The Red Sox lead the AL East by the slimmest of margins after last night's dramatic, 10-inning victory at Fenway Park.
But the division is still basically a coinflip, according to coolstandings.com's probabilities.
The site has the Sox with a 51.8 percent chance of winning the division, and the Yankees at 48.1. Tampa Bay and Toronto both check in well below 1 percent.
New York, according to coolstandings, has a 98.7 percent chance of making the playoffs. Boston is at 98.6.
Here's how they do it:
How do we calculate these statistics? Basically we simulate the rest of the season millions of times, based on every team's performance to date and its remaining schedule. We then look at how many "seasons" a team won its division or won the wildcard, and voila - we have our numbers.
The trick, of course, is to determine what chance each team has of beating every other team. Our method is to use simple team statistics (e.g. runs scored and runs against) to predict how each team will fare against all others. For those of you familiar with baseball prediction, we use a variation of the Bill James "Pythagorean Theorem" to predict results. Pretty smart, huh? That's why we call this prediction mode "Smart mode".
Another method is to simply assume that any team has a 50-50 shot of beating any other team. You could flip a coin to decide who would win each game. This method isn't too realistic, but it usually gives Chicago teams a better shot at the division. For lack of a better term, we call this prediction mode "Dumb mode".