BOSTON (CBS) — The Chicago Cubs may be the best team in MLB, but baseball minds around the league don’t feel confident that the Curse of the Billy Goat will be lifted this fall.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark surveyed 25 executives from around Major League Baseball about which team will win the World Series, and though the Cubs received the most votes, the Red Sox were not far behind.

Of the 21 executives who picked a World Series winner, seven selected the Cubs and six picked the Red Sox. Sixteen executives picked the Red Sox as the most feared team in the American League, with the Rangers (seven votes) and Blue Jays (two votes) finishing very far behind.

Stark warned that in the past two years, just one executive has properly predicted a World Series winner, so the endorsements don’t necessarily translate to championships.

Stark noted that only twice in the past 25 years has the team with sole possession of the best record in baseball ended up winning the World Series, and a National League team hasn’t done it since the 1986 Mets. That works against the Cubs, in addition to the added pressure that comes with playing at Wrigley in October.

As far as the Red Sox are concerned, offense is expected to win the day.

“Boston’s offense is the singular best strength of all the teams,” one GM told Stark.

Stark expounded on that idea: “When we try to break down which clubs profile best to survive the four-week October marathon, isn’t that what we look for — a team so dominant that even the best teams in the sport can’t stop it from doing what it does best? And that’s the Red Sox. Against pitchers who average a strikeout per inning or better, the Sox lead the major leagues in average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. Against pitchers defined as ‘power pitchers,’ Boston’s OPS (.798) is 65 points higher than the next-best team. But the Red Sox are also first in OPS against ‘finesse’ pitchers (.848). And they went into the weekend as the only team in the past five years with an OPS of .800 or better against both left-handed and right-handed pitching. So good luck finding a matchup that looks like this team’s kryptonite.”

The Red Sox embark on their quest for a World Series on Thursday in Cleveland.


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