MLB Playoff Odds: Houston Astros Still Lead Pack

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - APRIL 20: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 20, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

In the last full week of the first full month of the Major League Baseball regular season, not a lot has changed in the projected playoffs odds. The heavy favorites from the beginning of the season retain those positions, for the most part, led by the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros.

In the updated playoff odds on both Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs, Houston leads all MLB teams in likelihood that the team reaches the playoffs, either as a division winner or one of the two wild-card teams. The models take into account a multitude of factors like player injuries, various player statistics to this point in the season, the performance of the teams left to play on the schedules and other items.

Baseball Prospectus favors the Astros a little less than FanGraphs, posting their percentage at 96.9 versus 98.6. In both models, however, the Astros are as near a lock as possible. In the National League, both models give the Los Angeles Dodgers the highest probability of qualifying for the playoffs, which is no change from the preseason projections.

These numbers actually represent an increase of Houston’s chances since the season began. The preseason odds gave Houston a 94.9 percent chance to make the playoffs on FanGraphs. At the beginning of the season, the New York Yankees had the highest probability of qualifying for the postseason in FanGraph’s model.

Going .500 in 20 games since then has seriously decreased the Yankees’ chances in both models. FanGraphs has dropped their likelihood to 84.1 percent, while Baseball Prospectus currently pegs them at 76.9 percent. The biggest drop of any team since the beginning of the season belongs to the Yankees’ division rival, the Boston Red Sox. At just 40.5 percent on BP and 57.3 on FG, the Red Sox have fallen far from their 90.6 likelihood prior to Opening Day.

In terms of moving up, no one has matched the ascent of the Tampa Bay Rays. Slotted at just 28.6 percent likelihood before the season began, Tampa Bay has taken advantage of poor play by the Red Sox and Yankees to ascend to a 73.4 percent figure on FG and 72 percent on BP. The lowest likelihood still belongs to the Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins, who aren’t given any chance at all (zero percent) by both BP and FG models.

The top five teams in each league by playoff likelihood percentage in both models as of Sunday, April 21 are:

Baseball Prospectus American League

1. Houston Astros – 96.9
2. Cleveland Indians – 94
3. New York Yankees – 76.9
4. Tampa Bay Rays – 72
5. Minnesota Twins – 50.2

FanGraphs American League

1. Houston Astros – 98.6
2. Cleveland Indians – 89.6
3. New York Yankees – 84.1
4. Tampa Bay Rays – 73.4
5. Boston Red Sox – 57.3

Baseball Prospectus National League

1. Los Angeles Dodgers – 86.8
2. Philadelphia Phillies – 58.3
3. Milwaukee Brewers – 55.2
4. New York Mets – 51.8
5. St. Louis Cardinals – 45.6

FanGraphs National League

1. Los Angeles Dodgers – 96.7
2. Washington Nationals – 76.2
3. Philadelphia Phillies – 54.2
4. Chicago Cubs – 48.6
5. New York Mets – 43.5

Last season the preseason projections gave the Oakland Athletics a likelihood of reaching the playoffs less than 10 percent, so take these projections with a grain of salt. There are still over 140 games left for many teams in the 2019 regular season and much can happen in that time.

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