Do the math…
Obviously, there’s no way to predict what is going to take place over the next six weeks, but we can take a look at what has happened to this point… and then break out the abacus.
Inspired by the back page of one of the Chicago papers earlier this week, I decided to sit down and crunch some numbers to determine the Tribe’s chances of capturing the division crown. As things stand right now, the Tigers (66-58) are in first with a winning percentage of .532. If that holds, Detroit would finish 86-76.
That being the case, Cleveland would need to go 25-16 over its final 41 games in order to achieve 87 wins, taking the division title outright. Given the Indians’ win-loss output to this stage in the game, the team needs to catch fire and a few breaks in order to piece together a winning streak.
No matter how you slice it — based on what has happened so far — the Tribe does not look like an 87-win team. Entering tonight’s game in Detroit, Cleveland is 62-59 and on pace for an 83-win finish. Somehow, the Indians needs to find out how to pick up four extra wins.
Perhaps having five more home games than road games can help?
Consider that the Indians have gone 33-25 at home (.569 winning percentage) and 29-34 on the road (.460) this season. If those percentages hold down the stretch, Cleveland projects to go 13-10 at home and 8-10 on the road. In order to beat that 21-20 finish (making for 83 wins overall), the Tribe needs to pick up the pace on the road.
Maybe the remaining slate of opponents can help?
Consider that the Indians have gone 19-18 (.514) against the AL East, 22-21 (.512) against the AL Central and 10-13 (.435) against the AL West. The Tribe is done seeing the East, so it’s all Central (29) and West (12) from here on out. If the winning percentages hold, Cleveland projects to go 15-14 vs. the ALC and 5-7 vs. the ALW.
That would lead to an 82-win season. That’s not going to cut it.
OK, well, maybe then, we should look at the specific teams left on the schedule?
The Indians have games left against the Tigers (8), White Sox (8), Twins (7), Royals (6), Mariners (5), A’s (4) and Rangers (3). Up to this point this season, the Tribe’s winning percentages against those teams, in that same order, are as follows: .600, .300, .455, .667, 1.000, .667 and .143.
Again, if those percentages were to hold, the Indians would finish with a 22-19 record down the stretch, which would make for an 84-78 finish. That’s getting closer to the end goal, but still falls a bit short.
Obviously, all these winning percentages will move up and down over the next 41 games. There is no way that they will all remain fixed as they stand right now. But, this at least shows that the Indians need to find a few extra wins in order to exceed the projections based on production to this point.
Can they do it? Definitely. But it won’t be easy, especially with 18 games in the final 16 days as part of a 45-game in 44 days stretch to finish the year. Say this about this season’s Indians, though, they always seem to pull themselves back into the mix after it looks like they’ve hit a wall.
One solid winning streak is all it might take.