There are different ways to measure the magnitude of pennant race collapses. One approach, which I’ve used in the past, is to calculate a team’s playoff probability after every game of the season, and to see which team had the highest probability of making the playoffs but failed to do so.
By that standard, the Red Sox collapse — if it comes to fruition — might rank as high as the second or third worst of all time, rivaling that of the 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers and the 2007 New York Mets. It wouldn’t be quite as bad, however, as that of the 1995 California Angels, who had in excess of a 99.9 percent chance of making the playoffs on Aug. 20, 1995, when they held a 9-and-a-half-game lead over the Texas Rangers in the A.L. West, and were 12 games ahead of the Yankees for the wild card, but missed the playoffs after finishing their year 12-26.
Not the worst-case, since they won on Tuesday, but still pretty epic. Especially delicious because I’m a Yankees fan.
Update: And they’re well aware of the proportions of the collapse
“It shouldn’t have been this way. We were 7-20 in September. We go 9-18, we’re where we want to be. Nine and 18 is winning one-third of your games. The worst teams in baseball win one-third of their games. There’s no excuse. We did this to ourselves.”