The Cleveland Indians keep winning. Their AL Central rivals keep losing. The season keeps rolling. And with each passing day, the Tribe’s chances of extending their 2011 season into October keep growing.
The Indians now stand at 13-5, two games ahead of the second-place Kansas City Royals. Looking at the standings, the closest division rival who was given a chance at contention before the season is Detroit, who sits 4.5 games back at 9-10. At 7-11 (6 GB), the Chicago White Sox are even worse than the Tigers, while last year’s division-winning Minnesota Twins are in the cellar at 6-12.
All this is happening in April, which means we still have more than five months to go. But these early games have already made a big impact on the race for October.
Every day, BaseballProspectus.com calculates each team’s chances of making the playoffs by running a Monte Carlo simulation for the rest of the season, playing through all the remaining games a million times based on teams’ projected winning percentages.
Based on the Indians’ current record and their projected .464 winning percentage going forward—somewhat pessimistic given their torrid play to date —the Tribe has a 24.8% chance of making the playoffs, or just under 1 in 4 odds. Cleveland has a 22.9% chance of winning the AL Central, with an additional 1.8% chance of making the postseason as the AL Wild Card.
The only two AL Central teams with better odds of playing into October are the Tigers (36.8%) and White Sox (29.2%), and the Indians are on the verge of surpassing the latter, at least. Cleveland is behind by just 4.4%. Compare that to the 6.5% worth of ground the Tribe gained on the White Sox since yesterday or the 37.7% by which Chicago’s lead has diminished in the last week, and it might not be long before the Indians’ odds surpass the Sox’.