An early look at the MLB playoff race

As the MLB season has completed its first month, there are only a handful of teams that appear to be out of the playoff picture *cough, cough..Astros*. This is easily the most optimistic time of year for many fan bases around the MLB landscape, and it means that a lot of fans are wondering whether or not their team still has a chance at making it into the playoffs. So that’s what we are going to do, take a look at the odds of teams of making it into the playoffs.

To do this,we are going to look at each league and break down how the divisions stack up*. And then we will take a look at the surprise teams that I feel can sneak into the playoffs in October.

*Playoff odds come from this Fangraphs link

American League

AL West

Rank Team                     (W-L) Chance of winning the Division Chance of winning a Wild Card spot
1) Oakland Athletics      (20-15) 44.8% 22.1%
2) Seattle Mariners       (17-16) 12.6% 17.3%
3) Texas Rangers         (17-17) 20.7% 22.1%
4) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim                  (16-17) 21.9% 21.8%
5) Houston Astros         (11-24) 0.0% 0.0%

Poor Astros…poor Houston…

The AL West is a pretty good example of why baseball is weird. After all the second place Seattle Mariners the second lowest chance of winning the division, or a wild card spot, despite the team’s comined record against the Rangers and Angels…the M’s are 7-5 against both teams, 4-1 against the Angels and 3-4 against the Rangers.

It’ll be interesting to see how these odds change as the season goes along, and as the beat up AL West starts to get healthier. And whether or not the

AL Central

Rank Team                     (W-L) Chance of winning the Division Chance of winning a Wild Card spot
1) Detroit Tigers           (20-10) 90.7% 5%
2) Chicago White Sox    (18-17) 0.9% 3.6%
3) Kansas City Royals   (16-17) 4.3% 16.3%
4) Cleveland Indians    (16-19) 4% 14.8%
5) Minnesota Twins       (15-18) 0.1% 0.6

The AL Central’s playoff odds pretty much confirm what everyone already suspected, and that is that this is the Tigers division to lose. What’s fascinating though, is that the second place team actually has a worse chance of winning the division than the third and fourth place teams…it is pretty clear that Fangraphs doesn’t think that the White Sox are not going to be able to sustain their level of play throughout the remainder of the season.

AL East

Rank Team                           (W-L) Chance of winning the Division Chance of winning a Wild Card spot
1) Baltimore Orioles        (17-14) 10% 11.6%
2) New York Yankees       (18-15) 18.8% 16.9%
3) Toronto Blue Jays        (17-17) 17.2% 15.4%
4) Boston Red Sox          (17-17) 42.1% 19%
5) Tampa Bay Rays         (15-19) 11.9% 13.5%

The AL East is easily the most balanced division — according to these playoff odds — in the American League. That being said, it’s incredibly surprising how high Fangraphs is on the Red Sox…I mean, I get that they are the defending World Series Champs, but they haven’t exactly lit the world on fire in their first 34 games.  It’s also surprising that the Blue Jays have such a high chance of winning the division, especially when you consider how they played last season. B

But it is early, and these odds will be changing throughout the season.

National League

NL West

Rank Team                           (W-L) Chance of winning the Division Chance of winning a Wild Card spot
1) San Francisco Giants   (21-13) 35.5% 34.4%
2) Colorado Rockies        (22-14) 17.7% 30%
3) Los Angeles Dodgers   (19-16) 44.7% 30.3%
4) San Diego Padres        (15-20) 1.7% 5.5%
5) Arizona Diamondbacks (13-24) 0.4% 1.5%

Th Giants are surprisingly doing well this year, after struggling the previous two seasons. And they actually have a pretty good chance at making the playoffs…and that’s pretty neat. But what’s really interesting is the fact that the NL West is so top-heavy right now, the top three teams all have more wins than losses, but the bottom two teams are so far below .500 it isn’t even funny (okay, maybe it is a little funny).

NL Central

 

Rank Team                           (W-L) Chance of winning the Division Chance of winning a Wild Card spot
1) Milwaukee Brewers      (22-13) 32.7% 12.4%
2) St. Louis Cardinals      (18-17) 50.7% 10.9%
3) Cincinnati Reds           (15-18) 6.8% 4.6%
4) Pittsburgh Pirates        (14-20) 9.4% 5.9%
5) Chicago Cubs             (11-21) 0.4% 0.3%

The NL Central is all sorts of messed up…I mean the Brewers in first place, and the Pirates in fourth? What’s going on here?

That being said, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Cardinals have the best chance at winning the division, the front office has drafted well and always seems to sign free agents who actually do what they were brought in to do. And that has to be irritating to fans of the other franchises in this division, because someone else being consistently being successful is annoying if it isn’t you/your team.

NL East

Rank Team                           (W-L) Chance of winning the Division Chance of winning a Wild Card spot
1) Miami Marlins (19-15) 6.2% 11.1%
2) Washington Nationals (19-15) 63.8% 17.8%
3) Atlanta Braves (18-15) 26.9% 28.7%
4) New York Mets (16-17) 0.6% 1.7%
5) Philadelphia Phillies (15-17) 2.6% 4.9%

*laughs loudly*

“Go home Fangraphs, you’re drunk!*

/Check ESPN’s MLB standings

//Jaw hits floor

///Checks MLB’s standings

“At least the Mets and Phillies still suck?”

 

  1. kingarthur11 May 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I think the fangraphs really just like the Nationals. They were expected to win the World Series last year, and are a popular pick again this year. We’ll see what happens, especially with Harper on the DL for two months.

    1. Neil Roberts May 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      It helps that SP Doug Fister is set to come off the DL at any point. He should be a big boost to their rotation.

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