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Fresh 2013 Playoff Odds for Every MLB Contender

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystDecember 7, 2016

Fresh 2013 Playoff Odds for Every MLB Contender

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    For Freddie Freeman and the Braves and 19 other teams, the fat lady has already begun to sing.

    Seven of the 10 spots in the 2013 MLB postseason have been spoken for, and 13 of the remaining 23 teams have already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

    But the race for the two American League Wild Card spots is anything but decided, and the National League's second wild-card spot is at least being contested.

    How likely is it that Tampa Bay and Texas hang on to their slim lead in the AL?

    Could Kansas City still put a nice bow on an inspired season with a playoff appearance?

    Have you been paying attention to the Angels lately?

    On the following slides, we'll assign each team a percent chance of making the playoffs and provide a justification for why some of the numbers don't quite line up with the odds currently posted on MLB.com.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com and are accurate through the start of play on Wednesday, September 18.

No-Brainers

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    Team(s): Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 99.99

     

    It's still mathematically possible for all of these teams to miss the playoffs, but it would never happen.

    Heading into play on Wednesday, each of these teams has at least an eight-game cushion between itself and either the second-place team within the division or the third-place team in the wild-card race.

    Even if the Braves go 0-11 to finish out the season, the Nationals would need to go 8-3 just to force a tiebreaker for the NL East title. Even then, the Braves could still make the playoffs if the Reds failed to reach 90 wins.

    Very similar stories are keeping the Dodgers and Red Sox on the right side of the postseason cut line. Barring a meltdown the likes of which has never been seen, these three teams will be playing in October.

Almost No-Brainers

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    Team(s): Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 99.8

     

    Not quite the safety net afforded to the three teams on the previous slide, but it would still take an historic collapse for any of these teams to fall out of position to make the playoffs.

    The A's are 6.5 games ahead of the Rangers in the AL West and seven games ahead of the Indians for the second wild-card spot if it came to that. Considering their remaining schedule (four vs. L.A. Angels, four vs. Minnesota, three at Seattle), it's borderline impossible to see them losing seven games, let alone falling seven games in the standings.

    The Cardinals and Pirates are in a dogfight for the NL Central. The Reds lie in wait for the possibility of table scraps, but they would have to drop behind the Nationals in order to miss the playoffs.

    Pittsburgh still has six difficult games remaining against Cincinnati, and St. Louis still has three games left against Washington in which it could directly lose some ground to a surging team, but the rest of their remaining schedules are just way too easy to envision a full-blown disaster scenario.

    Aside from the aforementioned nine games, Pittsburgh and St. Louis combine to play six games against the Cubs and series against the Brewers, Padres and Rockies. If it weren't for the Marlins and Mets, those would be the four worst teams in the National League.

    Even if Washington somehow goes 11-0 over the final two weeks of the season, is there really a realistic chance of either St. Louis or Pittsburgh losing enough games to miss out? (Hint: Look at the percent chance of making playoffs.)

Detroit Tigers

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    Record: 88-64 (six-game lead over Cleveland in AL Central)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 99.6

     

    Before you completely lose your mind over the fact that Detroit isn't included on either of the previous no-brainer slides, please recognize that a 99.6 percent chance of making the playoffs is still 250-to-1 odds of not making the playoffs.

    I would be just as shocked as anyone if the Tigers failed to make the playoffs. But it's worth noting that stranger things have happened and that they're more likely to miss the playoffs than any other current division leader.

    If they do blow it against their remaining schedule, though, they'll have no one but themselves to blame.

    Two months ago, I made the point that Cleveland's schedule down the stretch is about as easy as it gets, but Detroit's is actually easier from here on out. The current four-game home series against the Mariners (in which the Tigers are currently 2-0) is the most challenging molehill left for Detroit, and Seattle entered that series 17 games below .500.

    They're "only" six games ahead of Cleveland in both the AL Central and AL Wild Card picture, but it's very difficult to envision a 2013 MLB postseason without the Tigers.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Record: 87-66 (five-game lead over Washington for second NL Wild Card)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 98.0

     

    On Aug. 22, Mat Latos took care of business against the Arizona Diamondbacks, giving the Reds three wins in four games against their closest competition for the second wild-card spot and pushing their record to 18 games above .500 in the process.

