After spending most of the season as the best team in baseball and favorites to win the World Series, the Cubs found a way to make themselves the underdog again.
Trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, the Cubs now have to win the final two games in Cleveland to win their first World Series in more than 100 years.
Doing so would be unlikely, but not impossible. Even if you think the Cubs are the better overall team, they’re still more likely than not to lose the series.
In our World Series simulator we gave the Cubs a 55 percent chance of winning a single game at Cleveland. To get the odds of that happening twice in a row, you’d multiply those chances together:
0.55 x 0.55 = 30 percent
The projections at Fangraphs and FiveThirtyEight come up with similar numbers, though FiveThirtyEight is less optimistic. The main difference is FiveThirtyEight’s model knows Cleveland ace Corey Kluber — who’s already beaten the Cubs twice in this series — would pitch Game 7, and our model doesn’t.
Baseball history supports these numbers, too. Of the 99 MLB series that have gone to 3-2, the team that’s ahead has won 70 percent of the time.
Still, even getting to this point was unlikely in a way. What’s one more series of improbable events?
Chris Hagan is a data reporter for WBEZ. Follow him @chrishagan.