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130 games in: The Arizona Diamondbacks’ playoff odds

The SS Diamondback is no longer taking on water, and has resumed its journey towards Port Playoffs

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/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

A solid rebound spell for the D-backs, splitting the series in Houston, then winning against both the Mets and Giants. That gave them a record of 6-4 for this period. This was the best of the teams with whom they are directly batting: the Brewers were only 4-4, the Cardinals 4-5 and the Rockies a dismal 3-6. The last-named in particular proves beneficial to the D-backs, who overtook them for the first wild-card spot.

               Game #120    Game #130
Wild-card #1   COL  +1      ARI -
Wild-card #2   ARI   -      COL -1.5
NL Cent. #1    CHC   -      CHC -2
NL WC #3       MIL  -4      MIL -5
NL WC #4       STL  -5      MIA -6

Arizona now owns a wild-card spot by five games, a game better than previously, and now also has overtaken Colorado. Most importantly, it’s another 10 games off the schedule, and there now only 32 to play. Note the sudden arrival of the Marlins, replacing the Cardinals at the bottom of the chart. They’re likely too far back to do anything - but it is worth noting, they do have to come west and face both us and the Rockies in late September, so could still play spoiler.

The projection systems

Back up into the nineties by everyone bar 538 - perhaps they have decided to abandon proclaiming any “sure things” after the presidential election? They did have the biggest increase, up 11% from last time we looked - but then, there was much more room for improvement as well. But there was improvement across the board, from a minimum of 4.5% up. It will soon be time to start officially keeping track of the Diamondbacks’ magic number to clinch a post-season spot, I think - but I’m still a little superstitious about doing that in August!

Us vs. Them

The table below shows, for a range of outcomes over the Diamondbacks’ remaining games, what the first non-wild card team would currently have to do, to match our record. Even that might not necessarily mean a play-off game however: if the Rockies implode, they could be the ones missing out entirely. I’ve also include what our rival’s required pace is equivalent too, over a full season, to give you a better idea of how well they need to play.

 D-backs go     Rivals go    Season pace
 18-14 (pace)     23-9          116-46
 17-15            22-10         111-51
 16-16 (.500)     21-11         106-56
 15-17            20-12         101-61
 14-18            19-13          96-66
 13-19            18-14          91-71

This really hammers home the advantage of the shrinking schedule. The D-backs gained a game on the Brewers - who now have about 25% fewer games in which to catch up. As a result, even if Arizona only goes .500 the rest of the way, Milwaukee would need to go 21-11 to match us. That’s better than the Brewers have done over any 32-game stretch this season. As we mentioned on Friday, staying away from being swept by good teams, and proceeding as we have against the crappy ones, is virtually all the D-backs need to do to secure their spot.

Previous history

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 72-38 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

This figure is virtually unchanged from the figure 10 games ago, when 56.5% of teams with our record made the post-season. But, again, many of those were in back the days when there was only one wild-card slot. The availability of two definitely makes it more likely Arizona will get there, though of course, this now only means a play-in game to reach the NL Division series. The White Sox in 2014 and the Brewers in 2014 are the most recent 72-58 teams to miss out. The former went 13-19 the rest of the way, and as mentioned in our last round-up, the latter had an even bigger meltdown, including a spell where they won just one of 13 games. So there is still time for disaster to strike.