Can the Chicago Cubs return to the postseason in a 50-game season?
On Wednesday, MLB owners officially rejected the MLBPA’s proposal for a 114-game schedule, as expected. Does that mean no Chicago Cubs this year? Not necessarily. The owners stated that they don’t plan to counter, but rather, the league will have private conversations with owners regarding a shortened season.
Earlier this week, we learned that the owners much preferred a shorter year, like 50 games shorter, which would essentially be a sprint to the finish line with no room for error.
After four years of making the postseason, which included three trips to the NLCS and a World Series title, the Cubs missed the postseason last year for the first time since 2014. The talent is certainly still there, but now under rookie manager David Ross, the Cubs are in danger of seeing their window of contention closing.
Under normal circumstances, the Cubs were pegged to win 85 games in 2020, according to Fangraphs, which oddly enough would have won the NL Central. However, should the owners and MLBPA agree on a 50-game season, let’s see how the north siders would have faired in the last five years.
Per the figure above, the Cubs should have easily made the playoffs last year, which hurts to see how they collapsed down the stretch. The had better odds in 2018 than 2019 to make the postseason after the first 50 games, but again, they failed to secure the Central title and lost in the Wild Card round.
Obviously, everything went right for the Cubs in 2016 on their way to their first World Series Championship since 1908. And we had to expect that they would come out sluggishly in 2017, a hangover if you will.
Through the first 50 games, they were at .500 with just a 30 percent chance to make the postseason, and if you recall, they made their third consecutive trip to the NLCS. Now facing an unknown future with several of their key players, 2020 could be their last true shot.
So if there is a season, the Cubs will have to finish with a 27-23 record, at worst. An interesting tidbit here, the Nationals were 19-31 at the 50-game mark last year.