[Note: what with the draft yesterday morning, a day game in the afternoon, and an unexpected trade last night, this got squeezed out. Fortunately, it’s an off-day today! Just to be clear - none of what follows included the series final
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: 17.8% division, 9.6% wild-card = 27.4% playoffs
- Baseball Prospectus: 41.9% division, 14.3% wild-card = 56.2% playoffs
- FiveThirtyEight: 40% division, 11% wild-card = 51% playoffs
- NumberFire: 43.0% division, 9.0% wild-card = 52.0% playoffs
This is an interesting set of results. None of them have moved very much but two are negative, one postive and one unchanged about the D-backs’ overall play-off odds. You might be forgiven for having expected better, given that the team has recaptured first place in the National League West since we last looked. However, things have tightened up generally in the division. Despite the series win over the Reds and sweep of the Marlins, the Dodgers have caught up a game on the D-backs, and are back at .500 for the first time since April 24. The gap is now narrow enough that the projected rest of season record makes them favorites.
That is reflected in a drop across most of the systems in our divisional chances. But this has been somewhat counterbalanced by a general improvement in the wild-card odds. After 50 games, the Diamondbacks had the 10th-best record in the league, and that was reflected in a wild-card chance which averaged out at 9.3%. The team have now moved up to 7th-best, and sit 2.5 games back of the wild-card teams, currently the Cubs and Nationals (though obviously, Arizona is still leading their division). Our average wild-card odds have improved to 11.0% accordingly. Combining the two, here are the graphs showing Arizona’s playoff odds for all four systems since Opening Day:
All told, the average is hardly changed at all - down less than one percent (0.7%, to be precise), at 46.7%. As usual, Fangraphs remains considerably more pessimistic than the other systems, but it’s interesting to note that their current value is almost the same as it was on Opening Day. This reflects a National League West which has been the baseball equivalent of a flotilla of swans over the first two months: an awful lot of pedaling going on below the surface, but nothing much has changed above it. Er, I feel that metaphor fell apart somewhere in the middle, but you know what I mean. Maybe I should have gone with French: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
The next 10 games are, as note above already under way, and for the first time in a while include a significant slice against our divisional rivals, with a series against the Rockies. However, that’s the last time we see the NL West in the first half of the season, with the next game not being until we face the Giants again, at Chase Field beginning on June 29. I get the feeling that the division won’t truly be decided until the teams start facing each other after the All-Star break. The other games in the upcoming set, are three against the Pirates and the Mets, back home after the Rockies series. So we’ll see how things fair then.