How Cleveland’s Injuries Changed Our World Series Odds

Just a little more than a week ago, the Indians had a reportedly healthy Danny Salazar, a totally healthy Carlos Carrasco, and their odds of winning the World Series, according to our projections, sat at 13.4%. Aside from a 24-hour window back on July 5 during which Cleveland’s odds jumped up to 14.2%, last week’s figure was the highest of the year for the soon-to-be American League Central Division champions.

Of course, Salazar is no longer healthy, having finally given in to the right elbow that’s been barking at him for much of the season. He seems unlikely to contribute again until 2017. And of course, Carrasco is no longer healthy, having been knocked out just two pitches into his most recent start after being struck by an Ian Kinsler line drive and fracturing his throwing hand. He won’t contribute again until 2017.

Understandably, this has provided a huge blow to Cleveland’s odds, which our own Corinne Landrey touched upon this morning. While the Indians will still have a better shot at winning it all than all but seven teams come October, their odds have been cut from 13.4% to 9.3% in the blink of an eye, a 30% decrease that couldn’t occur so quickly without a devastating injury or two. Our projections have long viewed Cleveland as either the strongest contender for the American League pennant, or at least the team most likely to stand in someone else’s way. No longer is that the case.

But this isn’t about Cleveland, specifically. What the injuries mean for them is clear. What really grabbed my attention is the indirect ripple effect this caused on the outlook of the American League pennant race. More specifically, how the Chicago Cubs, for the first time all year, have been dethroned as outright World Series favorites, and how, at this moment, they now share that honor with the Boston Red Sox:

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At this second, our projections have the Red Sox with an 18.1% chance of hoisting the trophy, and the Cubs with an 18.1% chance. The projections still think the Cubs are the superior team, but the Red Sox’ potential road to the World Series just became notably easier, and the Cubs would have to go through the Dodgers or the Nationals, both powerhouses in their own right.

Things will change between now and the first round of playoff games, and of course anything can happen in the postseason. But it’s something worth noting, that the Cubs have been outright World Series favorites since Opening Day until now. Whatever advantage in skill the Cubs might hold over the Red Sox might be made up in the relative difficulty of Chicago’s postseason schedule to Boston’s.

Now let’s all get ready for that Orioles-Giants World Series.





August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at august.fagerstrom@fangraphs.com.

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chuck e
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chuck e

No one likes to see players injured, especially on a team that has endured such a long dry spell, However, they have a pretty mediocer record outside of their division and are killing the Central up 19 games. There are park factors and league factors. Ought division factors be worth thinking about in evaluating players/teams?