The Yankees' postseason odds and the effect of the Wild Card game

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In the last couple of weeks, the Yankees have played quite well. It's gotten them some recognition as a potentially dangerous team in October, with it's solid rotation front three, an overpowering bullpen, and a deep lineup. The recent headlines certainly allow for some excitement about a potential World Series run. A sample of a few: Here's why the Yankees are better than you think they are, Yankees have the right formula to beat the Indians in October, and No One Will Want to Face These Yankees. That's a lot of high praise for a team likely destined for a Wild Card game in which the odds of winning won't be much better than a coin flip.

There's no question that the Yankees should win the Wild Card game, assuming they can't make up Boston's three game division lead in the season's final ten games. Of the teams battling for the second Wild Card spot, all are inferior to the Yankees. There's no need to look much further than the standings to prove that, as the Yankees currently stand seven games up on the Twins, who are holding on to that last playoff spot. That being said, the Yankees being favored doesn't make them a shoe-in, and that's frustrating. Weird things can happen in a single baseball game. In this postseason structure, winning the division is emphasized, and the Yankees will probably have to take on the risk of the Wild Card game because of it.

Despite all of the glowing articles about the Yankees being a dangerous postseason team, the club's chances of winning the World Series are slim. That doesn't mean the pieces penned about the team's postseason potential are wrong, of course. The Yankees are unquestionably a very good team. It's just that a little bit of bad luck could get in the way in the first game of the playoffs, hence the Yankees' likelihood of winning the World Series at 5.4% per Fangraphs' Playoff Odds page. According My Top Sportsbooks, the Yankees' championship odds are at 12/1, or about 7.7%, and most online sportsbooks have them at 14/1, or about 6.7%..

Depending on where you look, the Yankees have somewhere between a 5% and 8% chance of hoisting the franchise's 28th title. That's pretty low, and understandably so. Clearly, the risk of playing in the Wild Card game has been priced in to the odds. Though facing Cleveland or Houston in a five game series is unquestionably a tall task thereafter, it'd feel like a fairer fight. To get there, the Yankees will have to come out on the positive side of the Wild Card game that could be full of surprises. Should the Yankees do that, the odds of making a deep October run will be much more in the team's favor.