Wednesday, August 27

Can the Indians make the playoffs?

Of course not. But why should that stop me from writing a dumb post about them doing just that?

Right now, Baseball Prospectus gives the Indians somewhere between 0.1% (PECOTA) and 0.14% (ELO) chance to make the playoffs. Both give the Wahoos about 0.09% of winning the Central, but ELO-adjusted is a little rosier on our Wild Card chances. Essentially, both think that Boston is better than whichever of Minnesota/Chicago wins the Central. Fair enough.

Currently, the Indians sit in 3rd place in the division, a half-game up on the Tigers. If Fausto Carmona can channel his inner Zach Jackson these next couple of days, the Indians will soon be up 1.5 on Detroit for third place. More concerning is that they're 11.5 back of the White Socks and 9.5 behind the Twinkies, with only 31 games remaining (30 for the other two). They trail the wild-card leading Red Socks by 12 games. In other news: I do not like the Red Socks.

An ardent baseball fan friend of mine named Reid sent me a text yesterday saying "I figure if we win 31 of our last 32 games, we're in the playoffs." At first, I thought "of course," but without checking I'm not certain.

The good news: such an improbable run would net the Tribe 94 wins on the year, which is generally enough to secure a playoff spot, no matter what the 93-win 2005 Indians club might tell you. But would that be enough to pass those two teams? For simplicity, I'm leaving Toronto and the soon-to-be-missing-the-playoffs Yankees out of the discussion.

If the Tribe goes 31-1 (now 30-1, after last night's pummeling of the Motor City Kitties), here's how the other teams will need to finish for the season to end in a tie with Cleveland:

Chicago: 18-12
Minnesota: 20-10
Boston: 18-13

To qualify for the postseason, the Indians need at least two of these teams (any two) to perform at or below this level. This is very possible. Now, on our way to 31-1, we'll encounter these teams, and let's say the only loss is to Kansas City (on a bases-loaded walk in the 10th, no less!). The 31 W's will include six takedowns of the White Socks, four beatdowns of the Red Socks, and three Twin killings. Subtracting that from those teams' tie-the-Tribe metric, we've got team goals of:

Chicago: 18-6
Minnesota: 20-7
Boston: 18-9

Those are going to be really tough marks for these teams to meet or surpass, especially feeling the pressure from the surging Indians. At least two of these clubs won't get this done. I'd have to say that Reid is right - if we can put up 31-1, we'll probably make the postseason. Even a couple fewer wins, maybe a 28-4 mark and 91 wins, might give the Indians postseason hope. I've done the math - now it's time for the Tribe to do the deed.

Of course, had we played up to our Pythagorean potential all year instead of only the last eight days, this would all be much easier. Such is life, and such is baseball.


JHH said...

It would be interesting to remind me how bad the situation was for the Rockies last year or the Houston Astros circa 2005 or so.

JHH said...

Actually those were both NL wild-card teams which only needed 89 and 90 wins. Which may be enough in AAAA, but not the AL.

But as a comparison both those teams low points came in late May.

With the 2005 Astros being 15 games under .500 at May 27th and the 2007 Rockies only 9 games under .500 at May 21.

Still I'll take winning ballgames any day.

Ernest said...

Playoffs or not, I'm liking this hungry young no-name version of the Tribe. With a miniscule payroll and without CC, Victor, Hafner, etc. The Indians have become Tampa Bay!