01 May 2018

Fail to Win 10 April Games and Not All Hope is Lost

Winning fewer than 10 games in April is a feat.  The Orioles have done it this year.  Over the past fifteen years, it is an accomplishment that only 12% of clubs have made.  No, it is not an accomplishment to wear with pride, but it is a remarkable one nonetheless.  It is remarkable because it tends to illustrate the club's future performance and the likelihood that the playoffs are to dream about in another season in the future.  However, teams have climbed out of this hole before.

In 2015, the Texas Rangers arrived in May with the second fewest wins in all of baseball.  At 7-15, the Rangers were bested(?) by only the Brewers who were scuttling at 5-18.  However, the Rangers' future grew brighter as they finished the year on a 81-59 roll.  That gave them 88 wins on the year, which was enough to lead a floundering AL West and would have netted them the first Wild Card slot, if they had needed that.  It should be noted that they really were not that good of a team.  Their offense was average.  Their pitching was average.  They just kept winning and other clubs did not.  Sometimes it happens that way.

Over the last 15 years, that Rangers team was actually the least impressive to run out the season well enough to earn a place in the post-season.  In 2009, a troublesome 9-13 Angels squad went 88-52 the rest of the way, obliterating everyone in their path.  Also in 2009, an 8-13 Rockies team went on to go 84-57 with that 92 final win total getting them into the Wild Card game.  Lastly, the 9-16 2006 Twins went a stunning 87-50 to secure their division with 96 total wins.  So, this has happened before.  A terrible team has become a pretty good one.  Although it should be noted that the Rockies were the only ones projection models saw as a middling team (79-83).

So, yes, 55 times has a club won fewer than 10 games on the May 1st standings.  Of those 55 clubs, four managed to get into the playoffs.  In other words, if a team finds themselves in this predicament then they may take solace that, historically, 7% of these clubs come back to prominence.  Those are not great numbers those.

What is typical?
W(t) L(t)
Average 71 91
StDev 10
10th perc 60 102
90th perc 86 76
What these numbers suggest is that we are more likely to see a team that will lose 100 games than one that will sneak out with a wild card slot.  Historically, the team has about a 1 in 20 chance to win the division.

Of course, all of these rates are historical ones.  To apply these rates to the Orioles requires an assumption that the Orioles are characterized by this group of seasons and teams as well as by the other clubs in their division.  With 2018 powerhouses, Red Sox and Yankees, in the division, it makes the Orioles road look a bit harder to find post-season entrance.

So, it is not impossible for the Orioles to turn this around, but it certainly is not something to expect.  My advice would be to watch each game and enjoy seeing players like Manny Machado don the Baltimore orange and black because they may not be come August 1st.

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