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Teams with worse odds than the Giants have made it to the postseason

Other playoff teams have faced worse odds of making the postseason. What did they do that the Giants could replicate?

Commissioner’s Trophy Ceremony Photo by Jeff Chiu-Pool/Getty Images

As of July 23, the Giants stand at a 11.8% chance of making the playoffs, according to Baseball Prospectus. Those aren’t terrible odds. The Nationals, the hands down favorite to win the NL East before the season began, are just ahead of them at 23%. A lot can change over the course of half a season.

The Giants’, however, have performed about as expected. Most projections systems expected them to be a .500 team, and after 101 games, they are 51-50. No surprises here. The Giants haven’t really had an extended slump or hot stretch. They’ve been consistently consistent. If the Giants are to make it to the playoffs, they’ll need to get hot, especially since they’ll need to go through nearly half the league just to make it to a second wild card spot.

But there isn’t no chance of that happening.

In recent years, other teams have had worse playoff odds than where the Giants currently sit and still made it to October. Baseball Prospectus has playoff odds going back to 2013. Here are the playoff teams with the lowest odds at roughly the same point in the season and how their season ended.

Playoff Teams with Low Odds

Year Team Probability at July 23 Lowest Point After End Result
Year Team Probability at July 23 Lowest Point After End Result
2017 Twins 17.1 4.5 at August 3 Eliminated in WC
2016 Mets 41.2 7.6 at August 19 Eliminated in WC
2015 Rangers 5.4 4.8 at July 28 Eliminated in ALDS
2014 Royals 12.7 12.2 at July 29 Eliminated in WS
2013 Cleveland 18.8 9.6 at August 30 Eliminated in WC

Each of these teams faced worse odds later in the season than where the Giants currently sit. Granted, most of these teams didn’t make past the Wild Card which hardly counts as making the playoffs.

Now these are only the teams that made the playoffs. Are there teams that were at 11.8% odds around the All-Star Break and just stayed there? Certainly. Most teams do that. Roughly 88.2% of them do. So what did these teams do to defy the odds?

2017 Minnesota Twins

Last year’s Twins had about thirty glorious minutes of having a lead in the postseason before they were promptly bounced from the Wild Card game from the Yankees. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Twins lost to the Yankees because (A) the Twins always lose to the Yankees and (B) they weren’t very good.

The Twins made the Wild Card sort of by default. They won 85 games and their Pythagorean record said they should have won 83. No other team in the American League finished over .500, and the Twins benefited from playing in the same division as the White Sox and the Tigers. They were also fortunate that the Royals collapsed as soon as the Twins started piecing things together.

The Giants aren’t going to make the Wild Card by simply being above .500. There are currently 10 teams in the NL above .500, and the Nationals aren’t one of them.

2016 Mets

The 2016 Mets barely beat out the Cardinals and Giants not only for a Wild Card spot but home field advantage in the Wild Card game with Noah Syndergaard on the mound. How did that work out for them?

Oh, hell yeah.

Nearing the end of August, the Mets were done. As late as August 19, they had just a 7.6% chance of making the playoffs. They were 61-62 and looking up at the Marlins, Pirates, Cardinals, and Dodgers for the Wild Card. Then they went on a tear. For the remainder of the season, they had the best record in the majors, going 27-13. The Marlins and Pirates fell off a cliff, and in case you’ve forgotten, the 2016 Giants weren’t good in the second half, either.

This is about what the Giants would need to have happen. They have a month more than the Mets did, so they wouldn’t need to be the best team in the league, but they would still need the Braves, Rockies, and Diamondbacks to go cold.

2015 Rangers

The Rangers were at a 5% probability of making the playoffs at the end of July, and they wound up winning their division. They only needed 88 games to do it, so they benefitted from lack of competition, but they also played out of their minds down the stretch. On August 1, they were seven games back of the Astros and five behind the Angels. The Rangers added Cole Hamels at the trade deadline to bolster their rotation, and for the rest of the season, they went 38-22 while the Astros and Angels were .500 or worse.

It also helped that they outperformed their Pythagorean record by five games and went 13-6 against the second-place Astros.

While their season came to an end against another team who rode a hot streak into the playoffs, they gave us one of the greatest playoff games (not involving the Giants) in recent memory.

lol Sam Dyson.

If the Giants want to replicate the 2015 Rangers, they would just need to trade for a great starting pitcher under contract and get hot and lucky. Too bad the Mets are hogging Jacob DeGrom.

2014 Royals

Every other team got eliminated in the first round, but the Kansas City Royals had less than a 10% chance of making the playoffs midway through July and they made it all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. How did that game work out for them?

Oh, hell yeah.

At the end of July, the Royals were just three games over .500 and 3.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot. The competition for the Wild Card that year was actually pretty fierce. Each division had three teams that finished with at least 83 wins. The Royals didn’t add any meaningful pieces at the trade deadline, but they suddenly got hot in August. They also finished five games over their Pythagorean record.

2013 Cleveland Baseball Team

2013 was a year without an underdog. Cleveland made it to the postseason by actually being good, something I think the Giants are going to have a hard time replicating. Cleveland finished with 92 wins, and they outscored their opponents by 83 runs. The Giants have been outscored by 24 runs.

If the Giants want to make it to the postseason, they don’t have to buy at the deadline. Only one of these teams added a high-impact player at the trade deadline, and that player was extended through the next three seasons with an option for a fourth. They will, however, have to outperform their Pythagorean record by about five games, and hope some other teams get unlucky. It’s happened four years in a row, so it could happen for the Giants.*

*It won’t happen to the Giants because they can’t score runs.