25 August 2017

Ratings and Projections through 8/24: Same Three-Way Tie in Wild Card Race, Different Cast

Once again, I project that three teams will finish tied for the second American League Wild Card spot. Last week it was the Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers. This week, one AL contender has replaced the Angels. Which one is it?

Projected End-of-Season Win Totals with 80% Prediction Intervals

Top Teams through 8/24:
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (.641)
  2. Houston Astros (.597)
  3. New York Yankees (.578)
  4. Cleveland Indians (.576)
  5. Washington Nationals (.572)

Projected AL Seeds:*
  1. Houston (98 - 64)
  2. Boston Red Sox (92 - 70)
  3. Cleveland (92 - 70)
  4. New York (89 - 73; 1st WC)
  5. Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins or Texas Rangers (82-80; 2nd WC)

Projected NL Seeds:*
  1. Los Angeles  (114 - 18)
  2. Washington (98 - 64)
  3. Chicago Cubs (88 - 74)
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks (88 - 74; 1st WC)
  5. Colorado Rockies (86 - 76; 2nd WC)
  6. St. Louis Cardinals (83 - 79; 1st out)
*Margin of error (80% prediction interval): +/- 4.5 wins

Comments and Observations:
  • Congratulations to those of you who guessed correctly (or consulted the visualization above the jump): the Minnesota Twins are now poised to fight for that last ALWC spot.
  • Beyond the Royals, Rangers and Twins, the Angels (one game out), Seattle Mariners (one game out) Tampa Bay Rays (three games out) and Baltimore Orioles (four games out) all currently project to finish within the margin of error (4.5 games) of extra baseball.
  • Three more teams are within the margin of error of the NL's second wild card, with the St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers all within striking distance of the Colorado Rockies.
  • It hasn't been the case most of the season, but the Brewers and Cardinals now have an easier path to the wild card than to the AL Central title.
  • The San Francisco Giants are sooooo close... to finishing 50 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • The Dodgers still have a better-than-10% chance of winning a record 117 games.
  • With the Astros recent dip, LA is the only team currently projected to win 100+.
  • Good pitching and defense have played a role: the Dodgers have allowed the fewest runs, hits doubles, dingers, walks, total bases and Base Runs.
  • Luck has also played a role, as the Dodgers are playing 74 points better than their RP Score.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Philadelphia Phillies are playing 62 points worse than their estimated true record.
  • The Phillies are also the only team projecting to lose 100 or more.
  • Philly has a near-lock on the worst 2017 record, projecting to finish 61 - 101, four games behind the Giants and the Chicago White Sox.
  • The away team won 12 games (out of 16) on Tuesday, August 22.
  • That ties a season high dating all the way back to April 12 (which featured only 15 games).
  • The home team has won 53.8% of all games this year with a run differential of +309.

Good Links:
  • Baseball is dying.* That's why MLB broadcasts are dominating their local markets this summer, according to Maury Brown (warning: interstitial ad alert).
  • Baseball physicist (and automatic link here at RP) Dr. Alan Nathan presents his own research on the home run surge and the theories advanced by Rob Arthur, Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman (warning: Newtonian mechanics alert).
  • Ashley MacLennan provides us with a thoughtful take about what happens when umpires make themselves the center of attention and controversy. I have a rather less measured one: we should never notice the umpire. The moment we notice the umpire, the game becomes lesser. The amount of attention granted the umpire is inversely proportionate to the enjoyment of the game. Attention paid umpires is bad, ceteris paribus.
  • That said, umps can still play a role as traffic cops, arbiters of in-play events and stewards of the pace of game, as Travis Sawchik notes.
*Baseball's not dying.

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