Commentary: The MLB playoffs can’t be predicted

In this Aug. 31, 2016, file photo, Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant follows through on a solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, in Chicago. Bryant, Bryce Harper and Big Papi are just a few of the big-name offensive stars leading their teams into the postseason. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
Kris Bryant admires a solo home run he hit on Aug. 31. Bryant has played a large part in the Cubs’ offense this year. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

With 103 wins in the 2016 regular season, the Chicago Cubs are the best team in baseball. They stormed into the playoffs, running away with the National League Central Division. The stakes and the hopes are high, especially for a team that hasn’t won the World Series in 108 years.

This Cubs’ team seems like the best bet for the streak to be broken. After all, they have won the most games in franchise history since 1910 and hit 100 wins for the first time since 1935. They had high expectations after their National League Championship Series appearance last year, and have met and exceeded those expectations.

But still, they could lose in the National League Divisional Series to the San Francisco Giants and have their season largely forgotten in the annals of baseball history.

The MLB playoffs are a crapshoot. Very rarely does the best team actually win the World Series. Only three times in the past 10 years has the team with the best record won it all. Mostly it’s about the team that gets hot at the right time, like the 83-79 St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, or the 88-74 San Francisco Giants in 2014.

The Cubs might get hot at the right time, or maybe they’ll go cold at the wrong moment and their 2016 season might flame out in the playoffs. That doesn’t mean their season is a failure, however, and a World Series cannot be the expectation from the fan base. The only thing the fans can do is watch the games through their fingers as the playoffs commence.

There’s a huge expectation for this team, with the pressure of 108 years without a World Series win on their backs. What this team has done this season, however, should pacify the expectations for the Cubs. They won 103 games, which is some of the best baseball we’ve seen in Chicago in nearly a century. They did this after losing their starting catcher Kyle Schwarber early in the season. They ran away with the division after losing their star player. That’s incredible.

They brought excitement back to the Chicago baseball scene. After they went to the NLCS last year, there were big expectations for the team’s next season and they met them. For a city that has had teams fall so short of their expectations in the past, having a team rise up to meet and exceed the expectations is a big reason why fans should be thankful for this team.

Addison Russell celebrates a run in a game against the Reds in September. (John Minchillo/AP)
Addison Russell celebrates a run in a game against the Reds in September. (John Minchillo/AP)

The Cubs might win the World Series, or they might fall short. That’s the magic of the playoffs, where a team can sneak into the Wild Card game and make a run. Sometimes teams like the Cubs can get caught in the path of the red, hot team. Or sometimes, teams like the Cubs, will be that red-hot team that makes it all the way off the backs of a great regular season.

The best way to win a World Series is to get to the playoffs year after year until the team finally gets the crown. The Cubs are built to do that for the foreseeable future. They are in a position to give themselves the best opportunity to win, either this year, or the next year.

So don’t be upset if they don’t win the World Series this year. Maybe it just wasn’t their year. It’s a tired phrase to say “Wait ‘till next year!” in this town, but the Cubs are in a position to make the next few years exciting, with a possible World Series crown at the end of the line.