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:
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.