I have steadily had a Cleveland versus San Francisco World Series prediction going since a week or so before the All Star break. I am not here to change that, however there seems to be some uncertainty around the MLB world as to who will make it to the postseason in a few races. The AL East seems to have a new leader weekly and the Giants have some company in the NL West thanks to the Dodgers playing well of late. I think there are a few things to consider when predicting what will happen and that is to look at who’s playing well at the moment as well as some key stats from years past. As we go division by division we are going to dissect those key stats and look at important data right now to give an educated projection of the what will happen. The key things we are going to look at are: offense and pitching since the All Star break and run differential. There have been only 2 instances since 2010 where a +100 run differential did not make the postseason. In 2011 the Boston Red Sox missed the postseason despite posting a +138 run differential and in 2012 the Tampa Bay Rays missed the postseason despite posting a +120 run differential. That is the list the last 5 years, if you get to over +100 run differential you are in. The worst playoff run differential clubs since 2010 are: 2015 Rangers (+18), 2014 Royals (+27), 2012 Orioles (+7). Every other playoff team had a run differential higher than +50. In 2010 EVERY playoff team had a run differential above +100. I think this shows that this stat matters.
Right now the Blue Jays have the 0.5 game lead over the Red Sox and 2.5 game lead over the Orioles. Since the All Star break in AL team ERA the Red Sox are 3rd, the Blue Jays 4th, and the Orioles are 13th. In AL runs scored the Red Sox are 1st, the Blue Jays are 6th, and the Orioles are 13th. Now we look at Run Differential. The Red Sox have a +121, Blue Jays have a +96, and the Orioles have a +20. Note: the Advantage-Boston Red Sox
Right now the Indians have a 7 game in the division. Since the All Star break the Indians are 11th in the AL in ERA-Detroit (2nd), Kansas City (6th), and Chicago (10th). As for offense Cleveland is 2nd in the AL in runs scored since the All Star break and along with the Red Sox are the only other AL club with a run differential higher than +100. The Indians boast a +104. Advantage-Cleveland Indians
Right now the Rangers have a 6 game lead. That is about where the feel good stops, they are 8th in the AL in ERA and 11th in runs, to add to that they only have a +5 run differential FOR THE YEAR. Still advantage-Texas Rangers but they need to get it together.
Right now the Nationals have a 9.5 game lead in the division. They possess the 4th best post All Star ERA and are tied for 2nd in runs scored. The Nationals have the 2nd best run differential in all of baseball at +146 and the only other team in the division that is positive is the Marlins at +13. Advantage-Washington Nationals
Even though it is an exercise in futility to come up with enough good things to say about this season’s edition of the Chicago Cubs we are going to point out what they have been doing. The Cubs have a 13 game division lead, have the #1 team ERA BY ALMOST A FULL RUN. The Cubs have the 4th best runs scored total in the NL post All Star break and have the best run differential in the sport at +215! Advantage-Chicago Cubs
Right now the Giants have a 0.5 game lead over the Dodgers. In team ERA post All Star break the Giants are 8th and the Dodgers are 12th, in runs scored post All Star break the Dodgers are 5th and the Giants are 13th. In run differential this season the Dodgers are +55 and the Giants are +51. While I think that both of these two will make it, I feel that if the Dodgers ever get Kershaw back then they will be the favorites to win a down to the wire division. Advantage-Los Angeles Dodgers
These stats only measure which teams are going to likely make it to the postseason, as we have seen the last 5 Octobers anything is possible. In 2010 all the teams were very good and the Giants came out on top. In 2011 the Cardinals has the second to worst run differential of any playoff team and won it all. In 2012 the Giants and Tigers met in the World Series despite having the worst and second to worst run differentials in their respective leagues. In 2013 we got the Red Sox and Cardinals who had the best run differentials in all of baseball. In 2014 the Giants beat the Royals despite the Giants having the second worst run differential in the NL and the Royals having the worst AL. And last season the Royals and Mets met, with the Royals coming out on top, despite them both being mediocre in the run differential stat. This season I am going to stick with my Giants-Indians pick because the MLB postseason is a literal crapshoot but getting there takes being a really good team over the course of 162 games.