Cleveland Indians’ Playoff Odds Fall Below 1 in 15

The Cleveland Indians are in the midst of a real rough patch.

Sure, the Indians upgraded with Kosuke Fukudome and Ubaldo Jimenez, but that hasn’t solved their problems. They’ve dropped three of their last four games, six of their last eight, and 10 of their last 13, and they haven’t won a series in more than four weeks.

After last night’s 4-3 loss at Fenway Park, the Indians fell to 54-54. This is the first time Cleveland’s record has not been above .500 since April 6, and the Tribe’s current four-game deficit behind the Detroit Tigers is the furthest back the team has been all season.

As a result, the Indians’ playoff hopes are—according to one projection—quickly slipping away.

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 their projected winning percentages for each team.

Based on the Tribe’s current record and a .491 true-talent winning percentage going forward (the equivalent of a 80-win team over a full season), there is now only a 6.4% chance—just over 1 in 16—that the Indians will play into October.

In a year when Cleveland’s postseason odds had once neared 40%—even more impressively, that was back when BP’s projection system thought the Indians were only a 74-win true-talent team—the Tribe’s chances of making the playoffs are lowest they’ve been since we began monitoring the projections in mid-April.

The Tigers are now heavily favored to win the division, with roughly a 4 in 5 chance (79.7%) of taking the AL Central. The Chicago White Sox (11.0%) are also ahead of the Indians in the projections. The Minnesota Twins have about a 1 in 34 chance (2.9%) of winning the division, while the Kansas City Royals’ odds are at zero. No AL Central team has a significant chance of taking the AL Wild Card.

It’s certainly not too late for a comeback, and if the Indians are only an 80-win true-talent team I don’t buy the projection that the Tigers are an 88-win true-talent club. But something’s got to give if Cleveland is going to make a serious run at the postseason.

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