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1-9 Teams Don't Make The Playoffs

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Somewhere between 1 and 9 reasons 1-9 teams don't make the playoffs. #1 will make you go "well, yeah, that makes sense" and nod in agreement.

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Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Teams that start their seasons 1-9 have never made the playoffs.  This is factually accurate.

The Blue Jays are likely not going to make the playoffs.  This is mathematically accurate.

The Blue Jays are not going to make the playoffs because they started 1-9 and no team that has ever started 1-9 has made the playoffs.  This is bad logic.



Assembled before you is a list of all 13 teams in the last 30 years to open a season 1-9 or 0-10, sorted by end of season W%:

Gerse 4/15/2017

10 of these teams finished the season with a win percentage touching .400 or below.  Despite their awful start to the season and the Bayesian implications thereof, the Blue Jays are still projected by Fangraphs for a roughly .520 rest of season win rate (+/- a few points depending on which version of their simulation you choose).  You might think .520 is too bullish, but at minimum I trust you'd agree that there's an order of magnitude of difference in talent levels between the 2017 Jays and the aforementioned goombas, and thus also agree that only the 2010 Astros, 1997 Cubs, and 1992 Royals make for reasonable comparables for the 2017 Jays. Further, I'll argue that because 1992 predates the doubling of available playoff berths with the introduction of the Wild Card and three division format, the '92 Royals, too, make for a poor comparison.

So, we're left with 2 relevant team seasons out of 654 between 1995 to 2016.  That's...a pretty small sample.  Really small.  "Playoff teams don't start the season 1-9! The evidence is right above us!" Damien Simmons cries out.  Alas, the simple. boring, doesn't-make-for-good-doom-and-gloom-newspaper-articles truth is that almost no teams start the season 1-9 or 0-10.  Even indulging the obvious fallacy one would need to employ in order to grant teams of failed seasons past some sort of agency over how this year's Jays team performs, and ignoring Occam's Razor, you still wouldn't get far trying to draw a conclusion from n=2.

So, your 2017 Toronto Blue Jays are very likely going to miss the playoffs.  Using assumptions as favourable as we can - .520 expected w% going forward and 87 total wins to make the 2nd Wild Card spot - and assuming a binomial distribution, the mathmobile spits out a 14.7% chance of making the (fake) playoffs.  If you assume probably more realistically that they're a .500 talent team going forward, those chances fall all the way down to 6%.

Gerse 4/15/2017 2

The Jays aren't going to miss the playoffs because other teams that started 1-9 also missed the playoffs, they're going to miss the playoffs because they're 1-9 and going 86-66 is hard for a .500ish team.  Teach people who parrot the former about the agency fallacy and/or sample sizes. Or yell at them.  Both are potentially effective, but only one is cathartic.