Initial BP Playoff Odds Have Cubs at 82.2%, Plus Fun with Simulations

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Initial BP Playoff Odds Have Cubs at 82.2%, Plus Fun with Simulations

Analysis and Commentary

cubs win standings flags scoreboard

Back at the end of February, FanGraphs released its initial Playoff Odds, which gave the Cubs a 94.4% chance of reaching the playoffs in 2016.

And then Cubs fans collectively fainted.

To put that in perspective, the Cubs had a roughly 97.3% chance to make the playoffs at the end of August, 2015 – when they had a 7.5 game lead over the Giants for the second Wild Card – with just about 30 games to go. So, yeah, this is about as good as pre-season playoff odds projections get.

Which is why you should be encouraged, not disappointed, with the newly-released Baseball Prospectus Playoffs Odds, which project the Cubs to have a slightly lower chance at making the playoffs in 2016.

According to BP, the Cubs stand an almost-equally awesome 82.2% chance of reaching the playoffs in 2016. And, although that is much lower than the 94.4% FanGraphs projected, it is still the second best in all of baseball (the Los Angeles Dodgers are just slightly ahead, with an 82.9% chance of reaching the playoffs in 2016).

But if that isn’t enough excitement for you, how about this number: 12.3%.

That’s the percent chance the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in 2016. And again, even though it’s just behind the Indians* (12.8%) and the Dodgers (12.6%), that is an extraordinarily high number at this point in the year, and is just half a percentage point away from being the top mark in MLB.

You can and should check out the rest of the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds here, as there are plenty of interesting pieces to take away. For example, BP projects the Cubs, Dodgers, and Mets to take the NL Divisions, with the Giants and Nationals sneaking in the back door as the Wild Cards. In the American League, the Astros, Indians and Rays are projected to take the divisions, with the Red Sox and White Sox grabbing the final two Wild Card Spots (what an insanely different American League this is than a decade ago).

Finally, you should note that the BP Playoff Odds are calculated by running a simulation of the season 1 million times (no, seriously, that’s exactly how many times the system is run) using the PECOTA projection system. Of course, with one million simulations, BP analyzes many potential outcomes to land on a final figure representing the amount of wins any one team is likely to finish with at year’s end. And while that final figure has a large, significant sample size, outliers still exist.

Crazy, very unlikely, but insanely interesting outliers.

So, at BP, Sam Miller took those outliers and placed them in a chart for your enjoyment. Using the best and worst outcomes (out of a 1 million trial simulation), Miller displays the highest and lowest water mark each team could – at least technically – win or lose in 2016. At the top, you’ll find the NY Mets who, in at least one simulation, were capable of winning 123 games. At the very bottom, you find the Minnesota Twins with a paltry 39 wins, in their doomsday scenario.

For their part, the Cubs’ high water mark in the 2016 simulations is 121 wins – just barely behind the Mets, and tied for second place. And their lowest simulation, 58 wins, is actually the fourth best in baseball, tied with the Nationals.

It’s an entirely different, but fun (and probably pretty ineffective), way of looking at each team, but it’s definitely worth your time. So, then, who’s taking my $1 bet (with million to 1 odds) that the Cubs win 121 games in 2016?

*[Brett: Nah, PECOTA. Nah.]


Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.