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With the playoffs coming, tracking the chances each team has to win becomes a daily sport, aided by the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds feature.

Playoff odds are based on three things:

1. Playing time estimates for each player for the rest of the season (as found in the Depth Charts).

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Ben and Sam discuss which teams have seen their chances of making the playoffs change the most since Opening Day.

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Our playoff odds simulated the season 50,000 times. In 1.3 percent of those simulations, the Astros made the playoffs. How the heck?

“If the Astros win 70 there might be a celestial event that has never been seen before.” —BP reader Old Bopper, here.


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We likely already know who is going to make the playoffs. Is there still reason to watch?

This will be painful for some of you, but cast your mind back, if you can, to the baseball standings as they looked a year ago today. Behold: a wondrous world where the White Sox are in first place, the Giants are 16 games over .500, the Nationals are the best team in baseball, and the Orioles are a half-game up on the Rays for the second AL Wild Card spot (like that will last). The names of some of the teams at the top look strange, in light of what’s transpired this season, but I spy something even stranger: pennant races. Pennant races, as far as the eye can see.

On the morning of August 30, 2012, five of the six divisions had separations of five games or fewer between first and second place. Only in the NL Central, where the Reds had an eight-game lead over St. Louis and a nine-game cushion over the collapsing Pirates, was the division title all but awarded. According to our Playoff Odds Report for that day, there were four teams with playoff percentages of over 95 percent: the Reds, the Nats, the Rangers, and the Yankees. But there were a few tiers of lesser, but still strong contenders below that: the Braves and White Sox (oops) over 80 percent; the Cardinals, at just over 60 percent; the Tigers, Rays, and A’s between 50 and 60; the Angels, Pirates, and Dodgers clustered right around 30. And the odds weren’t buying the run differential-defying Orioles, whom PECOTA gave a 20 percent chance to claim the Wild Card they eventually won. In other words, there was an awful lot still at stake.

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Ben, Sam, and guest Zachary Levine mull over four questions about Miguel Cabrera, then talk about the World Series odds of the Tigers and other teams.

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Have we been underrating big-market, high-payroll teams?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the distribution of team wins, and the discovery that the distribution may in fact be bimodal, not normal as one might expect.

One of the predictions that came from this theory was that teams right at .500 would, counterintuitively, tend to regress away from the mean. So one thing we can do is actually check to see if the real world behaves the way we expect it to. I took all teams from 1969 on with even numbers of games and split them into “halves” of even-number games. I use scare-quotes for halves since in order to boost the sample size, I split into increments of two and kept any pair where both “halves” were within 20 games of each other. Then I looked at teams that were exactly .500 in the “before” sample— 716 teams total—and saw what they did afterward:

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Now with new features, including each team's odds of advancing to the Division Series and winning the World Series.

Today, we’re launching the first iteration of our Playoff Odds Report for 2013.

Before we get underway, some notes. PECOTA does not hate your favorite team. PECOTA is a collection of algorithms, written in computer code and run by an unfeeling machine. It cannot hate, or love. It can do only what it is told to do, nothing more or less.

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BP announces a new partnership with MLB Advanced Media.

Baseball Prospectus and Major League Baseball Advanced Media have partnered to present our playoff probabilities to a new audience at MLB.com. To see the second home of the playoff probabilities, go to MLB.com, click on Standings, and navigate to the Postseason Probabilities tab. There you'll find some of the same stats you're used to seeing on our Playoff Odds Report: each team's chances of winning a division title or a wild card, as well as its overall chances of making the postseason. If you'd like to see the probabilities for any other day during the season, just select the date you want from the calendar on the upper left or use the arrows to go back or advance by one day at a time. 

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Ben and Sam discuss the impact of CC Sabathia's elbow soreness on the Yankees' short- and long-term outlooks, and the difference between winning a division and winning a wild card under the new playoff format.

Ben and Sam discuss the impact of CC Sabathia's elbow soreness on the Yankees' short- and long-term outlooks, and the difference between winning a division and winning a wild card under the new playoff format.

Effectively Wild Episode 19: "Scraping Ice"

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It's time to talk about the Texas Rangers.

Effectively Wild Episode 3: "Thunder"

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Some tweaks to the playoff odds.

Due to reader feedback, we’ve made some changes to the Playoff Odds report:

1)     Rather than rerunning sims for past days of the season, we’re locking in sims that have already been run. Originally, we were rerunning sims from previous days to make sure that only updated information was affecting the deltas, but the practice seems to have generated too much confusion as to what the deltas were supposed to mean.

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We catch and correct an error in our playoff odds.

We’ve identified incorrect data in the playoff odds report. The purpose of this post is to explain what happened, announce that it’s fixed, and offer some technical notes on the process so readers can reassure themselves that it’s now working as it should.

At the heart of the playoff odds report is a database table that contains the current-season MLB schedule. We use that table for many other products as well. After the season started, we moved many of the other products to a different schedule table that went back through the entire Retrosheet era and also included additional data. The playoff odds were a straggler, because we were working on a project that would allow us to run them for previous seasons. (The adjusted standings have been similarly modified, and soon we’ll have adjusted standings available back through 1974 on the site.) So the changes were made to the new playoff odds codebase, and the old codebase was left running on the old schedule table. Unfortunately, at some point during the season, the old schedule table stopped updating properly.

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