As baseball fans patiently await the return of MLB, statisticians are taking a look at the probabilities of what teams will benefit most from a shortened season. For bettors, it is crucial to know about the possibilities that teams could achieve in an 80-100 game season.
Although Opening Day has been pushed back to no earlier than May 15th, the possibility that Major League Baseball will play a 162-game schedule is fleeting to say the least.
For bettors, evaluating teams for extreme variability could be the difference in winning a shortened win totals bet. For the uninitiated, variability in sports is the understanding that a team has a wide range of expected outcomes over the course of a season.
Perhaps an important player, like Mike Trout gets hurt early in the season, then the expected win total for the Los Angeles Angels would drop by a handful of games. In a 162-game schedule, the variability baked into a season win total would level out due to the length of the season, but in a short season, the unexpected could take a team to the playoffs.
In a recent Fangraphs simulation, the Rangers had the biggest difference in playoff probability between an 81-game season and a 162-game campaign. The reason the Rangers ranked number one is because they have a lineup full of high variance hitters that could shave their imperfections in a shortened season.
Another reason is that Texas has a top-ten starting rotation in terms of expected WAR, or Wins Above Replacement, the metric teams use to gauge how good a player is over a replacement player.
Trout’s team, the Angels, benefit greatly from an 81-game season mainly because their poor starting rotation wouldn’t be as exposed as they would over 162 contests. Los Angeles is going to score plenty of runs with their star-studded lineup regardless of the length of the season, leaving their pitching as the only hole to worry about for 2020.
The White Sox made several offseason moves that pushed writers to declare that their core of talented young players and crafty veterans to be a dark horse for the AL Wild Card race. Fangraphs agreed and actually put the team’s chances at 35% percent in an 81-game season over 18.7% in a 162-game season.
After a disappointing 2019 season, the power-packed Phillies are poised to make a run in 2020. The Bryce Harper-led club greatly benefits from the short-season schedule as Fangraphs gives them a 30.7% shot at making the playoff in an 81-game campaign.
If the Phillies could add some solid starting pitching, then odds would grow even further, but with their terrific lineup, Philadelphia could be dangerous in a tough NL East with a condensed schedule.
Similar to the Phillies, the Diamondbacks get 3-1 odds to make the playoffs if the season is truncated. After cleaning house of important veterans such as Zack Greinke, Arizona retooled and crafted a roster that has a host of young pitching and fantastic hitting.
Although the Diamondbacks live in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ shadow, a short 81-game season could reduce their variance and focus the club to grab one of the two Wild Card spots.
The Washington Nationals won the World Series over the Houston Astros in seven games in 2019. For the first time, a home team did not win a game in the championship series.
There are 15 teams in the American League and 15 teams in the National League for a total of 30 MLB teams that are playing the 2020 season.
The 1994 and 1995 season were shortened due to a players’ strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series.
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