Re-visiting playoff odds

DMZ · August 25, 2007 at 1:49 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

A while back, I wrote up a short post on how the path to the playoffs for the M’s likely ran through the AL West, as the wild card competition was so stiff. Since then, the M’s have reeled off a set of huge wins, their rivals have slowed up a little, and suddenly this looks much different: they’re 3 games ahead of the Yankees in the wild card race, five ahead of Detroit. And they’re only one back of the Angels, making the AL West pennant a much easier task.

Which, as they say, is why they play the games.

The really good news as that the space between the M’s and the Yankees provides a huge cushion, much larger at this stage of the season than it might seem. Say you think the M’s, for all their success, are only a .500 team, and the Yankees much better (Yankees fans certainly seem to think this).

If the M’s go 18-18 in all their remaining games (including make ups), they’ll finish out at 91-71 (!). That means the Yankees need to go 20-14 to tie, which is extremely hard, even with the games against the Devil Rays in there. Unless the M’s go into a severe slump, they’ll force the Yankees to play extremely well to have a chance at this.

BP’s playoff odds put the M’s chances of getting into the playoffs right now at 59%, about equally split between winning the AL West and getting the wild card berth. I can’t remember when the M’s chances to get into the post-season looked this good. That’s great news.


42 Responses to “Re-visiting playoff odds”

  1. Roger on August 25th, 2007 1:57 pm

    And this in spite of ourselves. Pretty amazing.

    Given this, is there now a “preference” (ignoring pride and getting another banner to hang at Safeco) as to which way the M’s “ideally” would enter the playoffs based on who the wildcard team will be playing versus who the West winner will be playing in the first round?

  2. argh on August 25th, 2007 1:58 pm

    There’s certainly reason to be excited — only the 6th time (if I count correctly) in team history that the Ms will (should? may?) finish with 90 or more wins.

  3. oh poker on August 25th, 2007 2:01 pm

    Somehow I bet my friend $200 to his $550 that the Ms would make the playoffs. I should tell him he can buy out right now for $400 :-p.

  4. LoydKristmis on August 25th, 2007 2:02 pm

    They may not be the best put together ballclub out there, or have the best starting pitching, but they are hot at the right time and that is what matters. Ask the Cardinals.

    The Angels are expected to win the west, and the Yankees obviously have sky high expectations every year. The Mariners are in a nice little spot comfortably playing very good baseball putting tons of pressure on these other teams to keep up.

    I wonder if the fact that the M’s weren’t really expected to do anything this year is helping them (less pressure), hurting them (less intensity?) or having no effect at all.

  5. Mr. Egaas on August 25th, 2007 2:02 pm

    For a team that was looking at winning anywhere from 70-85 games depending on who you talked to to start the season, it’s been quite the run.

    Most importantly, it’s been a fun ride to boot.

  6. DMZ on August 25th, 2007 2:08 pm

    You don’t want to face the Red Sox in the first round if you can avoid it. That team is awesome.

  7. terry on August 25th, 2007 2:17 pm

    Hopefully this nutty schedule won’t turn the Ms pennant chase into a march of attrition. I feel a whole lot better with Jones actually wearing an Ms jersey and knowing Broussard is on the bench.

  8. The Ancient Mariner on August 25th, 2007 2:25 pm

    In the interest of not facing the Red Sox in the first round, then, we definitely want to win the West, which would leave us facing either the Yankees or the winner of the Central.

  9. Sec 108 on August 25th, 2007 2:25 pm

    My team to avoid is also the Red Sox. Partly because they are awesome and also because I am sure their fans would find a fair share of scalped tickets to get into a Playoff game.

    All that being said. I’ll take anyone over nothing at all. Back in February I did not believe this team had a shot at finishing 20 games over. I will gladly be proven wrong if they keep this up.

  10. cgmonk on August 25th, 2007 2:26 pm

    Why should we trust BP’s playoff odds? One week ago our playoff odds were at 34%, today it is 56%. Before September comes it can be right back at 34%.

