The recent rough stretch for the Diamondbacks continued, going 3-7 and seeing their record drop all the way back to .500. They no longer occupy one of the National League wild-card spots. Indeed, the D-backs have dropped all the way back to sixth in that race, though it is still very tight, and they’re just two games back of the Braves, who currently own the second wild-card position. It is also worth pointing out that if the standings were based on Pythagorean W-L, we would still be in that second spot. On the other hand, we would be facing... the Cincinnati Reds in the wild-card game. They have outscored their opponents by 25 runs, despite being in the cellar of the Central with a 22-27 record.
We have a new addition to the list of odds-makers this week, with Baseball Reference having entered the fray. One of the useful things they have on their page is a 90% confidence band. This is the upper and lower estimate of wins for a team, in which they are almost certain they will fall at the end of the season. With more than two-third of the schedule still to be played, it’s still quite a large gap. For example, the band for the Diamondbacks has a 17-game spread, with the team potentially being anywhere between 75 and 92 wins. But as the the season progresses, that should likely narrow down. Though worth remembering, 90% confidence still means three MLB teams are likely to fall outside their expected spread.
- Fangraphs: 12.4% (division: 0.7%; wild-card 11.7%)
- Baseball Prospectus: 20.6% (division: 3.0%; wild-card 17.6%)
- FiveThirtyEight: 24% (division 4%; wild-card 20%)
- Numberfire: 19.4% (division: 0.8%; wild-card 18.6%)
- Baseball Reference: 30.3% (division 0.6%; wild-card 29.7%)
From the point of view of Arizona’s overall chances, the arrival of B-Ref is something of a saving grace. They see the team’s odds of making the post-season considerably more favorably than anyone else - more than twice as good as the notoriously pessimistic Fangraphs. They do seem rather volatile in comparison to the other methods. The 31st win of the season, for example, improved Arizona’s post-season odds there by 16.1%. That seems rather a lot, for a game in the first fifth of the schedule. Still, more data is good data, and I’ve added it to the graph below, which charts the progress through the season so far. and you can see we’re really not far off where the D-backs were seen on Opening Day.
Obviously, that’s disappointing, and a five-game losing streak is not the idea way to come into one of these assessments. On the other hand, however, the Diamondbacks’ playoff odds are still higher than they were on Opening Day, for both the systems (Fangraphs and B-R) for which was have those numbers. Overall, I think I would still say the team has performed better to this point than we would have expected, and the season will be defined by the 112 games to come, not the 50 already played. However, the sooner the team can get back to playing the way they did in sweeping the Yankees and beating the reigning World Series champions, the happier we will all be.