    Since then, they're 13-11 and have allowed the Washington Nationals to gain five games on them, opening the door for a world of bloggers—desperate to have something to write about in the National League playoff race for the first time in two months—to question whether the Reds might fall just enough to let Washington sneak in.

    Yet, we're talking about a team that is closer to winning its division than it is to missing the playoffs.

    With a 4.5-game cushion and four games remaining against the Astros and Mets, the Reds could realistically lose all six of their games left against the Pirates and still make the playoffs with room to spare. Fun as it may be to speculate about a photo finish, it's not incredibly likely by any means.

Cleveland Indians

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    Record: 82-70 (0.5 GB Texas for AL Wild Card)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 65.0

     

    The Indians may be a half-game behind both Texas and Tampa Bay, but they have the best playoff odds among the AL Wild Card hopefuls thanks to a very forgiving schedule.

    Once they finish up their current series against the Royals, they have 10 games left against the Twins, White Sox and Astros, with just the quartet of games against Minnesota coming on the road.

    Meanwhile, Tampa Bay plays nine more games against teams fighting for a wild-card berth before closing its season in Toronto. Texas follows up its current four-game set in Tampa Bay with a trip to Kansas City, and the Rangers have already posted a 3-12 record in the month of September.

    The schedules of Baltimore and Kansas City aren't much friendlier, and the Indians already have a multiple-game lead over both of those teams.

    The odds of Cleveland getting past Boston in the ALDS are slim-to-none, but the odds of it making it into a do-or-die one-game playoff are pretty solid.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Record: 83-68 (Half-game ahead of Texas for top AL Wild Card spot)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 55.0

     

    It got pretty ugly there for a while, but the Rays have won four of their last six and are currently in position to be the home team in the wild-card game.

    So why are their odds of making the playoffs just better than 50/50?

    The remaining schedule is quite difficult, and the offense is still sputtering to rediscover itself.

    Even including Monday night's convincing win over the Rangers, the Rays have averaged just three runs per game over their last 23 contests—many of which came against the generous pitching staffs of the Angels, Twins and Mariners.

    If they couldn't score against those teams, how can they expect to win more often than not in their upcoming games against the Rangers, Orioles and Yankees?

    Losing series to the Mariners and Angels was embarrassing, but it didn't have anywhere near the direct effect that any sort of losing streak against wild-card contenders over the next 10 days would have.

Texas Rangers

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    Record: 82-69 (Half-game behind Tampa Bay for top AL Wild Card spot, 0.5 games ahead of Cleveland)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 45.0

     

    Someone has to be the odd man out, and things really aren't looking good for Texas right now.

    Derek Holland was quietly the rock of this pitching staff over the first half of the season, but he is 1-5 with a 3.99 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break.

    Yu Darvish has pitched masterfully, but he can't buy run support.

    Matt Garza has been the lucky one in terms of run support, but he has a 4.94 ERA since his arrival in Texas.

    What seemed like a dream starting rotation after the trade deadline has devolved into a nightmare scenario where nothing can go right. The real shame of the matter is that they've gotten solid production out of rookie Martin Perez as the fourth starter, but they've been unable to capitalize on that benefit.

    If the Rangers can't figure out a way to win at least three of their next five road games against the Rays and Royals, they could be all but finished within a week's time.

    Three road wins is no easy task when you've lost 12 of your last 15 games.

New York Yankees

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    Record: 80-72 (2.5 GB Texas for AL Wild Card)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 15.0

     

    If the Rangers continue their nosedive and the Indians are unable to seal the deal, the Yankees have arguably the best shot at the playoffs out of the teams still in contention.

    Though they've struggled over the past two weeks—losing six out of seven against their bitter rivals from Boston—the worst part of the schedule is most definitely behind them.

    A three-game road trip to Toronto might not seem easy to most teams, but New York's 13-3 record against the Blue Jays this season trails only Cleveland's 15-2 owning of the White Sox and Texas's 14-2 record against the Astros for the most dominant display of intradivision superiority.

    Aside from that, it's three games in Houston, three games against the disappointing Giants and three home games against Tampa Bay, one of the teams they're looking to bypass in the standings.