  11. wokster on August 25th, 2007 2:28 pm

    With the idea in mind that the Red Sox would go into the post season with the best record, I’d definitely want to avoid them in a short series, so I’d want to avoid the wildcard as much as possible. Just my personal opinion.

    If the Angels manage to take the best record into the post season, and we pick up the wild card, we’d have to face Boston anyway since the WC plays best non-division team. I highly doubt BOTH the Angels and either Detroit or Cleveland beat the Red Sox record.

    The only real way to avoid the Red Sox in the short series is to take the West unless I’m mistaken (not the first time heh)

  12. DMZ on August 25th, 2007 2:32 pm

    w/r/t anyone’s playoff odds: they’re estimations based on the current season situation. They could, indeed, be back at 34% by the end of the month.

    But if you go check out how they (or coolstandings or whoever) do their stuff, you’ll see why they’re interesting measures of a team’s position.

  13. drjeff on August 25th, 2007 2:41 pm

    I love watching baseball, whether my team is in the hunt or not. That being said, I had almost forgotten the unbridled joy of following every game with the knowledge that wins are priceless commodities at this point of the season. It’s so cool to be paying attention to more than one score because of the impact those scores have on the pennant race.

    My son is 11, and has really only started following baseball closely over the past few years. He’s never had the excitement of seeing the M’s in the race, and he’s just beside himself. Good times!

  14. dw on August 25th, 2007 2:43 pm

    I want to believe. But I’m afraid that if I do, they’ll blow it.

    IOW, I am a Mariners fan.

  15. Mr. Egaas on August 25th, 2007 2:47 pm


    Indeed. I was 10 for the majestic 1995 M’s run and I was calling Lou’s moves before he’d make them. There’s nothing like it to make a young fan a fan for life.

  16. Notor on August 25th, 2007 2:58 pm

    If Felix has the kind of command he had last night for the rest of the stretch, there’s no way we aren’t making the playoffs. That was no-hitter-esque type of stuff, bad offense or not.

  17. brian_sun on August 25th, 2007 3:02 pm

    DMZ: The Yankees can make up that 3 games deficit in a hurry from September 4 – 6 in the Bronx. You realize 7 out of the 10 games that the M’s and the Yanks play this year will be in NY. I can understand a 6-4 split, but 7-3 is ridiculous.

  18. Ninja Jordan on August 25th, 2007 3:12 pm

    It’s amazing that the 30 year old Mariners franchise has only won its division 3 times. Winning the West this year would be huge.

  19. Notor on August 25th, 2007 3:18 pm

    I’d really like to play Cleveland in the ALDS, then get a little revenge for 95.

  20. bamassippi on August 25th, 2007 3:25 pm


    (This post got me so fired up)

  21. darrylzero on August 25th, 2007 3:27 pm

    With regard to playing the Sox in a short or long series… I understand wanting as easy a matchup as you can get in the first round, and I’d much prefer to win a playoff series than to get bumped immediately. But, isn’t there a case to be made that the odds of making the world series are higher overall if you play the Sox in the short series? Doesn’t a longer series give better odds to the better team? Thoughts?

  22. joser on August 25th, 2007 3:31 pm

    The thinking, I believe, is that a short series favors the team with the best 1-2 starting pitchers. In the longer series there is more opportunity for the bullpens to affect the outcome. If that is true, given the relative strengths of the BoSox and M’s, wouldn’t you say a short series favors boston?

  23. terry on August 25th, 2007 3:33 pm

    DMZ: The Yankees can make up that 3 games deficit in a hurry from September 4 – 6 in the Bronx.

    But after that series, the yanks will have to make up 6 games…..

  24. Tropics iRE on August 25th, 2007 3:35 pm

    i have been starting to feel the impending euphoria that is post season baseball… all i can hope is that the players all play together as they have been of late, and follow their hearts and skills all the way to the promise land.


