in pretty much any order without it being all that surprising, which should at least make for an exciting regular season.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Cubs: 50 percent
- Cardinals: 50 percent
- Brewers: 39.1 percent
- Pirates: 18.9 percent
- Reds: 18.9 percent
This isn’t to say that the oddsmakers lack confidence in every big league team. Five teams are given better than 80 percent odds to reach the playoffs: the Astros (88.2 percent), Dodgers (86.4 percent), Yankees (84.2 percent), Indians (84.2 percent) and Red Sox (81.1 percent). It doesn’t look like they expect much suspense in the American League.
But as we’ve seen this spring, there’s been some uncertainty over whether the Cubs can continue their run after a quiet offseason.
Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA recently projected the team to finish last in the NL Central with just 80 wins. On the flip side, CBS Sports’ model recently projected them for 89 wins. FanGraphs is a little lower than that with a projected 87 wins for Joe Maddon’s squad. So you can see how the oddsmakers would look at all the information and come away thinking that the one thing we know about the Cubs’ chances right now is that we don’t know much.
White Sox fans may want to hold out a bit of hope, too. They’re pegged with an 11.8 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, which might not seem great, but is actually third in the AL Central ahead of the Tigers and Royals. There’s a chance!