With the All-Star break upon us, it's a convenient time to re-evaluate the playoff races relative to our preseason PECOTA projections. Unlike last season, when three teams the system had tabbed as potentially playoff-bound more or less flatlined by the break, none of PECOTA's initial picks is totally out of the running this season. That said, injuries to several Phillies and Red Sox have turned both teams from favorites into underdogs with regard to reaching October, and no fewer than 11 teams have seen their chances of making the playoffs fall below 2 percent.
That's the conclusion when we compare the plain vanilla version of our Playoff Odds report against our preseason projections. In that report, all teams' current record and third-orderPythagorean record -- their record after adjusting for scoring environment, run elements and quality of opposition -- are factored into a Monte Carlo simulation of the rest of the season, with their records regressing not to .500 but to their third-order winning percentages. Run differentials are the key here: From a predictive standpoint, the sun tends to shine on teams that outscore their opponents by the widest margin.
Dividing the teams into three batches -- biggest losers, biggest winners and most steady -- here are the losers: