Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Odds and Ends


I was looking at the projections for the postseason in baseball. There are various sites that calculate the odds daily. The odds are based on programs that simulate the baseball season a million times from whatever start date you enter. As of today, the Yankees have a 90% chance of making the playoffs. 87% of the time in the simulation, they win the division and 3% of the time they win the wild card. The Red Sox have a 23% chance of making the playoffs. 12.5% of the time they win the division and 11% of the time they win the wild card. According to the computer simulations, the Blue Jays don't factor into the equation as either the Yankees or Red Sox win the division 99.9% of the time. So after the usual off season changes from the Blue Jays and Orioles, we have once again come down to the Yankees and Red Sox.

The daily projections are a great tool. They can also give your team hope even if they've fallen on some hard times. The computer always had the Yankees winning the division even when they were a couple of games behind the Red Sox. My friend Wayne Deming is a Padres fan and he can take heart in the fact that even though the Padres have fallen out of first in the NL west, the computer still picks them as the team most likely to make the playoffs besides the three division leaders. The Mets have the tightest hold on a playoff spot with a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs.

The Red Sox have finished second to the Yankees for the past eight years and have had a stranglehold on the wild card in the AL for the past three seasons. This season is going to be tricky. For most of the season the baseball commentators have been saying that winning the AL east was going to be the only ticket to the playoffs for the Yankees or Red Sox. That is not necessarily the case anymore. The Yankees and the White Sox are currently in a virtual tie, and the Red Sox trail them both by only 3 games. The Yankees and Red Sox still have nine games left against each other. They will more than likely basically split those games. I don't see either making a significant move on the other in those games. Their head to head record over their last 81 games against each other is 41-40 in favor of the Red Sox. I don't see that trend changing in the next nine games. The White Sox will have to deal with both the Twins and the Tigers in the next month and a half, so the central teams should have fun beating up on each other as well.

The odds are in the Yankees favor and that's a good thing. I'm always happy when the Yankees are projected to win. However the games are not played in computer or on paper. The games are played on the field by less than perfect human beings. I know what the computer says, but anything can still happen. The Yankees could suffer a major injury, they could just start playing like crap. The Red Sox could go on a long winning streak and they could also fall apart. The computer says the Yankees are going to win the division by 6-1/2 games. I say, I'll believe it when I see it.

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