The Chicago Cubs won the World Series — something once completely unthinkable. They were down 3-1 in the World Series, storming back to force Game 7 against the Cleveland Indians. Tied heading into the bottom of the ninth in Cleveland, Chicago held the Indians at bay and took the lead in the 10th. But it’s not just about the 2016 Cubs. Going into 2017, the Cubs will be well set to defend their title. Here are five reasons the Cubs might repeat as World Series champions.
1. Most of the team will return
The major free agents from the Cubs’ 2016 roster: outfielder Dexter Fowler, catcher David Ross, starting pitcher Jason Hammel, and relievers Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, and Aroldis Chapman. Fowler moved to the St. Louis Cardinals; Ross retired; Hammel and Wood went to the Kansas City Royals; Cahill moved to the San Diego Padres; and Chapman joined the New York Yankees. Those six players combined for 8.3 WAR last season — a decent amount of wins primarily through Fowler’s 4.2 WAR.
Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and other core members of the team will return to the field with the Cubs next season. Even if Theo Epstein and the Cubs’ front office doesn’t make major additions, the team that returns is probably good for 90-plus regular-season wins on its own.