The Rays, the Jays, and Another Look at the Odds

It’s been about a month since the last time I did this, so it seems like it’s time for an update. Again, eventually, you’ll be able to click on a team on the Playoff Odds page and see what the odds were on any given day. That’s still not a tool we have at our disposal, though, so your continued loss is my continued gain, as in the meantime I still get to author these posts.

The image should be fairly self-explanatory. The odds are based on player projections, schedules, and author-maintained team-by-team depth charts.

oddschange6414

At the start of the season, we gave the Blue Jays about a 27% chance of making the playoffs. At this writing, they stand at 77%, fourth-highest in baseball. At the other extreme is a rival of the Jays, the Rays. Before the year, we had their odds right around 51%. Currently they come in just above 6%, which in a sense are pretty good odds for a team tied for baseball’s worst record. The Rays are tied with the Cubs in record, and the Cubs’ odds are between 0-1%. Good news, Tampa Bay!

Now, that’s interesting. It’s also interesting to compare this chart to the chart from a month ago. At that point, the Jays’ odds had barely changed. The Rays were down about 18 percentage points. Since then, the Rays have tanked further while the Jays have caught fire. Since May 5 — when the post was published — the Jays have gone 21-7, better than anybody else. The Rays have gone 8-19, worse than anybody else. Helping the Jays has been the re-emergence of Edwin Encarnacion; hurting the Rays has been almost literally everything, including the underperformance and subsequent injury of Wil Myers. It just came across the wire that Jeremy Hellickson is getting closer, but at this point it seems like too little, too late. Two months in and the Rays are too far gone, and it looks like David Price will be available starting any day now. The good news for Tampa is there are plenty of teams who could use him. The estimated number of those teams is 30.

As of last month, five teams had seen playoff-odds changes of at least 20 percentage points. Now we’re at eight, with the Rangers understandably showing up next to the Rays in the image above. As of May 5, the Rangers’ odds had actually gone up since the end of March. But they’ve since cratered, the team having gone 12-15 and with all the players getting hurt. Now, 12-15 isn’t a terrible stretch of baseball, but consider that, over the same window, the A’s went 17-10. The Angels went 15-12. The Mariners went 17-13. Even the Astros went 15-13. The Rangers have lost ground to the whole division, and they’ve suffered more injuries, which is why now they’re barely clinging on. Alexi Ogando is the latest victim, hitting the disabled list with elbow discomfort. That happened a few minutes ago. The upside for the Rangers is that he’s been bad, which is some really dark upside.

The Brewers have slightly strengthened their position. While they’ve gone a decent 14-13 since May 5, the Cardinals have also gone just 14-13, so while the projections continue to like the Cardinals more, there’s now a month less remaining of the regular season. The Pirates have partially recovered; a month ago, they were down about 27 percentage points. They’ve cut that basically in half, after going 16-11 and getting closer to the debut of Gregory Polanco. In short: the Pirates are in a worse position than they were in March, but they’re in a better position than they were a month ago. The projections like them better than the Brewers, but they dug a deep hole in April.

The Mariners have been one of baseball’s hottest teams, but you don’t even seem them in the chart, because they’re essentially where they started. In March, their odds were in the low-30s, and currently, they’re again in the low-30s. But they were in the 20s in early May, so while it’s been a struggle to gain ground on Oakland and Los Angeles, the Rangers have been hurt and the Mariners presently occupy one of the two wild-card slots. Seven teams below the Mariners are within 2.5 games of the Mariners. Nobody’s safe.

Except for maybe the A’s and Giants. Right now they’re the two teams with playoff odds above 90%. They did a lot to help themselves before a month ago, but they’ve also both gone 17-10 *since* a month ago, the Giants running the best record in the National League. While the projections continue to prefer the Dodgers to the Giants, the Dodgers are also seven games worse than the Giants, and they’re projected to finish four games back. The Tigers are in the next-best spot, but a mediocre month has kept them in place, losing a little ground to the Indians.

Right now, 21 teams have at least a 1-in-10 shot at the playoffs. Of those, 16 different teams have at least a 1-in-5 shot at the playoffs, and ten teams are at least 1-in-2. To look at things differently, 13 teams have at least a 1-in-10 shot at the division. Of those, nine teams are at least 1-in-5, and five teams are at least 1-in-2. The NL Central has the least-secure division leader, even though the NL East is tightest.

Now, a table. Before the year, we had, for each team, an expected winning percentage. Now we have a new expected rest-of-season winning percentage, based on updated depth charts and projections (and schedules). This has nothing to do with wins and losses already in the books. Which teams have changed the most in terms of projections?

Team Win% Change Per 162
Astros 0.032 5.1
Braves 0.025 4.0
Athletics 0.020 3.2
Blue Jays 0.012 1.9
Angels 0.011 1.8
Tigers 0.011 1.8
Twins 0.010 1.7
Orioles 0.010 1.7
Brewers 0.007 1.2
Indians 0.006 1.0
Marlins 0.006 0.9
Giants 0.003 0.5
Cubs 0.002 0.3
Pirates 0.002 0.3
Padres 0.000 0.0
Nationals 0.000 -0.1
Reds -0.001 -0.1
Royals -0.004 -0.7
Red Sox -0.005 -0.8
Phillies -0.006 -0.9
Mets -0.006 -0.9
Rockies -0.007 -1.1
Cardinals -0.008 -1.2
Rays -0.008 -1.3
Mariners -0.010 -1.6
Diamondbacks -0.010 -1.6
Dodgers -0.012 -2.0
White Sox -0.015 -2.5
Yankees -0.019 -3.0
Rangers -0.044 -7.2

Leading the way are those Houston Astros. They’re projected now as something like a 72-win team, where before they were projected as a 67-win team. Now, George Springer is a starter. Now, Jon Singleton is a starter. Now, Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh have improved. Behind the Astros you get the Braves, A’s, and Jays. On the other end, the Rangers project much much worse, almost entirely due to an impossible number of roster injuries. Their initial projection was inflated a little by over-optimism regarding Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross, but the bulk of this is because of all the DL stints. The drop in the Rangers’ projection is more than double the drop of any other team’s projection. The Yankees project worse, probably because they miss CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda.

