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Can The Cubs Win 97 Games Again In 2016?

The Cubs have won that many games only twice in the last 70 years.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

How hard is it to win 97 or more games two or more years in a row? Take it away, Wash:

The Cubs unexpectedly won 97 games in 2015, becoming the best third-place team in major-league history. They've added pitching and hitting help and should expect that their young players will continue to improve. But can they win that many games again?

Here are all the teams since the 162-game schedule was put in place in 1961 to win 97 or more games for two (or more) consecutive seasons, and where they finished the year, arranged by franchise and then the year.

Angels 2008 100 Lost ALCS
Angels 2009 97 Lost ALDS
Astros 1998 102 Lost NLDS
1999 97 Lost NLDS
Athletics 1988 104 Lost World Series
Athletics 1989 99 Won World Series
Athletics 1990 103 Lost World Series
Athletics 2001 102 Lost ALDS
Athletics 2002
103 Lost ALDS
Braves 1992 98 Lost World Series
Braves 1993 104 Lost NLCS
Braves 1997 101
Braves 1998 106 Lost NLCS
Braves 1999 103 Lost World Series
Braves 2002 101 Lost NLDS
Braves 2003 101 Lost NLDS
Cardinals 2004 105 Lost World Series
2005 100 Lost NLCS
Dodgers 1962 102 Missed playoffs *
Dodgers 1963 99 Won World Series
Indians 1995
100 Lost World Series
1996 99 Lost ALDS
1985 98 Missed playoffs
Mets 1986 108 Won World Series
Orioles 1969
109 Lost World Series
Orioles 1970
103 Won World Series
Orioles 1971 101 Lost World Series
Red Sox
1977 97 Missed playoffs
Red Sox
99 Missed playoffs *
Reds 1973 99 Lost NLCS
Reds 1974 98 Missed playoffs
Reds 1975 108 Won World Series
Reds 1976 102 Won World Series
Twins 1969 97 Lost ALCS
1970 98
Yankees 1963 104 Lost World Series
Yankees 1964 99 Lost World Series
Yankees 1976 97 Lost World Series
Yankees 1977 100 Won World Series
Yankees 1978 100 Won World Series
Yankees 1998
114 Won World Series
Yankees 1999 99 Won World Series
Yankees 2002 103 Lost ALDS
Yankees 2003 101 Lost World Series
Yankees 2004
101 Lost ALCS
Phillies 1976 101 Lost NLCS
Phillies 1977 101 Lost NLCS
Phillies 2010 97 Lost NLCS
Phillies 2011 102 Lost NLDS

(Note: the two teams listed with an asterisk finished tied for first place in the regular season and lost tiebreakers.)

49 individual teams representing 14 different franchises have accomplished this feat. Many of them are famous runs of teams that we might label as "dynasties." Even at that, some of these teams got farther in the postseason with "lesser" teams. The 1997 Indians got back to the World Series (and lost it in agonizing fashion) with an 86-win regular-season club. The Braves' sole World Series-winning team in their 14-year playoff run was a 90-win regular-season squad. The Yankees declined from 99 wins in 1999 to 87 in 2000, yet won the World Series anyway.

As you know, it's much harder to win a World Series now than it was decades ago, with the multiple rounds of playoffs. Posting huge regular-season win totals guarantees you nothing; of these 49 team years, only 10 of them wound up as World Series champions. 12 others got to the Series and lost, so nearly half of these years at least wound up with a league championship.

But it's clear that winning a lot of games can at least get you multiple shots at the prize. If the Cubs can become one of the teams that can go back-to-back with 97 or more wins, that surely gives them a better shot at it.

It's also true, though, that regular-season wins don't necessarily correlate with postseason success. Just ask last year's Cardinals or Pirates, for example.

I hope the Cubs can repeat last year's success. But even if they win "only" 90 games, that might be enough for a postseason berth, and perhaps a run deeper into October than they had in 2015.