As we sit on this off-day, the Diamondbacks have got through April. They possess the third-best record in the National League, at 18-13, and sit just one game back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. Only they (20-13) and the Cardinals (20-12) are ahead of Arizona after a surprising first month. If the playoffs were today, we would host the Cubs in the wild-card play-off game. That’d be... “fun.” The team is not quite out of the schedule woods yet, but if they can get through the next ten in good shape - at Colorado and Tampa, then at home against Atlanta - they’ll be through the first quarter of the season, and way ahead of where they were expected to be.
To what extent is this good start being reflected in the team’s odds of making the post-season? Here are the numbers for the four systems.
- Fangraphs: 21.3% (division: 4.7%; wild-card 16.5%)
- Baseball Prospectus: 37.5% (division: 15.2%; wild-card 22.3%)
- FiveThirtyEight: 39% (division 14%; wild-card 25%)
- Numberfire: 35.8% (division: 7.4%; wild-card 28.4%)
We are still seeing Fangraphs lagging the other three systems. Jack noticed something which is likely a factor in that. If you look at the playing time projections which they are using, they seem slightly off, to put it mildly. Christian Walker getting only 85 PA at 1B and being worth just 0.2 fWAR? This is just a bit problematic, considering he has already had 116 PA, and been worth 1.2 fWAR. There are a bunch of other areas which seem at odds with how we’ve actually seen Torey Lovullo parcel up playing time. Such as Ketel Marte getting the bulk of CF - it has been Jarrod Dyson thus far, which in turn, has had a knock-on effect reducing Wilmer Flores’s at-bats.
That said, there was an increase across the board over the ten games since we last checked in on these, the D-backs having gone 7-3 in that time. Fangraphs were still less impressed than the others, going up by slightly more than ten percent (from 10.0%), while the other three systems showed an increase in the 14-16% range. Caution is still very much recommended. We remember, all too well, what happened when the calendar turned at this point last season, and the wheels fell off the previously unstoppable Diamondbacks juggernaut: the 20-8 April team suddenly imploded, finishing May barely above .500. On this day last year, Fangraphs had Arizona’s play-off odds at 63.7%... So, yeah.