Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AL CentralAmerican LeagueAnalysisDetroit TigersMLB

Even the Tigers could make the Postseason in 2020

If there is a baseball season, all 30 MLB teams will have a chance to make the postseason, and that includes the Detroit Tigers, who have only one player projected to be worth at least one win above replacement (FG) in 2020 (Matt Boyd). The average team has 4.1 such players.

The reason why the Tigers will have a shot to play meaningful games come October/November is simple: the amount of variability in a shortened campaign is vast.

In a 60-game season, each game holds significantly more meaning. In a 162-game season, one game represents approximately 0.6% of all games. On the other hand, one game represents about 1.7% of all games in a 60-game season.

A team that is two games above .500 (82-80) in a normal season has a winning percentage of .506. A team that is two games above .500 (31-29) in a wacky 60-game season has a winning percentage of .517. Every contest counts.

In terms of how a shortened season affects standings projections, it doesn’t really influence all that much, at least when it comes to W-L%.

Some of the ways it might affect them, though, are the introduction of the DH in the National League; players opting not to play; and managers using their pitchers differently.

Those factors, other than the second one, are tough to precisely incorporate into projections.

FanGraphs projects the Tigers to win 41.1% (24.7 out of 60) of their games in 2020. They are the only team facing league average competition (their strength of schedule is .500), which is why I picked them for this analysis (Detroit happens to be my favorite team as well). FanGraphs deems the Tigers’ true talent level to be .411 (that’s how FG’s simulations see the Tigers doing against league average competition).

The Tigers’ 2020 projected W-L% can be displayed using a normal model (mean of .411 [24.7 wins] and standard deviation of .0635… (square root of [.411*.589/60]), which is equivalent to roughly 3.8 games. Detroit will typically win between 20.9 and 28.5 games in 60-game simulations; usually they will finish with more wins than losses. In fact, there is around a 9 in 10 chance the Tigers finish below .500 (the exact mark hovers around 92%).

Here is a histogram of 10,000 Tigers W-L% simulations for 2020…

As you can see, the terrible Tigers could do alright in 2020 despite their clearly below average team.

There is almost a 5% chance that the Tigers win 31 games or more in 2020. That would put them close to a playoff berth!

Here were the best seasons for the Tigers…

  1. .644
  2. .629
  3. .623
  4. .622
  5. .621
  6. .620
  7. .619
  8. .618
  9. .616
  10. .612


  1. .132
  2. .202
  3. .203
  4. .204
  5. .205
  6. .211
  7. .215
  8. .216
  9. .223
  10. .223

38.6 wins (and 21.4 losses) was the best the Tigers mustered, and 7.9 wins (and 52.1 losses) was the worst they managed.

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons