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Cubs overwhelming early on

It might be time to party like it is 1908 in the Windy City. After 107 years of not winning the World Series – and in most years, not coming close – the Chicago Cubs look like the best team in the sport by a country mile.

Now, we have to remember that this is April 22. There is roughly another five months worth of baseball before we even get to the postseason. Last year, people were talking up the Houston Astros at this point, and they failed to even reach the American League Championship Series. The difference is Houston was shocking the world. Chicago was expected to be this good.

After 17 games, Joe Maddon’s club is 13-4 and absolutely rolling. Jake Arrieta pitched his second no-hitter since August on Thursday night, with the Cubs en route to beating the Cincinnati Reds by a 16-0 count. Chicago is only 4-2 at Wrigley Field but is dominating on the road, amassing a 9-2 record. Perhaps most impressive is the run differential, where the Cubs have a 105-38 advantage for a +67, easily the best in the sport. The next best belongs to the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals at +31, less than half Chicago’s number.

Before the season began, the Cubs were slated as 4-1 favorites in Las Vegas to win the World Series. While some thought that number was generous, it seems like Vegas was right on the money. Chicago had a great offseason thanks to the wizardry of general manager Theo Epstein, adding outfielder Jason Heyward, starting pitcher John Lackey and second baseman Ben Zobrist. Even with the season-ending knee injury to catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber, the lineup is as deep as any in baseball.

The other factor to consider is the rest of the sport. The American League is as bad as it has ever been. While the Kansas City Royals deserve ample respect as defending champions and two-time defending AL champs, they don’t have the roster of Chicago. The rest of the AL is a raging dumpster fire, with not one team likely to win more than 90 games unless you really love the Toronto Blue Jays.

The National League is much better with teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, Nationals and Cardinals boosting great rotations. Still, Chicago can match anybody in the postseason with Jon Lester, Arrieta and Lackey, along with a lineup that features Kris Bryant. Dexter Fowler, Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo and Zobrist.

There is a long way to go before we get anywhere close to the playoffs, but the Cubs are the surest bet of the bunch to be there when the smoke clears. Chicago will be nervous with the history looming and rightfully so, but this is the best Cubs team in over a century to grace the north side.

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