This article was originally featured in the latest edition of The Morning Mando.
I’m not great at making long-term sports predictions. But I don’t really think many people are, for that matter. For instance, pretty much every baseball pundit had the Nationals winning the World Series last year.
That said, I’m pretty confident that the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs are on a collision corse to meet in this year’s World Series. Chicago currently owns baseball’s best run differential by far. In fact, the difference between the Cubs and the second highest run differential (the Red Sox at +59) is the same difference between the Red Sox and the team with the ninth highest run differential, the Texas Rangers. And if you thought that was impressive, then know this: the Cubs currently rank first in hitting, first in starting pitching, and first in fielding according to Fangraphs. Sure, the National League is tough. But the Cubs are clearly the team to beat.
Though I’m less confident in the Red Sox making the Fall Classic than I am the Cubs, I’m not sure there is another team in the American League better than Boston. Similar to how the Cubs are stout in all three phases of the game, the Red Sox have the league’s second best offense, tenth best pitching staff, and seventh best defense as measured by Wins Above Replacement (WAR). The lone weakness for the Sox so far has been their starting pitching, but with David Price poised to improve over the second half of the season given his high strikeout rates and low Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), the Red Sox may become similarly dominant as the Cubs.
While negative stories concerning players taking banned substances, the increasing length of games, and new rule changes have put a cloud over baseball of late, a Red Sox/Cubs World Series is exactly what the game needs. The Cubs, if you’re unaware, haven’t won a World Series in a while. The intrigue as they get closer and closer to that long unawaited championship would be extraordinary. But if in their way was the Red Sox, a team who knows what it’s like to be cursed, then baseball would have a World Series matchup for the ages. This series would have everything: two teams with rich histories, exciting offenses, and dominant starting pitchers. On top of that, there’s added intrigue with this series possibly being David Ortiz’s last as well as the return of Jon Lester to Fenway Park to pitch against the team he helped lead to two titles.
With all due respect to teams like the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals, baseball needs a sexier matchup that will captivate America’s attention. Red Sox/Cubs is one of the very few, if not the only matchups that could do that. The beauty is that I think it is poised to happen.