How Have the Playoff Odds Changed for Each MLB Team Since the Start of the Year?
With the 88th MLB All-Star Game officially in the rearview mirror, the symbolic halfway point is past us, and we can officially look forward to the second half.
But with the dog days of summer still ahead, which teams have put themselves in an advantageous position with regard to playing some playoff baseball? On the flip side, which teams have dug themselves quite a hole and have work to do over the next few months to change their currently bleak outlook?
As we've seen with our weekly MLB power rankings update throughout the last three and a half months, an organization's playoff odds can steadily go up or down, but it's much more common to see them go on a bit of a roller coaster ride based off hot and cold streaks. With one half in the books, it's interesting to see how each squad's chances of reaching the postseason has changed since our projections went live during spring training.
The below table details that all for us. The preseason playoff odds were taken from our first power rankings update of the 2017 season, while the current playoff odds are up-to-date with regard to where teams stand as we wait for them to get back on the diamond in a couple days. Each team is ranked by the difference between these two percentages, from the biggest rise to the steepest fall.
|Team||Preseason Odds||Current Odds||Diff|
|New York Yankees||14.9%||73.8%||+58.9%|
|Tampa Bay Rays||10.5%||55.0%||+44.5%|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||71.6%||100.0%||+28.4%|
|Boston Red Sox||79.1%||88.1%||+9.0%|
|Kansas City Royals||14.4%||15.7%||+1.3%|
|San Diego Padres||1.4%||0.1%||-1.3%|
|Los Angeles Angels||15.5%||7.9%||-7.6%|
|Chicago White Sox||9.1%||1.0%||-8.1%|
|St. Louis Cardinals||59.8%||35.5%||-24.3%|
|New York Mets||46.0%||2.0%||-44.0%|
|Toronto Blue Jays||55.5%||8.3%||-47.2%|
|San Francisco Giants||63.1%||0.0%||-63.1%|
Based off first-half performances, it shouldn't be surprising to see certain teams experience a huge rise -- like the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, and New York Yankees. Furthermore, it also shouldn't be surprising to see teams we expected to perform well -- like the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Washington Nationals -- doing exactly that.
There are still a few takeaways we can grab from these results thus far, though.
A Lot of Letdowns
Probably the craziest area of the entire table is the bottom third.
Of the 10 teams that have seen the biggest negative change in their playoff odds, 6 of them reached the playoffs last year. Heck, one of them won the World Series, which many of us thought was the potential start of baseball's next dynasty. These disappointing squads include the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, and San Francisco Giants.
While the Blue Jays made some potentially questionable moves throughout the offseason, many people were expecting each of these squads to at least contend for a postseason spot. Toronto, Texas, and Baltimore are all within five games of the final American League Wild Card spot, so there's still some hope there. Chicago is under .500, but they are just 5.5 games behind the Brewers for first place in the National League Central.
It doesn't look like the Mets have much of a shot, but they proved last summer that anything is possible if a team gets hot. However, the Giants are clearly the most disappointing of this group. Sure, losing Madison Bumgarner to injury didn't help, but their 56 losses are second-worst in the majors, with only the Philadelphia Phillies losing more often.
And their collapse over the last calendar year has been rather shocking. After posting a 57-33 record heading into the 2016 All-Star break, manager Bruce Bochy's club has gone just 64-98. Yikes.
Royals Go on a Roller Coaster Ride
If we simply look at the Kansas City Royals' preseason playoff odds (14.4%) and compare them to their current odds (15.7%), it seems as if their first half has gone exactly how we expected it to go. But if we dig a little deeper, the last three and a half months have been anything but dull for them.
After just one week of play, a 2-5 start dropped their playoff odds down to 6.9%. After getting it back up to 11.3% a week later, they went down the tubes again, this time dipping down to 5.9%. They kept on setting and breaking new low points over the next few weeks when it came to their chances of getting back to October, with the worst coming on June 6th (1.0%).
That's when manager Ned Yost watched his club start coming back to life, which has also apparently encouraged general manager Dayton Moore to not only hold onto their core group of players this summer but to potentially be buyers at the non-waiver trade deadline.
So, their 44-43 record at the halfway point -- along with being well within shouting distance of both the division and a wild card spot -- is much more impressive when considering the journey they took to get there.
Mariners Aren't Making Things Easy
The Cubs got a lot of attention last year for breaking that 108-year championship drought last season, but let's not forget about the Seattle Mariners, you guys. Their 15-year playoff drought obviously isn't nearly as bad, but it is the longest such streak in the majors. To put this in proper perspective, Ichiro Suzuki was a rookie the last time the Mariners made the playoffs.
General manager Jerry Dipoto made what seemed like a million moves this past offseason because the organization is in win-now mode, and our models gave them a 51.0% chance of finally getting back to October prior to Opening Day.
They've spent most of the first half alternating between good stretches and bad stretches, and while their current 17.0% odds aren't the lowest they've been all year, it's not far off from the 13.8% number that was produced back on May 30th. With a sizable lead and 100.0% odds of making the playoffs, the Astros basically have the division locked up, but the Mariners are still just four games out of the final AL Wild Card spot despite a 43-47 record.
That could potentially justify Dipoto once again being aggressive as the trade deadline approaches, but Seattle's performance to this point in the year isn't making that decision a very easy one.