Bad SI article by Jay Jaffe about the overachieving Orioles, who won another crazy game tonight on a bases-loaded Adam Jones single in the bottom of the 14th. Jaffe is right, of course, that the Orioles are unlikely to stay competitive with Oakland, Detroit, LA, and Chicago for a wild-card spot. But the reasoning is bad, e.g.:
So how seriously should we take the Orioles? The Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds, which are driven by remaining schedule and run differentials, adjusted for the quality of opposition, gives Baltimore just a 5.7 percent chance at making the playoffs. Even the Red Sox, who at 54-55 are 3 1/2 games below them in the standings, have a 10.2 percent shot. Those odds aren’t simply theoretical, as history suggests the deck is strongly stacked against them. Few teams wind up exceeding their Pythagorean records by nine wins, and even fewer teams with negative run differentials reach the playoffs.
Few teams exceed their Pythagorean records by nine wins — but among teams which are already nine wins ahead of their Pythagorean record, it should be about half. (And the Orioles are actually 10 over after tonight’s 1-run win.) Similarly, few teams with negative run differentials make the playoffs; but few teams with negative run differentials win 85 games, which the Orioles easily could. (I’m standing by my original prediction of 83.)
The Orioles are unlikely to win the wildcard, but they’re likely to finish with a winning record, and they’re likely to finish with more runs allowed than scored. They’ve registered a lot of lucky wins, but so what? Lucky wins count.