2023 SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards: Voting Open Now!

I'm dumb, so when I see something like the Angels falling nine games out of first place after 31 games, I think "welp, that'll do it then." And then when I look at the playoff odds and see that they're still 20 percent likely to make the playoffs, I'm surprised. I understand the mechanisms at work — the Angels are probably a good team, and so the odds expect them to play like a good team going forward — but it's impossible to imagine any team making up an 11-20 stretch. It's impossible to imagine it because I'm dumb. It shouldn't be that hard to imagine.

The worst 31-game stretches by last year's playoff teams: 

Rangers: 15-16
Yankees: 14-17
Orioles: 12-19
Tigers: 11-20
A's: 10-21

Giants: 15-16
Reds: 15-16
Nationals: 15-16
Braves: 13-18
Cardinals: 11-20

A lot of other teams had stretches this bad and didn't make the playoffs, so you know, it's not good. It's really not good to have a stretch like this at the start, leaving no room for another stretch like this. But this is why the Angels, Dodgers, Blue Jays aren't at zero, and why, like me, you might be dumb for expecting otherwise. 



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The best explanation may be that 26, 16, and 24 BP writers picked them to win their divisions! And we know they can't be wrong can they?
Wait a minute, what? The reason that virtually no team -- but especially, no team that should be a .500-plus team -- should have less than a 20% chance to make the playoffs, is that there are about 130 games yet to play. A 20% chance to make the playoffs is a longshot; I looked at the Vegas odds, to wint the pennant (not just the playoffs) the Angels are listed at 11/2. the Dodgers at 5/1, and the Jays at 15/1. And those odds are based on all the bets -- not on the Pecota analysis. Now, maybe you don't put any stock in Pecota, but I'd be tempted to go against the "common wisdom" and take a chance betting on the writers' predictions at those odds.
I'm sure there's some correlation, but causation seems unlikely. Both PECOTA and the BP writers picked those teams due in no small part to the sexy offseason acquisitions they made. Now that we're a month into the season and many of those stars are underperforming/injured, PECOTA is slowly backing away from its initial optimism. What's wrong with that?
No less than 8 BP writers picked the trifecta of the Angels, Blue Jays, and the Dodgers ALL to win their divisions.

Jonah Birenbaum
Mike Gianella
Joe Hamilton
Zachary Levine
Ben Lindbergh
Bret Sayre
Paul Singman
John Viola
Sorry that was Joe Hamrahi not Joe Hamilton