    I don't particularly want to live in a world where the Yankees close out the season with a 10-1 record en route to a five-game series against the Red Sox in the ALDS, but I also can't write it off as anything close to implausible.

Kansas City Royals

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    Record: 80-72 (2.5 GB Texas for AL Wild Card)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 12.0

     

    Somehow, the Royals have gone 6-5 against the Tigers and Indians during the first 11 games of a 15-game stretch that was supposed to be their death knell.

    Now, all of a sudden, they just about control their own destiny.

    With four home games left against the Indians and Rangers, the Royals could vault themselves into a wild-card spot by the end of the day on this coming Sunday—unless the Orioles decide to win each of their next five road games against the Red Sox and Rays.

    Aside from the 10-run shellacking he took against the Tigers last week, "Big Game" James Shields has been incredible down the stretch, registering a quality start in 10 of his 12 outings since the All-Star break.

    The Royals have needed every last one of them, and they're going to need at least two more if they're going to make the playoffs for the first time in 28 years.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Record: 81-70 (1.0 GB Texas for AL Wild Card)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 8.5

     

    The Orioles only trail the Rangers by one game for the final wild-card spot, but they have what is unquestionably the most brutal remaining schedule of any AL Wild Card contender.

    They have five games left against the Red Sox. That's five games against a franchise that distinctly remembers when Baltimore knocked them out of the playoffs on the final day of the regular season two years ago. The Red Sox would love nothing more than to return the favor.

    In addition to those "Revenge for Robert Andino" games, the Orioles also play four games in Tampa Bay and three home games against the Blue Jays—against whom they have evenly split 16 regular-season matchups.

    Putting together a .500 record against that schedule might be possible, but it likely wouldn't be enough to reach the playoffs. It's really going to take an inspired run against some quality teams for Baltimore to make the playoffs for a second straight season.

Washington Nationals

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    Record: 81-71 (5.5 GB Cincinnati for second NL Wild Card)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 2.4

     

    It's been a fun run watching the Nationals win 16 of their last 21 games against the Marlins, Mets and Phillies—and a doubleheader sweep of the Braves in the wake of a tragedy in D.C.—but all good things must come to an end.

    They do still have four games at home against the hapless Marlins, but they're sandwiched between games against the Braves and a six-game road trip to St. Louis and Arizona.

    Even if they were dead even with the Reds for the second wild-card spot in the NL, I'd be inclined to give them about a 30 percent chance of making the playoffs against that schedule.

    Making up five games against a team that plays four of its remaining 10 games against the Astros and Mets? That's pretty much impossible.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Record: 77-74 (9.0 GB Cincinnati for second NL Wild Card)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 0.2

     

    After a 16-inning win over the Pirates on Aug. 18, the Diamondbacks were six games over .500 and just five games behind the Reds for the second wild-card spot.

    They promptly lost three out of four in Cincinnati and haven't been back to six games over .500 since.

    The worst part is that their schedule was so darn forgiving.

    Their next 16 games after that series in Cincinnati came against Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Toronto—each of whom entered play on Sept. 17 somewhere between 10 and 13 games below .500. The D-Backs went 7-9 during that stretch and lost their next two games to the Dodgers to drop all the way back to .500.

    They had their chance, and they blew it.

    Technically, they still have a pulse—they're nine games back for the NL Wild Card and 10.5 games back in the NL West—but if they were going to pull off a miracle comeback, it would have started over three weeks ago.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Record: 74-78 (8.5 GB Texas for AL Wild Card)

    Percent chance of making playoffs: 0.01

     

    Wait, what?!

    No one would blame you if you completely stopped paying attention to the Angels at the end of July after they lost six straight games against the A's and Rangers. Nor would it be a surprise if you completely wrote them off after five losses of six at home against Houston and Cleveland dropped them to 16 games below .500.

    However, the Halos have the third-best record in all of baseball since Aug. 22 and are suddenly flirting with a .500 record after the beating they handed Oakland on Monday night.

    Don't get your hopes up, though. They're still 9.5 games back in the AL Wild Card chase with just barely 9.5 games left to be played.

    Still, they deserve some sort of recognition for not giving up on a season that we left for dead months ago.

    And hey, perhaps this surge toward relevancy will give the Angels enough credibility to get Mike Trout the AL MVP award he so richly deserves.

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