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Baseball Deathwatch started
2007-08-11 10:24
by Bob Timmermann

It's just August 11, but it's not too early to check to see which team will get the dubious honor of being the first team to be eliminated from a chance at the postseason.

Thanks to the good people at the RIOT numbers site, run by people out of the UC Berkeley Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and the Haas School of Business, you can figure out if your favorite team's chances of being eliminated or clinching a spot are easier or harder than you think.

In the AL, it's no surprise that Tampa Bay, the team with the worst record in the majors, is the most likely to be eliminated first. The Rays have 47 games left and have to win at least 29 of them to have a chance at the postseason. And with just 29 wins everything would have to break just right for them to get a tie for a playoff spot.

In the NL, the Pirates may have the worst record, but the Giants have a slightly more difficult road to the postseason. That's because the four teams above the Giants in the NL West standings are all above .500 and all playoff contenders and they all play each other again this season, so there is a limit to how many games the teams in front of the Giants may lose. The Pirates have the advantage of playing in the NL Central where there are just two teams in contention, the Brewers and Cubs, and their records aren't that good. The Pirates do have the disadvantage of being the Pirates however. However, the Pirates and Giants are in the middle of a two-city, five-game series. After playing today and Sunday in San Francisco, the teams will fly to Pittsburgh to play a doubleheader to make up a pair of games canceled by poor weather.

Six teams in the NL cannot advance to the postseason without help: San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston, Washington, and Florida. Six teams in the AL are in a similar situation: Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Kansas City, Oakland, and Texas.

I'm guessing (and it's really a guess) that no team will be eliminated in August, but I would be surprised if Tampa Bay isn't the first one to go down. But don't count out the Giants, they are gaining on the field.



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