If we didn’t already know, it has become clear the past few years — if not obvious during the past week — that the road to the World Series goes through Chicago.
Not that it happens a lot there.
But it definitely seems to start there.
Just ask the Atlanta Braves, Joc Pederson and Jorge Soler — after the underdogs from the NL East and their two ex-Cubs beat the Astros Tuesday night for Atlanta’s first championship since 1995.
Or ask the Cardinals, Giants, Red Sox, Royals, Cubs, Ryan Theriot, Jake Peavy and Ben Zobrist.
Just four players since 1992 have each won back-to-back World Series with two different teams, and all launched the feat with assists from the Cubs or White Sox — except Zobrist, the Eureka native who actually completed his pair with the Cubs in 2016 after winning with the Royals in ’15.
Want to win a World Series? There’s the new formula for success for baseball’s smart-guy front offices.
Theriot started his two-year run with the Cards and Giants (2011, ’12) the year after the Cubs traded him. Peavy (Red Sox, Giants) started his when the Sox traded him to Boston at the 2013 deadline. And Pederson took a four-month fuel stop with the Cubs this season after winning last year with the Dodgers, then got traded to the Braves in July.
Even Jack Morris, originally drafted by the Tigers, made his big-league debut in Chicago, which explains what eventually led to him winning back-to-back championships with the Twins in 1991 and Blue Jays in 1992 — the last player to do it before those four others.
So who wants to be a champion next year?
Whoever signs Joctober and his pearl necklace.
With that in mind, NBC Sports Chicago commissioned a survey by acclaimed polling service “Twitter” to help predict Pederson’s next landing spot and, in turn, the next World Series champion.
And wouldn’t you know?
After nearly 18 hours of polling and expert analysis, look what the science said about Pederson and the next champ:
The Chicago White Sox.
That’s right. Chicago.
It was close: 30 percent, compared to a 28-percent likelihood it’ll be the Giants landing him and winning, with a 27-percent possibility the Padres will pull it off.
But know this: You can be confident taking the rent money straight to the bookie with that one.
The history and science behind this doesn’t get more reliable.
That’s why we also asked “Twitter” to run some more of its special algorithm magic on two more weighty issues for Cubs fans this winter.
First: Who should the Cubs bring back as a free agent among all those successful ex-Cubs that helped their teams reach the Final 4 in October?
This time it was Kyle Schwarber in a 2-1 landslide over World Series MVP Jorge Soler.
Schwarbombs and Jagermeisters for Opening Day anyone?
Are you reading these “Twitter” metrics, Jed Hoyer?
Go ahead, plug the floppy disks we sent you through the Cubs’ Ivy system and see for yourself.
Meanwhile, the final, biggest question of the winter for Cubs fans — where stud World Series shortstop Carlos Correa should sign as a free agent — already has been answered, too.
And wouldn’t you know?
Our advanced predictive models give the Cubs a 50-percent chance of landing what many believe is the premier shortstop in a market stacked at his position — the Yankees coming in a distant second (24 percent).
So Pederson and the White Sox get a parade next year, and the Cubs get the best shortstop on the market — along with Kyle Schwarber.
No doubt about it.
It’s just science.