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80 games in: The Arizona Diamondbacks’ playoff odds

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Movin’ on up...

Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Another ten games in the book, so time to revisit the standings, the playoff odds of the various projection systems, and what history tells us has happened to previous teams with the Diamondbacks’ current record.

The last 10 games

The Diamondbacks went 6-4, winning series over the Rockies and Phillies, before dropping two of three at home against the Cardinals - their first series defeat at Chase since April. Despite the blowout loss yesterday, which ended a streak of 100 straight games without allowing double-digit runs, we still outscored the opposition 60-41, on the back of two mega-blowouts in Colorado. However, just as important as our own actions, was the spectacular meltdown of those Rockies. They followed up losing the series to the D-backs, by getting swept by the Dodgers and then, embarrassingly, giving the Giants their first sweep of the year.

The projection systems

A positive increase in overall expectations, ranging from +4.9% to +8.0%. This did conceal a dip in division hopes, as the Dodgers managed to pull ahead. But the slump in the Rockies fortunes, has led to them plummeting. Well, at least relatively: Fangraphs still has them at a 68.1% chance of at least a wild-card, but that is twenty-two points down on what it was before their losing streak began. The D-backs have been the main beneficiaries, even though their 6-4 record wasn’t particularly good. They were 8 points behind the Rockies, but are now 23 in front.

However, the last two defeats have cost us 2.7%, dropping the Diamondbacks down from a season high 94.2% chance after Monday night’s walk-off win. I think we’ll all be a lot happier after we have beaten (and, ideally, swept) Colorado over this weekend at Chase Field. Here’s the NL West chart from Fangraphs, since Opening Day.

Previous 80-game records

I’ve analyzed the results since 1998 of all 570 teams to this point, and whether or not they made the post-season. The chart below breaks down the records, and also lists the teams currently occupying each band in the 2017 standings. I used win percentage to decide their block, on an “at least” basis, e.g. you need at least a .600 W% to get into the 48-32 level.

The first 152 games, 1998-2016

Record Playoffs Non-playoff Percentage Teams
Record Playoffs Non-playoff Percentage Teams
89+ 81 2 97.6% Astros, Dodgers, Indians, Nationals
88-64 9 1 90.0%
87-65 11 4 73.3% D-backs, Red Sox
86-66 14 3 70.0%
85-67 9 6 60.0% Cubs
84-68 9 5 64.3% Yankees
83-69 8 10 44.4%
82-70 8 12 40.0% Rockies
81-71 1 18 28.0% Brewers
80-72 7 13 35.0%
79-73 4 19 17.4% Cardinals
< 79 1 315 0.3% THE FIELD

There’s no much difference once you get past 48-32, with all the categories above that sitting between 78% and 88%. Overall, teams that are 48-32 or better have a record of 52-11 at making the playoffs; so not a sure thing, but a very likely one. Down at the other end, if you’re below .500, it’s time realistically to start preparing to sell at the deadline, based on history. About one team every other year has managed to make the post-season with a losing record through 80 games. However, this might be the year, considering how the majority of sides in both the American and National League are currently below .500.

In a change from the usual pattern we’ve seen, this is slightly more pessimistic than the projection systems, in terms of the D-backs’ odds. But with eight of the ten teams to go 50-30 seeing playoff action, it’s pretty good. To start with the exceptions. The 2002 Dodgers didn’t make the cut, finishing third in the division that year behind us and the Giants. However, they would have taken the second-wild card spot under the current system, by eight games from the Astros. The others were the 2006 Red Sox, who folded thereafter, going 36-46, and would have finished a game out of a second wild-card spot that season, if there had been one.

As last time, here is what happened in the post-season to the eight teams who made it there, who share the Diamondbacks current record to this point.

  • 2002 Braves - lost in NLDS
  • 2003 Yankees - lost in World Series
  • 2005 Cardinals - lost in NLCS
  • 2007 Angels - lost in ALDS
  • 2011 Phillies - lost in NLDS
  • 2012 Rangers - lost in ALWC
  • 2013 Pirates - lost in NLDS
  • 2014 A’s - lost in ALWC