The Playoffs Sweet Spot

Baseball season is officially creeping ever closer with the release of the first CAIRO projections. With the news cycle a little slow, these projections can serve as discussion fodder but shouldn’t be taken as gospel given the premature state of rosters and depth charts. With those necessary disclaimers out of the way, let’s do some exploring.

A few years ago, Nate Silver wrote this piece with the intent to defend Jeffrey Loria’s fire sale. What he did within is lay out playoff probabilities and break teams down into quadrants: 1) rebuilding teams (fewer than 82 projected wins); 2) fringe contenders (82-87 projected wins); 3) legitimate contenders (87-92 projected wins); 4) established (92-97 projected wins); and 5) juggernaut (97+ projected wins). After doing so, he examined their optimal strategies (thus arriving at the conclusion that Loria’s Marlins were correct to enter rebuilding mode), but the takeaway information has to do with Silver’s playoff probabilities and the range of projected wins he labeled as the sweet spot– the 86-94 win range.

The above graph shows playoff probability by win total from the 2001-2010 seasons. With the exception of the 93-win mark (four teams missed the playoffs despite that total), the graph is wholly intuitive. The more wins, the higher the probability. Silver’s so-called sweet spot seems to reflect in real-life data pretty well, even if it comes five years later (this Silver fellow might have a future after all). As such, here are the quadrants as told by this version of the CAIRO projections:

Rebuilding – Baltimore, Toronto, Cleveland, Kansas City, Los Angeles of Anaheim, Seattle, New York (N), Florida, Washington, Chicago (N), Pittsburgh, Houston, San Diego, and Arizona

Fringe Contenders – Oakland, Detroit, Chicago (A), Minnesota, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Colorado

Legitimate Contenders – New York (A), Tampa Bay, Texas, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Milwaukee

Established – Philadelphia

Juggernaut – Boston

My assumption is that Boston will slide down the win curve once New York and Tampa Bay sure up their rosters some more, but for now they look like the team to beat.



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David
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David

Your 2011 San Francisco Giants: fringe contenders.

dustygator
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dustygator

Your 2010 San Francisco Giants:fringe contenders.

They’re a team that’s built for the playoffs; they can beat anyone in a 5 or 7 game series, they just need to get there.

DrBGiantsfan
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To say that a team is a fringe contender, while at the same time built for the playoffs, it pretty much 180 degrees opposite of the point of the graph.

Danmay
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Danmay

@DrBGiantsfan

It doesn’t seem like the opposite of the graph to me. The graph shows who will make it to the playoffs, not how well they will do in the playoffs. Dustygator is saying that the Giants may only have a fringe chance of making the playoffs, but once they are in they can compete with anyone. That doesn’t contradict the graph, it just is making an ascertion that the graph has nothing to do with.

Ari Collins
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I believe what DrB was saying is that the Giants should perhaps be in rebuilding mode. Their pitching was great last year, but they really caught lightning in a bottle, especially when the playoffs came, in order to hit AT ALL. Of course, because they DID catch lightning in a bottle, it’d be pretty hard to sell the fans on rebuilding. They’ve had a pretty quiet offseason, too, instead of trying to fix their offense.

Sorry, DrB, if I’m putting the wrong words in your mouth.

Scout Finch
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Scout Finch

Go figure. Meanwhile the Rays are still legitimate and the Twins are on the fringe? Cincinnati feels the snub as well.

“Quintiles” are also feeling snubbed by author’s use of “quadrants”.

Barkey Walker
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Barkey Walker

Minnesota, Detroit, and Chicago are probably all fringe contenders because they have to compete with each other. They all play at about the same level.

zenbitz
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zenbitz

It’s bizzare to me that the CAIRO predictions put the Giants at 84 wins, and the THT predictions put them at 94. That is an astronomical difference… Probably they are somewhere in the middle of that.

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