16 October 2015

Model Picks Cubs over Mets in NL as LCS Play Commences

This post is part of a series about the 2015 MLB Postseason. Follow along here.

It's going to take a lot for the two League Championship Series to live up to the thrill of all four Division Series contests. In the ALCS, the top-rated Toronto Blue Jays threaten to make quick work of the Kansas City Royals, so the AL Central representatives will have to play above their estimated talent (or the Jays will have to play below theirs) if they're going to turn their series into the roller coaster ride that the ALDS was.

With their victory in game five over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets increased their odds of winning the World Series to 6:1, longest of all the remaining competitors but neck-and neck with the Royals. The Dodgers, National League favorites before the Cubs won their play-in game, never reclaimed their position, muddling along until their elimination last night.

Rational Pastime's playoff simulator expects a Jays win in five as the most likely outcome, with the Royals' best chance a win at home in seven games. Here, I would like to reiterate my belief that my model is overestimating the gap in talent between Toronto and Kansas City. The 66% chance that my simulator gives Toronto to advance is about eight percentage points higher than the vig-adjusted line in Vegas. This is extreme, especially for the "road" team. While I still expect Toronto to win, I think my model is overconfident.

In comparison, the NLCS match-up between the Mets and the Chicago Cubs looks fairly even, with the Cubs enjoying a 58% chance to advance, most likely in five or six games. The Mets' best chance, like the Royals, is to force a seventh game in Flushing.

Just as it did at the start of Division Series play, the single most likely World Series outcome is a Blue Jays win over the Cubs in six games. The Cubs best chance is to take down Toronto in seven: the seventh most likely outcome out of 32 possibilities. The Royals best hope is to take out the Cubs in seven games, while the Mets should look to go the whole way with the Toronto Blue Jays: results that are the 14th and 16th most likely outcomes, respectively.

Will a Royals win tonight rationalize the model's ALCS projection? Will a Blue Jays win turn Kansas City into simulated long-shots? Tune in tomorrow to find out.

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