In case you haven’t heard, here are the wild card standings in the American League:
Team, record, Games back
Rangers, 81-64, +2.5
Rays, 78-66, -
Yankees, 78-68, 1
Orioles, 77-68, 1.5
Indians, 77-68, 1.5
Royals, 77-69, 2
For reals. The Royals are two games out of a playoff spot on Sept. 12, with 16 games to go. Go ahead. It’s OK to react like this:
This is still a longshot, of course. I don’t know how these things are calculated, exactly, but Baseball Prospectus gives the Royals a 6.1 percent chance and ESPN a 14.8 percent chance.
But enough with those websites’ fancy-shmancy calculations. With the Royals off today in front of a weekend series in Detroit — Chen vs. Verlander on Friday, Santana vs. Fister on Saturday and Guthrie vs. Scherzer on Sunday — let’s run through a few scenarios to get a better idea of what it will take for the Royals’ 2013 peak to be something other than "TWO GAMES OUT OF THE SECOND WILD CARD ON SEPT. 12!"
Included are each scenario’s likelihood as calculated by DKTM’s very complex and proprietary formula, right down to the thousandth decimal because you can’t be too accurate with these things.
If the teams ahead win at their season-long pace
, Tampa would finish 88-74. That would mean the Royals would need to finish 11-5 to set up a one-game playoff, which would just be ridiculously fun. The Royals have gone 11-5 or better in what basically amounts to three different stretches: one in April, one in June, and one that started in July and went to August. Of course, as it stands, the Royals are on a pretty good run — four of five, and eight of 12 — but let’s just keep the math simple and forward-looking.
DKTM likelihood: 15.623 percent.
If one team ahead has a good kick
and wins, say, 90 games then the math becomes more difficult. This isn’t hard to imagine, either. Tampa has been scuffling, but would get to 90 wins by finishing 12-6. The Yankees would get there by finishing 12-4. That means the Royals would need to finish 13-3 for the one-game playoff. The bad news: they’ve only done that once this year. The good news: they actually went 14-2.
DKTM likelihood: 6.472 percent.
If the baseball gods — for the first time since April 2003 — smiled on Kansas City
, and the teams ahead of them start choking let’s say they top out at 86 wins. That means Tampa could go no better than 8-10, the Yankees 8-8, and the Orioles and Indians 9-8. Then the Royals could get into a one-game playoff by finishing 9-7.
DKTM likelihood: 3.725 percent.
Which means a lot of people around Kansas City are doing this: