The Chicago Cubs entered the 2016 MLB season as World Series favorites, and with the All-Star break fast approaching, the team has exceeded expectations. Having not won a championship since 1908, the Cubs have the best record in baseball with the best odds to win this year’s Fall Classic.

More than halfway through the regular season, Chicago’s 51-27 record looks like it will assure them a spot in the postseason. They have an 11-game lead in the National League Central over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals, and the Cubs are 2.5 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants for the top spot in the NL.

Oddsmakers at have Chicago listed as the favorites to win the World Series with +325 beting odds. That’s even better than the +500 odds the Cubs had to start the season.

There was plenty of optimism heading into the 2016 season, following the team’s exit in the 2015 NLCS. After spending money on free agents like Jason Heyward and John Lackey, Chicago looked to be even better than the team that won 97 games a year ago.

Even after losing outfielder Kyle Schwarber at the start of the season, Chicago has been baseball’s best team for basically the entire year. Third baseman Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo are two of baseball’s best young hitters, and they lead a lineup that ranks third in MLB in runs. Second baseman Ben Zobrist has been arguably the best addition from this past offseason, ranking third in the NL with a .409 on-base percentage.

Chicago Cubs The Chicago Cubs are on pace to win 107 games. Photo: Getty

But it’s been Chicago’s pitching that has really put them ahead of the other 14 NL teams. They have MLB’s best ERA at 2.86, creating a sizeable gap between themselves and the Washington Nationals’ No.2-ranked pitching staff, which has a 3.33 ERA.

Following his 2015 Cy Young campaign, Jake Arrieta continues to be dominant. But the rest of the rotation has been as good as anyone could have expected. Jon Lester’s ERA (2.03 to 2.10) and WHIP (0.97 to 1.02) are a shade better than Arrieta's. Both Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks have sub-3.00 ERAs, and John Lackey has allowed two runs or fewer in eight of his last 11 starts.

Chicago has cooled off somewhat after their hot start. Prior to their recent three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, the Cubs had lost six of seven. A few teams have records that are comparable to Chicago's, but none of them have been nearly as dominant.

With the best mark in the American League (51-29), the Texas Rangers have the second-best World Series odds at +550. But the Rangers don’t have a top-five offense or a top-10 pitching staff, and their run differential (plus-55) is just sixth-best in all of baseball.

The Cubs have outscored their opponents by 169 runs, easily giving them the best mark in MLB. The Cleveland Indians are second at plus-94, and they have the fifth-best World Series odds at +900. The San Francisco Giants (plus-59) and Washington Nationals (plus-84), rank third and fourth, respectively, in terms of championship odds.

2016 World Series Odds 

Chicago Cubs +325

Texas Rangers +550

San Francisco Giants +650

Washington Nationals +900

Cleveland Indians +900

Baltimore Orioles +1200

Boston Red Sox +1400

Toronto Blue Jays +1800

New York Mets +1800

Los Angeles Dodgers +2000

Houston Astros +2000

Kansas City Royals +2500

St. Louis Cardinals +3300

Miami Marlins +3300

Detroit Tigers +3300

Seattle Mariners +4000

Chicago White Sox +5000

New York Yankees +6600

Pittsburgh Pirates +6600

Arizona Diamondbacks +12500

Colorado Rockies +12500

Los Angeles Angels +15000

Tampa Bay Rays +15000

Oakland Athletics +30000

Philadelphia Phillies +50000

San Diego Padres +50000

Milwaukee Brewers +50000

Minnesota Twins +200000

Atlanta Braves +200000

Cincinnati Reds +200000