May 12, 2021

What Might 2019 Have Looked Like With a Shortened Season? (FanGraphs)

MLB appears to be inevitably headed to a shortened schedule, and at this date, we don’t really have a great idea what that might look like. Fewer games is likely to mean a little more randomness. The 162-game schedule is long by design. With the talent levels of major league teams clustered fairly close together even at the extremes, playing 162 games exacerbates the differences that do exist. In a three-game series where one team has a 65% chance of winning each game, the underdog still wins more games a quarter of the time. If the same teams played a 45-game series, the odds of the underdog winning drop below 2%. That’s an example at the extremes. If a team was favored to win every game 55% of the time, they would still be considered much more talented in baseball terms, yet over 81 games, half a season’s worth, the underdog still wins nearly one in five series.

Dan Szymborski wrote earlier today about how the ZiPS 2020 playoff odds change based on different season lengths. I’m going to take a different approach. To provide some sense of how a different schedule can change outcomes, we can look how things unfolded last season. Here’s what the season would look…

Read “What Might 2019 Have Looked Like With a Shortened Season?” at FanGraphs