Thursday, May 19

Everything you know is wrong

At least if you look at the current MLB Standings and then contrast them with Baseball Prospectus' Postseason Odds Report. I realize that B-P's tool uses their initial projections for 2011 pretty heavily, but I wonder at what point they will start actually factoring 2011 performance into expectations for the rest of the season. Their predictions for each team's chances are, to borrow a phrase, at odds with the clubs' current positions on the divisional leaderboards.

AL East
The Yankees and Red Socks are both currently floundering at or right around .500 for the year, with Boston residing in 4th place. Naturally the HoSocks are a postseason lock on B-P at 83% (higher than any other team in either league) and the Spanks sit at 66%. Meanwhile, the division-leading Rays are given just a 30% chance to qualify. Still, it's hard to argue with BP's contention that the Blue Jays and Orioles aren't going anywhere.

AL Central
As you may have heard, the CLEVELAND INDIANS have the best record in baseball, flying high 4.5 games atop the mediocrity that is the AL Central (and kicking the Royals around again as I type this). This stellar start translates into just a 34% chance of making the playoffs, however, while second-place Detroit is a 52% bet. WTF? The poor KC Royals, as if a 19-1 drubbing at the hands of the Wahoos early this week wasn't enough, are afforded only a 0.5% chance of taking the division (the Wild Card is right out). BP must have predicted a 0-162 campaign for KC or something.

AL West
One of the projections that matches the current standings the best; first-place Texas has the best shot (60%) and last-place Seattle, well, um, one in 200 times you can expect a Mariner postseason bid. BP doesn't much care for the California Angels much though - even though they're tied with Oakland, BP gives the A's almost a 4X better chance for postseason qualification (38 to 10).

NL East
It's interesting how every division basically has 2-3 teams with a solid shot and a couple who simply aren't going anywhere. Here it's the Phillies (70%), Braves (55%), and Marlins (35%) favored to move along, while the Mets and Nationals not so much. Here BP's selections match up almost exactly with the current division standings.

NL Central
So what if Cincinnati is the defending division winner and holds a 1.5-game lead over St Louis? BP says the Reds are only 34% likely to advance in October while the Cardinals are a 60% bet. Makes sense to me. The ,500 Brewers still have a 21% chance, while the Pirates are listed as 0.2% likely to win the division, about 0.2% higher than I would have put them.

NL West
First-place Colorado: 27%
Second-place San Francisco: 80%
Well, alright then.

I found these number very interesting - what they mean is that BP has largely decided to double down on their preseason projections for each team, independent of how the league has played out thus far in 2011 through the first quarter of the season. Thsi may be the correct approach - I wonder if BP has decided that its track record of early projections is good enough to warrant doing so, and it'll be interesting to see if the divisions eventually sort themselves out more in favor of the teams BP favors, or if some of the surprise leaders will maintain their high level of play.

As an Indians fan, I'm hoping for the latter.

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