2016 MLB Probabilities of Making the Playoffs (September 4th Edition)

After another 92 games this past week, we watched the Cubs and Rangers continue to scorch the competition, the Red Sox finally catch the Blue Jays for first in the A.L. East, the Dodgers maintain pace for a lead in the N.L. West, and the Tigers surge to put a little separation on the Royals while putting a little heat on the Baltimore Orioles for the second wild card spot.

The results were fairly predicted, as the expected number of wins for each team barely adjusted. However, the probabilities made a little shuffle. As of last Sunday, the teams with the best chances of making the playoffs were the Red Sox, Royals, Blue Jays, Indians, Rangers, Dodgers, Cardinals, Cubs, Nationals, Giants. In the fairly stable National League, we should see the same. However, with roughly 27 games remaining for all teams, the American League is about to go into bonanza mode over the wild card positions with eight teams within 7 games of each other heading into the final full month of play.

Currently, the standings as of Sunday morning are:

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 10.08.56 AM

2016 MLB Standings as of the morning of September 4, 2016.

With three of the divisions still considered close: A.L. East, A.L. Central, and N.L. Central, some large-stakes series are looming. Such as Toronto vs. Boston (6 games), Cleveland vs. Detroit (7 games), and Los Angeles vs. San Francisco (6 games). Also, from the eight teams locked around the wild card spots, effectively pick any of the remaining 47 games between any two of the wild-card challenging teams.

Currently, based on the season from day one to today, the probabilities of winning the division (PWD), winning a wild card spot (PWC), and the overall probability of making the playoffs (PMP) are given as:

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 10.09.07 AM

Probabilities of winning the division (PWD), winning a wild card spot (PWC), and making the playoffs (PMP) for the 2016 season. (As of 4 September, 2016)

Currently, the projected playoffs are as follows:

  • American League Wild Card: Boston Red Sox (89-73) vs. Kansas City Royals (86-76)
  • American League Division Series: Texas Rangers (96-66) vs. Wild Card; Cleveland Indians (96-66) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (90-72)


  • National League Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers (89-73) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (85-77)
  • National League Division Series: Chicago Cubs (104-58) vs. Wild Card; Washington Nationals (96-66) vs. San Francisco Giants (88-74)

Wait a second. Dodgers have more wins but not the National League West? Yes. That’s because the expected records are averages. Instead, we select teams based on probabilities. What this means is that the Dodgers have a heavily skewed to the right distribution compare to the Giants. Therefore their average will be higher than the Giants, but not the probability.

As mentioned earlier, the probabilities have changed quite a bit, but the order is still relatively the same; and even more so the teams predicted to make the playoffs are the same and in the same order. But how do the probabilities change the probabilities of making the playoffs?

Projected World Series Championship Probabilities:

  1. Texas Rangers: 20.4647%
  2. Chicago Cubs: 17.9726%
  3. Toronto Blue Jays: 12.4070%
  4. San Francisco Giants: 11.5012%
  5. Washington Nationals: 9.4940%
  6. Cleveland Indians: 9.3266%
  7. Los Angeles Dodgers: 6.6423%
  8. Boston Red Sox: 6.6019%
  9. St. Louis Cardinals: 4.4823%
  10. Kansas City Royals 1.1074%

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