MLB's spring training is just around the corner, and that means the season of projections and playoff odds is upon us.
One of those sets of numbers arrived on Tuesday via Fangraphs, and the results were what you would expect, give or take a few spots in a division race. The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and San Diego Padres are near locks to play October baseball. Less so with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies and Baltimore Orioles.
Things got interesting, however, when MLB tweeted out the odds to its 8.7 million Twitter followers, creating perhaps the first-ever instance of a league basically telling its fans that one of its teams has zero shot of making the playoffs.
In this case, it was the Orioles sitting with the full Blutarsky from Animal House: "Zero point zero."
— MLB (@MLB) February 16, 2021
Just as with Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections — which were also high on the Dodgers and low on the Orioles, but with some other odd predictions (apparently, the Braves should worry about finishing above .500 before thinking about repeating in the NL East) — Fangraphs' playoff odds drew their share of critics once released to the general baseball-viewing public.
Teams like the 2020 American League champions and the 2019 World Series champions didn't take too kindly to being told they have less than a 25 percent chance of making the playoffs, and the Pirates just wanted to light the whole thing on fire, similar to what they did with their payroll.
The Orioles at least took the double zero with some good humor:
Fangraphs itself ended up responding to the online noise, giving the people what they want with one exception:
Okay everyone, we’ve heard your feedback on our playoff odds and decided to make some tweaks to the math that should leave everybody happy pic.twitter.com/bBKgKJUd6N
— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) February 16, 2021
You really shouldn't need some advanced numbers to tell you the Orioles are going to be bad this year. The team went 25-35 last year, and their biggest offseason additions so far have been a 34-year-old Felix Hernandez and 31-year-old Freddy Galvis.
There is plenty to like about the team's future, but the Orioles had basically no interest in competing in 2021, not when the team's nascent youth movement remains in the minor leagues. Maybe former top overall pick Adley Rutschman shows up and immediately looks like the second coming of Joe Mauer, but it's going to take a lot more than that to get the Orioles to even .500 baseball.
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