Major League Baseball Playoff Shifts: Week 9
Even though the Phillies' bats went silent for a while, AccuScore still believes they are the team to beat in the NL East.
By Stephen Oh
The Los Angeles Dodgers led the NL with a 5-2 record this week and it was especially impactful because they took two of three from red-hot Atlanta. The Dodgers are still 0.5 a game behind San Diego but by the end of the season the Dodgers are expected to take the NL West with a nearly 58 percent chance. San Diego still has not convinced AccuScore's computers that it is a legitimate contender despite having the best record in the NL. The Padres remaining schedule is tougher than it has been to this point and they have more road games than home games. The Rockies were a decent 3-3, but losing 2 of 3 to Arizona combined with the strong Dodgers' performance took a big toll on the Rockies playoff chances.
St. Louis is tied with the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central after the Cardinals went 4-2 and picked up over 11 percentage points. The Reds improved slightly after a 3-3 week because the Cubs and Brewers were just a 3-9 combined. The Cardinals are currently forecasted to finish 3 or 4 games ahead of Cincinnati by the end of the season, but Cincinnati is clearly well-positioned to take the Wild Card with a 32.7 percent chance of winning the Wild Card (29.8 percent to win the division). These teams are getting helped by the poor play from the rest of the division. No other team has better than a 30% chance of even finishing .500 this season.
The Atlanta Braves were 5-2 to continue their hot play, but they still only have a 24 percent chance of making the playoffs. They hold a 2 game lead on Philadelphia after they swept Philly to start the week. Even though the Phillies' bats went silent for a while, AccuScore still believes they are the team to beat in the NL East. Florida went just 3-4 this week but picked up +3.7 percent in the playoff race. This can be attributed to the call-up of Michael Stanton whose bat could help Florida win 2 to 4 more games this year than they would have without him.
Texas led the American League with a +10.6 percentage point improvement in playoff probability after going 4-2 including taking 2 of 3 over Tampa Bay. It is surprising to see Texas with such a solid 64% lead in the AL West race considering they are just 0.5 a game ahead of the Angels (+3.1 percent this week) and 1 game ahead of Oakland. Texas' remaining opponents currently have a combined winning percentage under 47 percent which is 3 points lower than the Angels and Oakland opponent percentages. Texas plays 3 series vs the Angels in late June to early August. Ultimately, head-to-head games will have the largest impact on who wins the division.
The Yankees are 2 games behind Tampa Bay and in the season forecast they are just 2 percentage points behind the Rays in the race to win the division. The Yankees went a strong 5-2 while Tampa Bay was just 3-4. At a 78 percent chance of making the playoffs the Yankees have the second best chance of making the playoffs in the AL (3rd highest in MLB) despite being second to Tampa Bay. The Red Sox went a solid 4-2 in Week 9 but taking 2 of 3 from Baltimore does not help a team much because Boston was 'supposed' to go 3-0 at home vs the lowly Orioles. At 90 wins Boston has the 4th best forecasted win total in the AL but they have just the 6th best playoff percentage.
No AL Central team improved their playoff probability this week after every team was under .500 this week. Minnesota holds a 3.5 game lead in the division and in the season forecast they are finishing an average of 3 wins ahead of the Tigers at the end of the season. With either Tampa Bay or the Yankees poised to take the Wild Card, the Twins, Tigers, Angels, Rangers and A's playoff chances are basically the same as their chance of winning their division.