A Requiem for Team Entropy – FanGraphs Baseball

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Once upon a time, mid-September introduced my annual check-in on the potential for end-of-season chaos within the playoff races through my Team Entropy collection. With the brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the restructured postseason, nonetheless, Major League Baseball has finished away with tiebreaker video games and the scheduling mayhem that they might trigger in favor of grasping a bigger stock of playoff video games. Along with the growth of the playoff discipline from 10 groups to 12 and the Wild Card spherical from a pair of winner-take-all video games to a quartet of three-game collection, MLB did away with all winner-take-all common season tiebreaker video games. In the identify of effectivity, we have now no extra Game 163s. Instead, ties will probably be determined by the joy of… arithmetic. Boooooooo!

The untangling of the often-complex eventualities by which these tiebreakers may come about was Team Entropy’s raison d’etre, though we have been capable of make do in 2020, when within the identify of minimizing journey and protecting the schedule compact to accommodate an expanded discipline, MLB equally opted to dispense with the on-field tiebreakers. That wasn’t practically as a lot enjoyable, however on the very least, it feels applicable to sketch out what’s at stake whereas pouring one out in reminiscence of what is been misplaced.

As you are in all probability conscious by now, every league’s playoff discipline will encompass six groups, specifically all three division winners plus three Wild Cards with the very best information from among the many remaining groups. The high two division winners by document get first-round byes, whereas the third division winner (no. 3 seed) performs host for all three video games in opposition to the third-best Wild Card group (no. 6 seed) and the highest Wild Card group (no. 4 seed) hosts all three video games in opposition to the second-best Wild Card group (no. 5 seed).

There’s no re-seeding after that spherical; the three/6 Wild Card winner performs the no. 2 seed whereas the 4/5 winner performs the no. 1 seed This leaves open the opportunity of a Wild Card contender dealing with a aggressive quandary because it heads into the ultimate weeks of the season: Try to set issues up in order to face the weakest of the three division winners because the sixth seed, after which — in the event that they advance — the second seed as an alternative of the primary seed reasonably than going for broke and making an attempt to get the fourth seed and home-field benefit for the Wild Card collection, solely to advance and face the highest seed within the Division Series. With simply 1.5 video games separating the Blue Jays, Rays, and Mariners high to backside, with a possible path by means of the Astros or Yankees looming within the Division Series, this is not some summary hypothetical, both. (Yahoo Sports’ Zach Crizer explored the state of affairs final week, whereas Baseball Prospectus’ Rob Mains took a glance in August.)

As famous, whether or not it is groups jockeying for seeding or merely to make the minimize for the postseason, within the occasion that two or extra groups end with the identical document, all the pieces will probably be selected paper (or pixel) reasonably than through extra video games. Like the 5 levels of grief, MLB has 5 levels of breaking the ties:

  1. Head-to-head information. This is self-explanatory relating to two-team tiebreakers, and in the event that they performed an odd variety of video games in opposition to one another, which is at the moment the case in the event that they’re in the identical division, then no different steps will probably be mandatory. If greater than two groups are concerned, then the group with the very best mixed profitable proportion in opposition to the opposite groups within the tie wins the tiebreaker, and, if it is nonetheless related, the remaining two groups are un-tied through head-to-head information and on down the road.
  2. Intradivision information. This one is related solely for two conditions: multi-team eventualities the place the groups all have the identical head-to-head information inside the group, or for two Wild Card groups in several divisions; within the latter case, there’s nonetheless a superb likelihood they performed seven video games in opposition to one another as an alternative of six.
  3. Interdivision information, that means information in opposition to the opposite two divisions in the identical league. If there is a tie between an AL East group and an AL West group, each of whom had the identical intradivision information, this may pit the AL East group’s document in opposition to AL Central and AL West groups versus the AL West group’s document in opposition to AL Central and AL East groups.
  4. Second-half of intraleague video games. If a group has 20 interleague video games, then this may be determined primarily based on their profitable proportion over the past 71 (half of 142) video games in opposition to groups in their very own league. And if that does not work…
  5. Second-half of intraleague video games plus one… or extra, as wanted.. Under the above situation, then this may be determined primarily based on their profitable proportion over the past 72 intraleague video games, then 73, 74, 75… as many because it takes.

While the Dodgers have clinched the NL West and the Astros the AL West, three of the opposite divisions have margins of at the very least seven video games at this writing, with their leaders having at the very least a 99.5% likelihood of holding on in keeping with our Playoff Odds. The exception is the NL East, the place the Mets lead the Braves by a sport and a half, and the place a first-round bye because the no. 2 seed is moreover at stake. Settling this one will probably be utterly easy, because the Mets lead the season collection 9-7 with three video games in Atlanta left to play from September 30 to October 2; the Braves want a sweep in the event that they’re to assert the tiebreaker. Beyond that, here is the remainder of the NL image:

NL Wild Card Contenders

ATL* 93-57 3-4 (0.0) 9-7 (0.3) 3-3-(0.0) 40-24 40-26
SDP 83-67 4-3 (0.0) 3-4 (0.0) 4-3 (0.0) 36-31 40-26
PHI 82-67 7-9 (3.0) 4-3 (0.0) 4-2 (0.0) 37-32 37-26
THOUSAND 80-70 3-3-(0.0) 3-4 (0.0) 2-4 (0.0) 39-32 26-33

SOURCE: Baseball-Reference

* = clinched playoff spot. Yellow = clinched season collection win. Numbers in parentheses discuss with remaining video games at house and on the street in opposition to a given opponent.

