As we did last season, we’ll track the D-backs’ post-season chances every ten games as the season progresses, until the number either reaches 100% or 0%. Here’s where we stand after the first 40 games of the season:
- Fangraphs: 40.2% division, 12.7% wild-card = 53.0% playoffs
- Baseball Prospectus: 73.8% division, 11.5% wild-card = 85.3% playoffs
- FiveThirtyEight: 62% division, 11% wild-card = 73% playoffs
- NumberFire: 77.0% division, 6.8% wild-card = 83.8% playoffs
Clearly, going 3-7 over the last ten, including a four-game sweep inflicted on the D-backs at home, is sub-optimal. But it has had a lot less impact on the team’s playoff odds than you would think from social media, where this weekend provided the first entries for the 2018 edition of “The D-backs’ season in negative Tweets.” Our division odds dropped by no more than three percent in any one of the projection systems. That’s because, poorly as Arizona played, they lose absolutely no ground against their nearest rival in these systems, since Los Angeles also went 3-7 - and against considerably weaker opposition than our Houston and Washington, losing to the Padres and being swept at home by the Reds.
Our overall playoff odds have dropped, by between 5-11% across the projections, largely as a result of us no longer being seen as having so much of a shot at the wild-card. The Rockies started brightly, sweeping the Mets in New York, but were then unable to beat the Angels or Brewers back at Coors Field. The team in the wild-card race who seem to have benefited most are the Pirates: according to Fangraphs, they have more than doubled their wild-card odds since we last checked in, going from 8.4% to 17.3%. The Braves’ wild-card chances have also increased over that time, from 10.0% to 17.7%. Here’s the chart showing how the four monitored projection systems have ebbed and flowed.
Adding all four projections together, the playoff odds for the D-backs are 73.8%; that’s down 7.1% from the 30-game mark, but is still approximately 73.7% better than what you’d imagine if you were on Twitter yesterday. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Arizona between now and our next check-in. With their record during the tough stretch having dropped to 9-10, they now have home and away series against the Brewers, split by three in New York against the Mets, before we enter a softer part of the calendar. Getting there with a .500 mark would still be a more than credible result, but they will certainly need to improve on how they have hit so far this month.
And remember this comment from our dear departed friend? “There is no question LA will win the division, they are simply too big to fail... To think that [Arizona] will make the playoffs, let alone win the division with such a competitive NL is foolish.” That’s looking on even thinner ice than ever. There was a sea-change today, with ZiPS now no longer having the Dodgers as even the second-best odds to win the division, at only 14% now trailing both the D-backs (65%) and Rockies (18%). Dan says, “ZiPS still thinks the Dodgers are better than the Diamondbacks and especially the Rockies when it comes to rest-of-season winning percentage. But that’s not enough.”
He’s probably right. No team in the wild-card era has started the season 16-24 and still made the playoffs; the last to do so were the 2009 Rockies. So here’s to that indeed proving true.