August 2, 2014
Yesterday In Changing Playoff Odds
We can write about the prospects who can’t locate glove-side, we can write about the fantasy implications of a fourth-outfielder logjam, we can write about the strengths and weaknesses of each player traded and we can give our best assessment of each team’s competitive windows. But what you really want to know is this:
Are the Brewers (or the A’s, or the Orioles, or name a team) any more likely to make the playoffs today than they were before they made the TA-worthy trade? Any by how much?
So here we’ve run the playoff odds report before and after every major trade at this deadline, starting with Felix Doubront to the Cubs. (That one didn’t change much.) We’ve reset the depth charts for each team, then let PECOTA have a go at the rest of the season. We’ll focus on how each move affected specifically the team that made it, though of course any added percentage points gained (or lost) have to come from (or go) somewhere, so the other teams’ odds are changing along the way. Here are the major moves of the July 31st trade deadline, as told through a series of changing playoff odds:
(Note: Playoff odds are chances of making any postseason appearance. Adjusted playoff odds are the chances of making a division series, either by winning the division or winning the wild card game.)
Cardinals trade for Justin Masterson
A's acquire Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes
Joe Kelly and Allen Craig traded by Cardinals to Red Sox for John Lackey
Gerardo Parra traded by Diamondbacks to Brewers
Nationals acquire Asdrubal Cabrera
Mariners add Austin Jackson for Nick Franklin
Tigers add David Price for Drew Smyly, Austin Jackson
Rays trade David Price for Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin
Yankees trade Kelly Johnson; acquire Stephen Drew and Martin Prado
Orioles trade for Andrew Miller
And, for the grand finale, the day’s starting and ending World Series odds for all 30 teams:
So how to process these. First, I’d recommend not getting too hung up on any individual projection. PECOTA hates John Lackey, for instance. You might not. It’s fine that we have disagreements, and if you want to stick with your belief that there’s no way the Cardinals got worse by trading for Lackey, I’ll stand right there with you, friend. The more important lesson to take from this is what connects all of these: The changes are incredibly small. No team went from a borderline contender to the favorite, no matter how good the player they added. If the Tigers win the World Series, or the A’s win the World Series, it will be aided by the trades made yesterday—but it’s only a small part of the vast project that each team’s front office has been building all these years.
The best you can realistically hope for is that one extra out gets put in the deck for you before the river. A couple-percent bump to make the playoffs, maybe one percent to win the World Series. It’s awfully hard to break a team with one injury, and it’s awfully hard to make it something it’s not with one trade.
Huge thanks to Rob McQuown for helping put this together.