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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fangraphs: New Wild Cards and the Playoff-Probability Curve

Under the old rules, teams needed only to get into the playoffs to make the division round, so getting to the 90-win threshold had a very high marginal value. Under the new rules, teams can get into the postseason at about 87 wins, but they’re not guaranteed a spot in the division series unless they win their division. That takes about 93 wins. Therefore, wins No. 87 through 92 are less important than they used to be — but wins below 87 and above 92 are more important.

To sum up, teams that win 88 or fewer games are better off in 2012 because they have a better chance of making the division series than they used to. Teams that win 89 games or more are worse off because there’s now the possibility they have to play-in to the division series — something they previously might not have had to do. This effect extends all the way into the 100-plus win teams. Remember the 2001 A’s? They won 102 games, but finished second in the American League West, behind the 116-win Mariners. In the new playoff system, Oakland would have had to play 85-win Minnesota in a one-game playoff.

You can argue how that game would have turned out, but there is no question that the A’s would have had one fewer chance making it to the divisional round playing the Twins than they would have by simply hopping on a plane.

bobm Posted: July 21, 2012 at 01:48 PM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: playoffs, wild card

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