Thursday’s trade deadline is quickly approaching, and it is crunch time for the Tampa Bay Rays. Huge moves with players like David Price and Ben Zobrist could be a mere hours away from being completed, or the Rays could stay put and make a playoff run. One big way that the front office will weigh their decisions is to look at the Rays playoff odds.
The Rays are a very analytical team- it is what has gotten their organization so far. They know to be realistic when the numbers say to be. Right now according to Baseball Prospectus, the Rays have a 15.4% chance of making the playoffs and an 8% chance of winning the Wild Card. Those odds are clearly not favorable, however you do have to remember that in the middle of June the Rays had a 0.1% chance of making the playoffs. They have made huge strides and are crawling back into the race.
When looking at those numbers, it is hard not to be skeptic. While a 15.4% chance is a great improvement, and the Rays have been hot lately, is it really enough? Think of it this way- the Rays have increased their playoff odds by 15% in one of the best month and a halves of their history. Inevitably they are going to come back to Earth to some degree, so with the season having just 2 months remaining can they really expect to make the playoffs? Also, they have a better shot at winning the Wild Card than the Division, so the Rays have to decide if it is worth jeopardizing their future to potentially play just one playoff game. The front office could very well look at those numbers and judge that it is still unrealistic to make the playoffs, thus making players like Price and Zobrist available via trades. It would be pretty much ignoring how the Rays have been playing lately, but it is logical nonetheless.
On the other hand, this team is finally showing the talent that caused many to pick them to win the World Series prior to the season. The team has won 29 of their last 41 games and 11 of their last 12. Kevin Kiermaier has sparked the offense, Ben Zobrist is finding his groove, and David Price is pitching the best baseball of his life. The Rays have truly turned the corner, and you have to wonder if they will ever look back. Start the playoffs with the Rays in it today, and given how well they have playing they could very well end up as World Series champs. It is hard not to get caught up in the emotion of the past month and a half with the Rays, and it is clear that they are a team with the talent to defy the odds and reach the playoffs.
All-in-all, this is one factor of many to consider, but it is a huge factor. The Rays playoff odds remain slim, and the Rays are an analytical team. But, they are playing some of the best baseball in Rays history, so can you really call it quits and disband that team? In the next day, we will have clarity on the situation.