The New York Yankees are in disarray. Toronto, Tampa Bay and Boston are no where near being good enough to make the playoffs and the Baltimore Orioles are in first place.
It’s a good time to be an O’s fan.
The magic number for Baltimore is 16, much like their neighbors to the south in the District, who are most likely to clinch the NL East sometime over the weekend of September 18 through September 21, when they face the Miami Marlins. The Orioles could clinch a bit sooner.
Using Bill James’s log5 method to calculate the estimated win probability for each game, with team strength based on the 2014 Pythagenpat win percentage found at Fangraphs, we can run the remaining season 10,000 times and see when it is most likely for the Orioles’ magic number to be zero.
For example, the Orioles have a current Pythagenpat win percentage of 0.567, while the Reds are at 0.502. That means the Orioles have a 51.7 percent chance of winning this game. The Yankees (0.477 Pythagenpat) face the Red Sox (0.443 Pythagenpat), so New York has a 42.7 percent chance at a win. If the Orioles win and the Yankees lose, the magic number becomes 163 minus Orioles wins minus Yankees losses = 14. If both teams win, the magic number is 15. And so on. Do this 10,000 times for each game and we can get a good sense at how the remainder of the season will shake out. Here is how likely Baltimore is to clinch in each of their remaining games.
The good news for O’s fans is that there is a great chance their team clinches at home, especially during the 10-game homestand from September 12 through September 21. The best chance being the series against Toronto in mid-September. There is a smaller chance the O’s clinch against New York at home (September 12 through September 14).
Here is the complete game-by-game breakdown:
Note: This post incorrectly stated the Orioles magic number was 17 instead of 16. This has been changed.