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Numbers Say Royals Still Have A Chance

Jeremy Bernfeld

Down 3-2 to the Giants, you might think there’s no way the Royals end up winning the World Series. But you’d be wrong.

Sportswriter Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight crunched the numbers and he puts the Royals’ chances of claiming the crown at about 30 percent – in 100 parallel universes, there are about 30 ways the Royals end up with the title.

“They’re still right in it and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they won the World Series, truth be told,” Paine said.

Sure, they’re underdogs. The World Series is a best-of-seven series – the first team to win four games wins the championship. The Giants are up 3-2, leaving the Royals’ backs up against the wall and needing to sweep the final two games of the MLB season.

“But it’s not as dire as perhaps you would think if you just heard that and say they can’t afford to lose another game this whole season,” Paine said.

At 30 percent, the Royals’ odds of winning the series have dropped precipitously, according to Paine’s research. You’d expect that, after dropping three of five games.

In the top of the third inning of Game 4 on Saturday, the Royals were up 4-1. At that point, they had about an 82 percent chance to become World Series champs. The Giants mounted a comeback, won the game and won again Sunday to put the Royals in a deep hole.

Before the start of the World Series, Paine would have put the Royals as slight underdogs. Using available statistics, projected pitching matchups and calculating the teams’ expected winning percentage, Paine said, the Giants were favorites 51 percent of the time.

Ultimately, the season comes down to two games. The Royals’ young flamethrower Yordano Ventura takes the mound Tuesday against the Giants’ Jake Peavy. It’s not yet clear who would start Game 7 for Kansas City against the Giants’ Tim Hudson on Wednesday.

While 30 percent doesn’t give the Royals great odds, it doesn’t write them off.

“We have a tendency to hear numbers below 50 percent and think ‘Well that’s just not going to happen,’” Paine said. “But there’s a very real chance that the Royals win both of these games.”

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