As I prepare for the second half of the MLB season, I was perusing the standings and started to try to piece together the playoff puzzle. I came up with a pretty simple question: How many current division leaders will end up winning their division? Divisional leads span from a 2-game lead held by the Orioles to a 7-game lead held by the Cubs. Rather than just blurt out a guess, I went to fangraphs to look at their playoff odds. While I don’t 100% agree with their projections, it is a good barometer to what we can expect to see come October.
First, let’s take a look at the current division leaders and their divisional odds according to Fangraphs:
Every division leader is a favorite to win except the Orioles who are being hunted by the Red Sox and the Blue Jays, both considered to be better teams in the eyes of many. But to answer my question, just a little bit of math is involved. To find out if all six teams will win, that’s simple: just multiply all of their chances together. You can continue to do that math for each possible scenario. You end up with the following percentages for each outcome:
|# of Teams||Odds||Moneyline|
The most likely scenario is that two teams currently leading their division won’t be at the top of the standings after 162 games. (The most likely subset of that scenario is that the Orioles and Rangers are the two teams to falter.) Another prop that we could come up would be an Over/Under of 4.5 teams. Over 4.5 would be fairly priced at +232 while Under 4.5 would then be -232.
So to answer my own question, I’ll take 3 teams to go on and win their division. I like the Astros in the AL West, the Blue Jays in the AL East, and one other team that will surprise us in one of the other four divisions. Dodgers perhaps? Cardinals maybe? We’ll have to wait until the season is over to find out.