  25. jullberg on August 25th, 2007 3:40 pm

    4 – I’ve been hearing a lot of comparisons of the Mariners to the St. Louis Cardinals of last year and I like it. We have the bonafide ace at the top (Felix-Carpenter) and a bunch of average starters behind (we even have Weaver). Followed by a bunch of average hitters with struggling veterans (Sexson, Ibanez-Edmonds, Rolen) and a young spark plug outfielder to boot (Adam Jones-Chris Duncan). They had Pujols and we have Ichiro which are two different players, but both ignite offenses just in different ways, and you have to think that with our better bullpen, if we happen to get hot at the right time and our SP’s give us any decent type of pitching we could really pull this thing out. Man, if we can make it, I’m excited to watch this team. Even after all of my whining and complaining about Bavasi’s and McLaren’s idiocy.

  26. terry on August 25th, 2007 3:51 pm

    #25: Right but they had Edmonds, Spezio, Weaver, Eckstein and Benji Molina’s brother. The Ms only have Guillen, Washburn and Weaver.

  27. lailaihei on August 25th, 2007 4:00 pm

    I like our odds of playoffs, now. Look at the pitching matchups we have against LA next week. Good stuff…

    I don’t think I can stomach watching another HoRam start, though, so I think I’ll just take a day off.
    BoSox are tearing up the ChiSox by the way.

  28. Jack Howland on August 25th, 2007 4:03 pm

    A “severe slide” by either the Mariners or Angels will greatly help the Yankees.

  29. scottg02 on August 25th, 2007 4:12 pm

    I think we should steal part of the ’95 ‘Refuse to Lose’ motto….. The 2007 Seattle Mariners, Refuse to Regress to the mean!

  30. davepaisley on August 25th, 2007 4:13 pm

    Well, duh.

    A severe slide by a contending team that drops them out of contention automatically helps the teams they are competing with.

  31. Jack Howland on August 25th, 2007 4:21 pm

    Patronizing is not very becoming Dave Paisley.

    My minor point was that Derek’s post implicated that the Yankees benefit most from a Mariner slide but it turns out an Angel slide would benefit them nearly as much.

    Sorry to have to spell that out to you.

  32. dcmarinerfan on August 25th, 2007 4:25 pm

    Yankees just take a 2-0 lead — top of the first.

  33. dcmarinerfan on August 25th, 2007 4:29 pm

    Also, how is it that I pay $180 to get Extra Innings out here in DC and yet I can’t get either tonight’s or tomorrow’s games? This is proposterous.

  34. shortbus on August 25th, 2007 4:32 pm

    33: Because the MLB had antediluvian broadcast rights agreements. I won’t give them any of my money until I can pay them to watch every game my team plays on television in HD.

  35. davepaisley on August 25th, 2007 4:33 pm


    Please inform me if the sky is blue and the clouds are white. I am sadly woefully underinformed on those topics.

  36. dcmarinerfan on August 25th, 2007 4:35 pm

    #34 — Well, the only broadcast rights that I know of are ESPN’s Sunday night game, and FOX has rights to games before 7EST on Saturdays. Other than that we get nearly everything. It’s probably more a thing of not having enough channels to show the 13 games tonight. But still, who wants to see Florida at Cincinnatti tonight?

  37. terry on August 25th, 2007 4:41 pm

    Please inform me if the sky is blue and the clouds are white. I am sadly woefully underinformed on those topics.

    Hopefully this isn’t too technical for ya:

    At this point Yankees fans should be hoping for some team to go on a slide because while the Yanks certainly are capable of playing .600 ball down the stretch, it’s a lot to have to do…

  38. shortbus on August 25th, 2007 4:45 pm

    36 Yeah I forgot about the limited number of channels. They still need to be smart enough to broadcast playoff contenders over non-contenders. The incredibly stupid thing is that the television broadcast rights supercede the online rights. So I can’t pay to see my team play on the internet. Like anyone would choose to watch a game on the internet over watching it on TV. MLB needs to buy the internet broadcast rights back from the rights-holders so you can actually watch your team play when you’re not near a television.

  39. davepaisley on August 25th, 2007 4:53 pm

    It’s as simple as this.

    If the M’s go .500 (18-18) the rest of the way, the Yanks need to go .588 (20-14) to tie, and the Tigers .647 (22-12).

    If the M’s go .583 (21-15), the Yanks have to go .676 (23-11) and the Tigers .735 (25-9) to tie.