The Braves and Mets have each already clinched playoff spots, and so they’re far sufficient forward of the opposite three groups that there is nearly no likelihood of both of them winding up in a tie; the loser of that race would be the fourth seed. All of the remaining two-team tiebreakers, whether or not to find out the fifth and sixth seeds or the sixth seed and the hard-luck group, are clear-cut, as their respective season collection have concluded. The Phillies have the higher hand on each the Padres and the Brewers, whereas the Brewers have the quick finish of the stick on each, and the Padres have the benefit on the Brewers however not the Phillies.

If the Padres, Phillies, and Brewers all wind up tied, the Phillies would get the fifth seed primarily based on their 8-5 document in opposition to the opposite two, in comparison with the Padres’ 7-7 and the Brewers’ 5-8. The Padres would then declare the sixth seed primarily based on their 4-3 season collection benefit over the Brewers, and Milwaukee can be left questioning if it ought to have simply held onto Josh Hader.

Over to the AL:

AL Wild Card Contenders

Team WL TOR TBR SEA BAL Intra Inter
TOR 84-66 7-9 (0.3) 2-5 (0.0) 8-8 (0.3) 35-29 36-30
TBR 83-67 9-7 (3-0) 5-2 (0.0) 10-9 (0.0) 39-31 32-28
SEA 82-67 5-2 (0.0) 2-5 (0.0) 4-2 (0.0) 37-33 33-26
BAL 78-71 8-8 (3.0) 9-10 (0.0) 2-4 (0.0) 30-36 36-27

SOURCE: Baseball-Reference

Yellow = clinched season collection win. Numbers in parentheses discuss with remaining video games at house and on the street in opposition to a given opponent.

With all however one of many collection amongst these groups involving an odd variety of video games, and with the one one which’s a good quantity not a cut up (Mariners over Orioles, 4-2), any two-team ties within the AL race will probably be settled by head-to-head information. As you may see, the Rays are significantly effectively arrange on this regard, having clinched collection victories over the Mariners and Orioles, and proudly owning a two-game benefit over the Blue Jays with three extra to play in opposition to them at Tropicana Field after Thursday evening’s win.

If the Blue Jays, Rays, and Mariners have been to all wind up tied, with the Orioles out of the image, then primarily based on their present information — that is how I’m doing all of those eventualities, whereas noting that there are video games remaining — the Rays would win the highest seed on the premise of their 14-9 document in opposition to the opposite two groups, in comparison with Seattle’s 7-7 document and Toronto’s 9-14 document. Once the Rays are untied from the knot, the Mariners’ 5-2 benefit over the Blue Jays would slot the 2 groups into the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively. If the Blue Jays had gained on Thursday evening after which continued to comb this weekend’s collection, then all three groups would have .500 information inside the group and the eye would flip to their intradivision information, through which case proper now it is the Rays with the very best document That door has been shut in our faces, nonetheless, and so we transfer on.

If the Orioles someway surpass the Rays and wind up with the identical document as each Toronto and Seattle, the Mariners would get the highest seed on the premise of their 9-4 document in opposition to the opposite two groups. The fifth seed would cling within the stability pending the result of the three-game collection between the Blue Jays and Orioles in Baltimore from October 3-5.

If the Orioles surpass the Mariners (sorry, Seattle followers) and tie with the Blue Jays and Rays, it is Tampa Bay that will get the highest seed primarily based on their present 19-16 document in opposition to the opposite two groups; the Orioles are 17-18 and the Blue Jays 15-18, however what issues there may be solely who wins these two groups’ season collection, as famous above. If it is the Blue Jays who fall out of it (sorry, Canada) and the opposite three groups tie, Tampa Bay has the higher hand in that three-way tiebreaker by dint of their 15-11 document in opposition to the opposite two, the place Seattle is 6-7 and Baltimore 11-14.

In the closest factor we’re more likely to get by way of logjams, if all 4 groups wind up tied, the Rays would get the nod as the highest seed primarily based on their 24-18 document in opposition to the opposite three groups. Both the Orioles (19-22) and Blue Jays (17-22) are beneath .500 inside the group and don’t have any likelihood to surpass the Rays, however the Mariners are 11-9 (.550) and will transfer previous the Rays if Tampa Bay loses all three remaining video games to Toronto to drop their profitable proportion inside the group to .533. Once that winner claims the no. 4 seed and is faraway from the group, we return to the three-team tiebreakers. If it is Baltimore, Seattle, and Toronto remaining, the Mariners are the no. 5 seed on the premise of the aforementioned 9-4 document in opposition to the opposite two, after which it comes right down to whoever wins the Baltimore/Toronto season collection for the no. 6 seeds If it is Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Toronto remaining, it is the Rays getting the no. 5 seed primarily based on that 19-16 document, and once more the result of that Baltimore/Toronto season collection figuring out who performs on and who goes house.

Barring one thing that is received lower than a 1% likelihood of occurring — the White Sox attending to 88 or 89 wins whereas a few of the different AL contenders get slowed down within the September mire — that is about it. The remaining common season drama will heart on the three pending collection (Blue Jays-Rays, Blue Jays-Orioles, and Mets-Braves), and no matter bonus baseball out of it will likely be restricted to extra-inning contests with the rattling Manfred Man beginning on second base. I do not prefer it, and you do not have to, both, nevertheless it’s what we’re left with.

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