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A way-too-early look at the Yankees’ playoff odds

It’s still incredibly early, but the Yankees had a best case start to their season.

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s already in the title, but it’s worth mentioning again. I know it’s April. But April is early, and April yields little to observe and everything to speculate. I find myself browsing stats pages just briefly investigating into whether a hot start will stick, or whether a cold streak will snap. I’ll look for some clues, but there isn’t much to investigate, because there just isn’t enough of a sample to witness a true change.

I also find myself checking Vegas odds and playoff odds. Those come with interesting early season results, and those numbers, as exciting or disappointing they may be, fail to include the lower and upper bounds of what can truly happen. A team off to a hot start can sink, and a team off to a horrid start can roar back. We know this.

It’s still worth nothing that the Yankees’ playoff odds are particularly good, even while knowing the above caveats. But just like me browsing a players’ individual stats page, a little spike in the right direction is better than the opposite, no matter the possibility of its predictive nature.

Despite the fact that the Yankees have somewhat hinted they’re rebuilding, or at least how it’s defined in the Bronx, the team still has the fourth-best playoff odds in the American League by FanGraphs (45.8%), Baseball Prospectus (38.5%), FiveThirtyEight (47%), and Vegas World Series odds (15/1).

This is obviously subject to change. I don’t need to tell anyone out there that some teams can fall off a cliff, and others can suddenly surge down the stretch. It wasn’t too long ago when the Yankees found themselves at the top of the AL East in July of 2015, only to see the Blue Jays blow them out of the water by the end of the year. More famously, there have been the 2011 Red Sox, the 2007 Mets, and especially the 1978 Red Sox/Yankees.

As I said, though, higher is still better than lower, no matter how you slice it. The Yankees have jumped to about 40-47% playoff odds from about 15% a month ago, and the only teams better positioned right now are the Astros, Red Sox, and Indians.

That’s because, surprisingly, so much has gone right. Aaron Judge has been a phenom, Chase Headley has exploded, Masahiro Tanaka is still an ace, and Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez still have yet to return. When they do, and even if the current group is just average moving forward, they’ll still be in the playoff conversation for a decent amount of time. And if they really are this good, they could very well be one of the better teams in the American League.

This is just a fun fact, and merely something to point out. I’ll be laughing at myself in two months when they’re barely hanging on to .500, but I’m just going to enjoy this for now.