The thought of a 50-game schedule and the increasing chances of playing only western teams are not looking good for the Angels playoff chances.
Already in a division with the Houston Astros (scandal or not) and an upstart Oakland Athletics team, the playoff picture for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was already dim entering the 2020 season. Now with the season delayed and various proposals on the table for the resumption of play, the Halos may face an even bigger uphill battle.
The Angels finished 35 games out from the division-winning Astros in 2019 and were 24 games behind the final Wild Card slot last season. That led the team to make a number of moves over the winter, including adding a premium free agent in Anthony Rendon and making a number of additions to the pitching staff.
However, was it enough to make a big improvement in 2020?
That’s one thing that Dan Szymborksi of FanGraphs opted to look at recently. Running a revised ZiPS simulation on the entire league, taking into account the rumor of the owners wanting a 50-game schedule and the fact that teams would only play regional opponents, Szymborski extrapolated where each team would likely finish within their division and their accompanying playoff chances.
Unfortunately for the Angels, despite the opportunity to take advantage of a short season and catch fire early, the projections point to more of the same. The forecasts call for Anaheim to finish an even .500 at 25-25, which would place them four games out of the Astros. That would also leave the team in a potential three-way tie for the final Wild Card slot with the White Sox and Red Sox.
Ultimately, the model predicts that the Angels have a 17.7% chance of winning the division and a 16.2% chance at taking the Wild Card. However, they somehow maintain a 33.8% of making the postseason. And if these models are to be believed, we can forget about winning the World Series, with the Angels having the odds stacked against them to the tune of 3.1%.
Of course, these are just predictions and the real game isn’t played on paper. As mentioned above, the Angels have the same chance as any team to catch fire during a short season and could position themselves quite well with a hot start. As always, it will come down to pitching, and the Angels have used a boost from the delay to get healthy in that department, which could certainly lend a hand in the pursuit of the playoffs.
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However, this is all conjecture. All of these models and predictions depend on one important factor. The two sides, players and owners, must come to an agreement on financials to move forward and as it continues to drag out publicly, that looks more and more doubtful.