    I think those bracket the likely range of performance for the M’s.

  40. Pete Livengood on August 25th, 2007 4:54 pm

    In #12, DMZ wrote:

    w/r/t anyone’s playoff odds: they’re estimations based on the current season situation. They could, indeed, be back at 34% by the end of the month.

    But if you go check out how they (or coolstandings or whoever) do their stuff, you’ll see why they’re interesting measures of a team’s position.

    This is very true. I started following coolstandings a while back, and regardless of whether the Mariners are ahead of the Yankees (or Detroit, when they were our closest pursuer) in the WC, they consistently gave much higher percentage probabilities of those teams winning the WC than the M’s. For instance, right now, despite a 3-game lead in the WC over the Yankees, coolstandings shows the Yankees with a 46.2% chance of winning the WC, while the M’s have only a 34.9% chance of winning the WC. Of course, some of this is because coolstandings views the Mariners’ chance of winning their division mmore probable than the Yankees winning theirs, but even so, all teams given a chance of winning the AL WC other than the M’s or Angels equals well more than 50%, and the Yankees far more than anyone (and the chances of it being an AL West team are only slightly better, at 47.3%, than the current chance listed for the Yankees).

    So, I read about how they come to these probabilities. They simulate the rest of the season a million times after each night’s games are played, and then total up how many times each team wins their division, the WC, etc. They rely heavily on James’ pythag theorem and RS/RA projections, which explains why the M’s don’t fare as well in their simulations (as pythag shows them significantly outperforming their expected RA/RS W-L projection). They also take into account home games vs. road games, and strength of remaining schedule. The Yankees play 16 of their remaining 34 games at home (including three agains the M’s in which ground could be made up – or lost – quickly), and 22 of those 34 games are against teams right at (Toronto) or significantly below .500 (Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Kansas City). The Mariners, by contrast, play 19 of their remaining 36 games on the road (20 if you count half of that 9/26 double-header as a “road” game, which technically it is), and 27 of their 36 remaining games are against teams at (Oakland, Toronto) or significantly above .500 (LA, Cleveland, Detroit, New York).

    When you look at their methodology, it’s pretty easy to see why the simulations favor the Yankees in the WC, and why – with seven games remaining, head-to-head – the M’s focus should be squarely on the division.

  41. CC Rosco on August 25th, 2007 5:26 pm

    re 33
    I live in Jacksonville and have extra innings through Comcast. My subscription alots 13 channels for the MLB, yet like you I won’t be able to view the M’s tonight. Not that I wanted to, but I won’t be able to view the D-Rays or Marlins games through extra innings (although they are both on basic cable). So of the 13 channels available for broadcast 11 are booked for games, 2 of which are blacked out and 1 Balt/Minn is on a rain delay. This still leaves 2 channels available for broadcasting the M’s yet … whatever this sucks

  42. MKT on August 26th, 2007 11:02 am

    10. Why should we trust BP’s playoff odds? One week ago our playoff odds were at 34%, today it is 56%. Before September comes it can be right back at 34%.

    I trust BP a little more than the other playoff estimators, partly because they thoroughly explain their methodology and in particular they include regression to the mean.

    But I still find BP’s playoff probabilities to often be not very plausible, for the reason that you cite: they give unrealistically high or low playoff probabilities, ones which jump around too much after single wins or losses, much as many fans’ psyches soar unreasonably high or low after wins or losses.

    I suspect that BP needs to do even more regression to the mean in their playoff calculations.

    Finally however, I should add that those comments are most relevant for the early season calculations. At this point in the season, we have a much better idea of which teams can truly be expected to be above .500 in their remaining games vs which can be expected to scuffle around .500. So most any reasonable algorithm should lead to similar, and reasonable, estimates.

    Eg. BP’s three various algorithms all put the Mariners in the same ballpark in terms of playoff probability, from 47.5% to 52.6%. CoolStandings is right in the middle of those, 49.6%.

    And at this point in the season, the jumping around of probabilities probably does truly reflect how a win or loss affects each team’s playoff probabilities.

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