07 October 2016

NLDS Play Begins with Nats, Cubs Favored as Jays, Tribe Pull Ahead

This post is one in a series about the 2016 MLB Playoffs and World Series.

The Toronto Blue Jays are the new frontrunners in the American League after their 10-1 drubbing of the top-seeded Texas Rangers. In Cleveland, the Indians outperformed the Red Sox, improving their World Series expectancy to 13%. As for today, NLDS action gets underway with the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals expected to advance over the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, respectively.

The Rangers were already a weak top seed heading into the first round of the playoffs. After yesterday's defeat, they're much, much weaker. With an RPScore now below .500, my simulator gives Toronto 2:1 odds to sweep and has them winning the series one way or another 80 times out of 100. The Rangers' best hope remains forcing a fifth game, a possibility the simulator estimates at 30%.

The story is different in the other AL Division Series. The Boston Red Sox arrived in Cleveland as my favorites over the higher-seeded Indians, but with the Tribe's victory last night the home team is now in the driver's seat. While the single most likely outcome remains a Sox victory (in five), the Cuyahoga Willie Mays Hayeses are now 60% favorites.

On the Senior Circuit, the Chicago Cubs open at home heavily favored over the San Francisco Giants in the National League Division Series. With only a 30% expectancy to advance, the Giants' best hope is to push the series to five games (and even then they wouldn't be the favorite).

Finally, both the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers hope to exorcise some playoff demons in their particular division series. This contest is currently the closest of the four, with the Nats marginal 54% favorites over the lower-seeded Dodgers. Take these numbers with a grain of salt, however, as Washington suffered some late injuries to valuable contributors such as Stephen Strasburg and Wilson Ramos. I have a hunch that the Nats' RPScore has not yet internalized those losses. I would just flip a coin on this one.

Stay tuned to see how the results of the first full day of 2016 MLB Postseason play affect the World Series chances of these eight hopefuls.

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