Red Sox Collapse, Miss Postseason

How unlikely was the Red Sox’s late-season collapse, which, after last night’s loss to the Orioles in the final game of the season, saw the American League wild card go to the Tampa Bay Rays? On Sept. 3, the Red Sox had a nine-game lead over the Rays, giving them a 99.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. Things get even wackier if you factor in last night’s games. The Red Sox, leading the Baltimore Orioles with two outs and no runners on in the bottom of the ninth, had a 95.3 percent chance of winning that game—until closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up three consecutive hits. And the Rays, trailing the Yankees 7-0 in the eighth inning, scored six runs, another in the ninth, and a game-winner in the 12th. Adding up the various probabilities, Nate Silver estimates there was “one chance in 278 million of all these events coming together in quite this way.”