The Trade Deadline Doesn’t Really Change Playoff Odds

On Wednesday, I took a look at the NL playoff odds, to get a snapshot of how the National League contenders looked before the trade deadline. Today we’ll take a look at how each team has improved since then. One note I’ll add before we look at the changes is that these also reflect what has happened over the last two days. For example, the Pirates lost two games, with one of them coming against the Giants, who are big contenders for the NL Wild Card.

The playoff odds and projections come from the top three projection sites: Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs and Clay Davenport. Here are the latest average projections.

Team Updated Odds W L Odds W L Change

1

Dodgers

97.2

92

70

94.9

91

71

2.2

2

Nationals

88.0

89

73

88.6

90

72

-0.5

3

Cardinals

64.7

86

76

64.7

87

75

0.0

4

Brewers

63.0

86

76

56.1

86

76

6.9

5

Giants

60.6

86

76

54.4

85

77

6.2

6

Pirates

50.9

85

77

59.3

86

76

-8.3

7

Braves

49.4

84

78

56.7

85

77

-7.3

The Pirates dropped a lot in percentage points, but only dropped one win on average in the projections. The Cardinals, despite making two trades for starting pitching since the last article, saw no change to their projections, and saw their projected wins drop by one. That’s after they went 1-1 and jumped ahead of the Pirates in the standings. The Wild Card race is still very close, with all of the contenders in the 84-86 win range, but there weren’t any major shifts in the projected W/L records.

As I mentioned above, I think most of the changes are a result of wins and losses over the last two days, especially a big loss against San Francisco. Baseball Prospectus actually did a study looking at the change in World Series odds, based on the trades which were made. This is only one of the three projection systems, and it doesn’t focus on overall playoffs, but it gives a better look at how the odds can change.

The result was that there was very little change. The Pirates, despite making no moves and seeing their division rivals make trades, saw no change. The Cardinals added two pitchers, and also didn’t see their odds change, just like above. The Rays traded David Price away, adding Drew Smyly, and didn’t see a change. The biggest upgrade was Oakland, who added Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, and Sam Fuld, but lost Yoenis Cespedes. Their odds only went up 1.1 percentage points. The Tigers were the other big gainer, only going up half a percentage point after adding David Price.

What the BP odds show is that adding a big name at the deadline really doesn’t give a team a big boost to win a World Series. That makes sense, because the reason the team was a contender to begin with was because they had a lot of guys who put them in that position. If you need one guy to give you a great shot at winning a World Series, then you’re probably not a World Series contender to begin with.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • jaygray007

    The reason why the Tigers went up so little was that they gave up major league pieces and don’t have a great replacement for Jackson. I love what the A’s did cuz they can easily replace Yoenis.

    I’m sure that a prospects-for-ace deal would provide a much greater playoff boost. But Jackson and Smyly are pretty good major leaguers.

    They pirates don’t have a great replacement for… say… marte. BTW marte for price would have been pretty awful anyway.

  • stickyweb

    Tim, this simply cannot be true. Everything I’ve read by hundreds of commenters on blogs is that the Bucs threw the towel in on this season and STL clinched another WS appearance. The morons at BP obviously have a flawed methodology and need to re-run the numbers until they come out with the Bucs at < 1% and STL at 98%. The Cards made moves for crissake!!!! It doesn't matter what they got or gave up, they tried.

    • risefromtheashes89

      Hope you are saying all of the above with tongue firmly in cheek. Your last sentence is what every person crying on sports talk is saying. The Cards could do what the did because they took time to build the minor league depth and keep it going and deal from the ML level and bring up the depth. They never gut their talent to add. We are almost there but still need our ML talent to get older and then when it is time to deal an older guy you can easily as they do in St Louis.

  • PirateBall123

    “The Pirates owe it to us as fans to make stupid moves at the deadline and put the best winner possible on the field right now”

    – 20 different guys swilling Ahrn City dahn the Strip District right now

    I post that because nearly argument I’ve read in favor of a massive trade stems from the fact that ownership needs to “prove” they’re serious. Because apparently draft and international spending doesn’t count as much as 10-year deals to 33 year-olds when it comes to a small market team competing.

    • jaygray007

      It only makes sense to criticize them if there was evidence that they were hoarding prospects obnoxiously, which is the opposite of what the evidence points to.

      Trading players on the major league roster for price or lester just would make no sense because they don’t have redundant players who are also valuable.

      But many fans aren’t thinking that way. Sigh.

  • risefromtheashes89

    Gots to love the yinzers that host and call into the radio sports talk shows. They see no problem giving up Marte for a 2 month rental in Lester. Could just hear it now that when Lester would sign elsewhere over the winter for mega bucks ( he would not be worth mega bucks in my mind) and we would be without him and Marte would be starring in Boston. They would have been busting NH for that deal big time. They still think some how that Burnett getting the qualifier last winter would have given us either a great pitcher or an extra draft pick. Our starter for tonight was signed instead and has equal or better stats that AJ at 1/3 the cost and no way would the Phils have signed AJ then and given up their #1 draft choice from the last draft to us. Nothing would have changed. AJ prob would have retired and we still would have Mr. Volquez. Can’t wait to hear the silly hosts and callers on my way home.

    • jaygray007

      Marte is just in a whole different level from yoenis when it comes to trade value. Boston would’ve had to send some serious prospects with lester to make it close to fair

      • risefromtheashes89

        Exactly but to hear the talkers (hosts and guests) they should have done the same deal and just plug Marte and deal done. Boston would have done that deal laughing all the way. If they were talking Marte for Lester and extras, Boston must not wanted to give much up to go with a rental that they could resign anyway. That is the part that the typical fan never gets and the hosts use that lack of knowledge to fan the flames to get callers and ratings.

        • jaygray007

          Extremely frustrating

  • risefromtheashes89

    Tim, are you still going to post what your estimation of equal trade value that the Bucs would have had to pony up to equal the deals that were made? Have been waiting to see your thoughts.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/ Tim Williams

      I posted them for all of the moves except Price. I have no clue on that one, since the Rays specifically wanted MLB guys.

  • S Brooks

    Here in LA the mouth breathers are also complaining that the Dodgers didn’t give up their top 3 for Price or Lester. They’re everywhere, not just in the Burgh.

  • Monsoon Harvard

    As long as jobronies like Brent Morel, Michael Martinez and Ernesto Frieri remain on this team, and continue to play often, I have very little confidence in their ability to make it to the post season this year. If they should somehow get there, I don’t see them going very far.

  • pilbobuggins

    I’m sure these odds mean something to someone otherwise they would not be posted. I tend to agree with han solo,”never tell me the odds” since I am not a betting man and am a do it yourself kinda guy,this has served me well during the course of my life. My way may or may not work for everybody,all I know is that it works for me. Otherwise it was a good article as usual tim.