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August 2, 2014

Trade Deadline

Yesterday In Changing Playoff Odds

by Sam Miller and Tim Collins


We can write about the prospects who can’t locate glove-side, we can write about the fantasy implications of a fourth-outfielder logjam, we can write about the strengths and weaknesses of each player traded and we can give our best assessment of each team’s competitive windows. But what you really want to know is this:

Are the Brewers (or the A’s, or the Orioles, or name a team) any more likely to make the playoffs today than they were before they made the TA-worthy trade? Any by how much?

So here we’ve run the playoff odds report before and after every major trade at this deadline, starting with Felix Doubront to the Cubs. (That one didn’t change much.) We’ve reset the depth charts for each team, then let PECOTA have a go at the rest of the season. We’ll focus on how each move affected specifically the team that made it, though of course any added percentage points gained (or lost) have to come from (or go) somewhere, so the other teams’ odds are changing along the way. Here are the major moves of the July 31st trade deadline, as told through a series of changing playoff odds:

(Note: Playoff odds are chances of making any postseason appearance. Adjusted playoff odds are the chances of making a division series, either by winning the division or winning the wild card game.)

Cardinals trade for Justin Masterson
Cardinals before: 53.4 percent to make the playoffs; 42.8 percent adjusted.
Cardinals after: 53.4 percent to make the playoffs; 43.7 percent adjusted.

A's acquire Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes
A’s before: 63.9 percent to win the division; 82.6 percent adjusted
A’s after: 66.1 percent to win the division; 83.9 percent adjusted

Joe Kelly and Allen Craig traded by Cardinals to Red Sox for John Lackey
Cardinals before: 54.1 percent playoffs; 43.6 percent adjusted
Cardinals after: 52.9 percent playoffs; 42.4 percent adjusted

Gerardo Parra traded by Diamondbacks to Brewers
Brewers before: 66.4 percent playoffs; 52.3 percent adjusted
Brewers after: 65.9 percent playoffs; 51.5 percent adjusted

Nationals acquire Asdrubal Cabrera
Nationals before: 75.0 percent division; 81.3 percent division
Nationals after: 76.7 percent division; 83.3 percent division

Mariners add Austin Jackson for Nick Franklin
Mariners before: 18.7 percent playoffs; 8.9 percent playoffs
Mariners after: 19.3 percent playoffs; 9.3 percent playoffs

Tigers add David Price for Drew Smyly, Austin Jackson
Tigers before: 87.3 percent division, 89.1 percent adjusted
Tigers after: 86.7 percent division, 88.2 percent adjusted

Rays trade David Price for Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin
Rays before: 11.3 percent playoffs, 7.9 percent adjusted
Rays after: 10.4 percent playoffs, 7.3 percent adjusted

Yankees trade Kelly Johnson; acquire Stephen Drew and Martin Prado
Yankees before: 16.2 percent playoffs, 11.4 percent adjusted
Yankees after: 17.5 percent playoffs, 12.3 percent adjusted

Orioles trade for Andrew Miller
Orioles before: 76.7 percent playoffs, 64.8 percent adjusted
Orioles after: 77.0 percent playoffs, 65.2 percent adjusted

And, for the grand finale, the day’s starting and ending World Series odds for all 30 teams:

Team Starting odds Finishing odds Change
ANA 14.1 13.8 -0.3
ARI 0 0 0
ATL 2.6 2.2 -0.4
BAL 4.5 4.7 0.2
BOS 0 0 0
CHA 0.1 0.1 0
CHN 0 0 0
CIN 0.6 0.6 0
CLE 0.8 0.7 -0.1
COL 0 0 0
DET 12.1 12.6 0.5
HOU 0 0 0
KCA 0.9 0.6 -0.3
LAN 16.5 16.8 0.3
MIA 0.1 0.1 0
MIL 3.7 3.6 -0.1
MIN 0 0 0
NYA 0.7 0.9 0.2
NYN 0.1 0.1 0
OAK 14.1 15.2 1.1
PHI 0 0 0
PIT 2.8 2.8 0
SDN 0 0 0
SEA 0.9 1.1 0.2
SFN 3.7 3.8 0.1
SLN 3.5 3.5 0
TBA 0.9 0.9 0
TEX 0 0 0
TOR 5.8 4.4 -1.4
WAS 11.8 11.8 0

So how to process these. First, I’d recommend not getting too hung up on any individual projection. PECOTA hates John Lackey, for instance. You might not. It’s fine that we have disagreements, and if you want to stick with your belief that there’s no way the Cardinals got worse by trading for Lackey, I’ll stand right there with you, friend. The more important lesson to take from this is what connects all of these: The changes are incredibly small. No team went from a borderline contender to the favorite, no matter how good the player they added. If the Tigers win the World Series, or the A’s win the World Series, it will be aided by the trades made yesterday—but it’s only a small part of the vast project that each team’s front office has been building all these years.

The best you can realistically hope for is that one extra out gets put in the deck for you before the river. A couple-percent bump to make the playoffs, maybe one percent to win the World Series. It’s awfully hard to break a team with one injury, and it’s awfully hard to make it something it’s not with one trade.

Huge thanks to Rob McQuown for helping put this together.

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

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