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, 50 games into the season.
- Fangraphs: 14.8% division, 6.9% wild-card = 21.8% playoffs
- Baseball Prospectus: 46.8% division, 11.0% wild-card = 57.8% playoffs
- FiveThirtyEight: 40% division, 11% wild-card = 51% playoffs
- NumberFire: 51.5% division, 7.3% wild-card = 58.8% playoffs
Obviously, the recent terrible streak has had a significantly negative impact, decreasing the playoff odds between 22.0% and 31.2%. Fangraphs continues to be the least optimistic, slashing our post-season chances by the largest amount. In particular, our chances of winning the NL West according to them have been were cut by approaching two-thirds, down from 40.2% ten games ago, with the Dodgers once again installed as hot favorites, at 57.8%. However, the other three systems still have the Diamondbacks as a better than even shot to make the playoffs, and also give Arizona the highest percentage odds of taking the division championship home.
All told, I’d say the bulk of the figures are considerably more optimistic than the current state of fandom, though we’ll get a handle on that next week, in the monthly confidence poll. I think, in general, fans have a significantly shorter-term view of the team’s situation than these systems. When we’re playing well, it’s “Why aren’t the power rankings giving us our due?”, but almost as soon as the worm turns, it becomes “Season over”. Hopefully, last night’s convincing win - the first by a margin of more than three runs, in almost exactly a month - will turn the roller-coaster around, and we’ll see the odds heading up when we check back again. Here’s the chart showing how the four monitored projection systems have ebbed and flowed.
Combining the four of them, we get an average of 47.4%, which is down by 26.4% from the value just ten games ago. Can’t say that’s too unexpected, although as noted above, I’m almost surprised it wasn’t more. The good news for Arizona is, the tough part of the schedule is now over. Even if the team’s performance against other contenders was largely found wanting, at least the sides who beat them are not ones against whom they are directly competing in the NL West. The schedule now gives them a bit of a breather, with the next ten games consisting of two against the A’s in Oakland, three-game series back at Chase versus the Reds and Marlins, then two against the Giants in San Francisco. All of those teams are below .500, with Miami and Cincinnati propping up their divisions.
But as mentioned earlier in the week, it’s worth noting how the general failings of the NL West have made it (at this stage, anyway) likely that winning the division will be the only route to the post-season. Even the division leading Rockies only have the NINTH-best record in the National League going into play today, and most of those below them are in the West. Those Reds and Marlins are the only teams outside the West with a worse record than Colorado. At one point in late April, Arizona had better than a 30% chance of the wild-card, per Fangraphs. Now, no-one in the division is above 7.3%, though it is still tight. Only five games separate the Brewers, with the best record in the league, and the D-backs in tenth place.