MLB Playoff Odds II

So I re-ran the odds after tonight’s games. In case you didn’t hear, the Red Sox beat the Yankees (crap), and the White Sox beat the Indians (ehh … good I guess, because although I was hoping the Indians would beat out the Red Sox for the Wild Card, I suddenly need to worry about the Yankees beating out the Indians …). Here’s the update:

96-66 94-68 99-63 93-69 NYY wins ALE; BOS wins WC 1 1 1 0
96-66 94-68 98-64 94-68 NYY wins ALE; 1GP CLE@BOS 1 0.5 1 0.5
96-66 94-68 97-65 95-67 NYY wins ALE; CLE wins WC 1 0 1 1
95-67 95-67 99-63 93-69 NYY wins ALE; BOS wins WC 1 1 1 0
95-67 95-67 98-64 94-68 NYY wins ALE; BOS wins WC 1 1 1 0
95-67 95-67 97-65 95-67 1GP BOS@NYY; 1GP NYY@CLE/CLE@BOS 0.75 0.75 1 0.5
94-68 96-66 99-63 93-69 BOS wins ALE; NYY wins WC 1 1 1 0
94-68 96-66 98-64 94-68 BOS wins ALE; 1GP NYY@CLE 0.5 1 1 0.5
94-68 96-66 97-65 95-67 BOS wins ALE; CLE wins WC 0 1 1 1
Out of 9: 7.25 7.25 9 3.5
Out of 100: 80.56 80.56 100.0 38.89

We’re now down to nine possible outcomes. The Yankee sweeps and Indian sweeps are gone.

Obviously the most surprising change is that the even though the Yankees lost, their odds of making the playoffs are essentially unchanged — increased by less than one percentage point. What it translates to is that the Yankees had one throw-away game. And they’ve used it. No more.

The next surprising thing is not that the Indians’ odds have dropped, but the fact that they’ve dropped so much. Their odds went down by more than 23 percentage points. It’s one game — why are their odds hurt so much? The answer is that before tonight’s games, the Indians were competing with one team for the Wild Card: Boston. Now the Indians are competing with both the Yankees and the Red Sox. Had the Yankees won tonight, they would have had greater than a 97% percent chance of getting in, and the Red Sox and Indians would have been nearly tied around 50% each. (In fact, the Indians would have had exactly 50%, and the Red Sox would have had 50% plus the leftover 2½% or so that the Yankees had not yet sewed up.)

Because the Indians had been competing only with the Red Sox, they would have benefitted most from a Yankees sweep of the Red Sox.

Incredibly, all three teams still control their own destiny. If the Yankees or Red Sox win the next two games, they would win the AL East. If the Indians win the next two against the White Sox, the worst they can be left with is the “nightmare scenario,” and a one game playoff against the loser of the Yankees-Red Sox one game playoff.

If the White Sox sweep the Indians, then both the Yankees and Red Sox are guaranteed spots in the playoffs. Should this happen, the Yankees have a slight advantage over the Red Sox, for the same reason that they White Sox have already clinched the AL Central: Should two teams tie for their division, but both are guaranteed playoff spots, the head-to-head record is used as a tiebreaker, rather than a one-game playoff. The Yankees currently have a 9-8 lead against the Red Sox. If they split the next two, the Yankees would have 10-9 edge, and the division crown.

MLB Playoff Odds II