Everything here hinges on mathematical projections, so there’s a certain accuracy ceiling. If you like a team more or less than the projections, then that affects almost every single number. But you can consider this a starting point. It’s a good starting point, for Jays fans.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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AC
Guest
AC
1 year 11 months ago

At what point does the ‘season-to-date’ mode become a better predictor than the ‘preseason projections’ mode?
Certainly, we’re still dealing with some small samples in the current season, especially for newer call-ups and the like, but at some point in the next few months, you have to assume that the current level of production is the better prediction for the last month(s) of the season, don’t you?
Just wondering approximately where that line is.

Kogoruhn
Member
Kogoruhn
1 year 11 months ago

There’s no reason why you should be taking one or the other. You should be incorporating multiple years of data while weighting it for recency as well as sample size.

John Havok
Guest
John Havok
1 year 11 months ago

I’m pretty sure fangraphs did an article on this at some point either last year or the year before comparing the correlation in a team’s First half W/L records and second half W/L records as compared to the projections second half records, and the W/L records were slightly more predictive.

I cant find the article now, so I cannot profess to know if I am recalling it correctly.

JS
Guest
JS
1 year 11 months ago

Do the projections change throughout the year based on actual play or are they all based on pre-season projections? I still think the Brewers are underrated.

Steven
Guest
Steven
1 year 11 months ago

It is my understanding that they are using ZiPS(R) projections which are updated based on performance. However, the projections will not have changed much due to the weight given to past performance over the still relatively small sample of this season. Consider that the Brewers are a .500 team over the last 30+ games or so as a point in the not-overrated bin (though I think they are more like a .500-.510 W% team than a .488).

Edgar4Evar
Guest
Edgar4Evar
1 year 11 months ago

Do the A’s and Giants want 6.9 magnitude earthquakes? Because this is how you get 6.9 magnitude earthquakes.

Coodle
Member
Coodle
1 year 11 months ago

81% is about enough to have postseason expectations. Oh no.

Tim A
Guest
Tim A
1 year 11 months ago

The projection system still hates the +118 RD A’s. It has been giving them a +30 ROS RD since the season started, when they keep putting that same RD up every 2.5weeks. I think at a certain point we need to acknowledge the true awesomeness that is the 2014 A’s, both on paper and in the projections. ’89 repeat battle of the bay series 25 year reunion. This team is built to run a low HR/FB rate, and the xfip will always look bad the way they run there club till someone teaches the projection system to properly analyze there club, since they always drastically beat those same numbers.

bdhudson
Member
Member
bdhudson
1 year 11 months ago

You mean the projection systems that have them with a 14.3% chance of winning the WS, behind only the Tigers? And the best odds of making the postseason of any team?

Tim, who searches for things to complain about
Guest
Tim, who searches for things to complain about
1 year 11 months ago

Yeah, but…but…I must register my consternation! I will settle for no less than 100.0% postseason odds and oh…65% World Series odds. Nothing less will do. Because, you know, these FG odds are of GRAVE IMPORTANCE. Most years the baseball overlords simply discard the actual results and just play the postseason based on who FG says should be there.

GRAVE. IMPORTANCE.

Eminor3rd
Member
Eminor3rd
1 year 11 months ago

How did the White Sox’ odds go DOWN since the start of the season? Aren’t they doing much better than expected?

Is it that the Tigers are doing better than expected? They’re only 3 games up right now.

joser
Guest
joser
1 year 11 months ago

As a Mariners fan, I loved this bit because it perfectly encapsulates the M’s this season:

Now, 12-15 isn’t a terrible stretch of baseball, but consider that, over the same window, the A’s went 17-10. The Angels went 15-12. The Mariners went 17-13. Even the Astros went 15-13.

The 2014 Mariners: win as many as the A’s, lose as many as the Astros!

JS
Guest
JS
1 year 11 months ago

ESPN has more accurate playoff odds right now, this site needs to be able to start admitting they got some pre-season predictions completely wrong.

Klements Sausage
Guest
Klements Sausage
1 year 11 months ago

ESPN currently has the Mariners at 53.3%, which is too high. If you disagree with that, surely you’d agree that the Cubs have significantly less chance than the 13% ESPN gives them.

JS
Guest
JS
1 year 11 months ago

I’m not saying ESPN is perfect or anything, and definitely agree the Cubs are too high there. The Mariners might be a tad high there, but the Mariners and Angels are pretty close, and should be pretty close, definitely closer than the Angels 74% vs. Mariners 38% here.

The Tigers should not be 86% at this point, that is way too high. 1.4 for the Twin is too low, 2.8 for the White sox is too los (I’m not saying they should be favored or anything) while 1.6 is too high for the Rays at this point.

86% for the nationals is too high, 9.8 for the Marlins too low even with the Fernandez injury. Brewers a tad low, Cardinals a tad high. Dodgers at 73 way too high.

JS
Guest
JS
1 year 11 months ago

Also, sorry for the typo’s, not sure how I messed a few of those words up. Hopefully you can understand what I was trying to say.

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