Jays’ playoff odds skyrocket after big week
By Eric Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
It was Monday July 27th; the Jays were an under performing .500 level team with a competitive 50-50 record four days ahead of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline. Everyone around Blue Jays nation knew something had to happen. Most thought it would come in the form of a starting pitcher to alleviate the Jays’ most plaguing concern of the 2015 season.
Instead, in the dark of night, general manger Alex Anthopoulos delivered the a first-pitch curve ball landing top-of-the-class shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for veteran Jose Reyes and prospects Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco.
What was once a 34.6% chance to make the post-season Sunday increased to 35.9% without even playing a game, according to Fangraphs.
To most, the move was confusing. It was common knowledge by then that the Jays had the league’s best offence, scoring 550 runs, 52 more than the second best New York Yankees. So why continue adding to what was already a strength? Anthopoulos had to have more up his sleeve.
Thursday, he manifested exactly what that was. In Anthopoulosian fashion, Alex extracted David Price from the Detroit Tigers, giving away top prospects Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt.
In unison with the trade, while splitting the two-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies and opening the four-game series against the Kansas City Royals with a victory, the Jays had now increased their odds of making the playoffs to a 48.9%, a 14% increase in less than five days.
Sitting at 53-51 a day after the trade deadline came and went, all the while acquiring left fielder Ben Revere and reliever Mark Lowe, the Jays have again increased their chances at October baseball to 54.8%. Further, they now stand a respectable 5.1% chance of winning the often chased and rarely achieved World Series title, a feat they had only a 2.8% chance at last Sunday.
According to Fangraphs’ ZiPS projection system, Price will add another 1.7 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) over the remainder of the season. Between Revere and Lowe, another 0.7 WAR can be tacked on. That’s about 2 1/2 wins when it’s all said and done. Add in yet another addition in Tulowitzki and you’re looking at almost three theoretical wins added over the course of a week by projection systems. It’s why they’re projected to win 84.4 games by season’s end instead of the 80 wins projected last Sunday afternoon.
With that said, the caveat to projection systems is that they can never replace the real game. While they present an informative forecast for what may occur down the stretch, players both under-and-over achieve. It happens every year and will continue to do so based on the inherit unpredictably in the game of baseball.
The Jays have undoubtedly overhauled not only their current team but also their entire organization. Over the week, the Jays traded away 11 pitchers in their farm system, six of which were left-handed. But the haul, even beyond this year with Tulowitzki and Revere under team control, is something Jays’ fans should get excited about.
If nothing more, for the first time in a long time, the Jays are looking at a stretch of edge-of-your-seat exciting baseball.
Maybe, just maybe, 2015 will be the year they break the 21-year playoff drought and deliver October baseball.
There’s even an elevated chance they could be a lot more than participants in this year’s October classic.