Diamondbacks Playoff Odds: Weekly Update

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09: Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks completes his throw back uniform with custom shoes from Adidas during the MLB game against the San Diego Padres for the ten year celebration of the Diamondbacks World Series victory at Chase Field on September 9, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Pondy/Getty Images)

The Diamondbacks have won 15 of their last 17 games. It's the second such separate streak this season - they also did it from May 14-30 - which is kinda remarkable, given it didn't happen at all for Arizona during the 2004-2010 seasons. The only other time they managed it was during June 2003, and it's also tied for the best record in the majors this year over a 17-game span. If we win today, it would be a new franchise record, and the only team this year to match us would be the Brewers, who went 19-2 in July and August. But, unsurprisingly, going 6-1 since last time has helped the D-backs' playoff odds a bit.

How much, you ask? Well, let me tell you...

coolstandings.com has us at a 99.7% chance of both the division and the post-season. That's a scenario which has been wasted only twice in the history of playoff baseball, both under very different circumstances. In 1951, the Brooklyn Dodgers had a 12.5-game lead in the NL on August 13, only to be undone by the surging Giants, who went 39-8 down the stretch, to win the pennant on Bobby Thompson's "shot heard round the world." But the worst collapse of all were the 1995 Angels, who had a 99.9% chance on August 24, then lost 23 of their final 34 games. However, both teams blew their leads over at least twice as many games as we have left.

Let's do the projected final standings too, based on what the teams in the West have done of last. Given Arizona's recent phenomenal winning streak, this extrapolation looks particularly impressive for the Diamondbacks!

Now Last X Proj.
GB
Arizona 84-61 15-2 99-63 -
Los Angeles 71-72 14-5 85-77 14
San Francisco 75-69 8-10 83-79 16
Colorado 67-77 9-9 76-86 17
San Diego 62-83 4-13 66-96 33

It's probably unrealistic to expect Arizona to go 15-2 the rest of the way - that would be an overall performance comparable likely only to those '51 Giants. But even going barely .500 the remainder of the season would get to somewhere around 93 wins, and a comfortable title, even if the Dodgers continue their recent good form. Speaking of which, it's worth noting we have six games left against Los Angeles, and they are certainly playing well of late. If they wee to sweep San Francisco today and tomorrow, I think I would consider them a bigger threat. A split of those two games might be the best result from our perspective.

That said, we're still talking pretty slim, and at the moment, any concern over whether the Giants or Dodgers are the bigger threat, is like worrying over whether the meteor will hit your living-room or bed-room. The Diamondbacks just need to go 10-7 the rest of the way, to make nothing and no-one else matter. Ten wins by us; ten losses by the Giants; any combination thereof. What? You'd like to see the possible permutations, in an attractively color-coded chart? Why, certainly...

vs. Giants
others 3-0 2-1 1-2 0-3
14-0 AZ AZ AZ AZ
13-1 AZ AZ AZ AZ
12-2 AZ AZ AZ AZ
11-3 AZ AZ AZ AZ
10-4 AZ AZ AZ AZ
9-5 AZ AZ AZ 15-0
8-6 AZ AZ AZ 14-1
7-7 AZ AZ 15-0 13-2
6-8 AZ AZ 14-1 12-3
5-9 AZ 15-0 13-2 11-4
4-10 AZ 14-1 12-3 10-5
3-11 15-0 13-2 11-4 9-6
2-12 14-1 12-3 10-5 8-7
1-13 13-2 11-4 9-6 7-8
0-14 12-2 10-5 8-7 6-9

As usual, columns are our record in the remaining games against the Giants; the rows, our record in other contests (14 of those); the contents of each box are what SF has to do in their remaining games to force a play-off. For example, even in the nightmare scenario where the Diamondbacks don't win another game, getting swept by the Giants and going 0-14 against everyone else, the bottom-right cell tells us that San Francisco still needs to go 6-9 in addition to sweeping us, to have a tie-breaker.

That's a 9-9 record - and the Giants haven't even played .500 ball for any 18-game span in well over than a month; the last time was when they went 9-9 from July 15-August 3. The least time then won more than two in a row was also near the beginning of that sequence, on July 19th. In comparison, the last time the Diamondbacks were less than 8-10 over a stretch was May 16th. The six-game losing streak last month is the only time we've lost more than three in a row since then, and represents the only bump in the road for an Arizona team which has more wins (69) than any other in baseball since May 13th.

Because it's throwback weekend, the ever-expanding range of purple cells - now more than half - indicate scenarios where the D-backs are guaranteed the title, regardless of what the Giants do. For instance, if we take one of three from San Francisco, and go 8-6 elsewhere, we are NL West Champions, even if the Giants take every other game they play. Meanwhile, the Tenderloin Orange cells show... Well, they would show any similar scenarios for our rivals, but there aren't any. By next Saturday, it's possible this feature could be redundant, as we took ten off the magic number last week. The same again, and this would instead be my reaction to the NL West title. That'd be nice...

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