Last time we checked in, after sixty games, things were not exactly going well. The team had gone through a five-game losing streak. Although they were holding on at the .500 mark, that was merely treading water in the standings, and they had only the ninth-best record in the National League, so even the wild-card hopes were receding. The dreaded Fangraphs had their post-season odds at only 11.7%, though there was no real consensus as to the recent direction of our chances.
Things didn’t start off any better, being soundly beaten twice at the hands of the Dodgers, by a combined score of 12-1. Ouch. 10.5% said Fangraphs. But then, wouldn’t you know it, the D-backs avoided a sweep with a walk-off win in the series finale, and then began a very impressive road-trip, where they have gone 6-1 in Toronto, Philadelphia and Washington so far. They are now at 37-33, and four games above .500 for the first time since May 18. Remember when May was the month when the “real” Diamondbacks showed up? And wasn’t someone predicting we’d soon be 6-8 games below .500, and sinking fast? Well, the D-backs are 9-3 in June, and now have the second-best run differential in the NL.
They now sit two games back in the National League wild-card, level with the Rockies, and chasing the Phillies and Cubs who have the same record at 38-30. No-one else is above .500, so it would seem to be two of those four who are likely to make it, though there are still over ninety games left. But what do the recent good results mean for the overall playoff odds in the five systems which we’ve been monitoring?
- Fangraphs: 22.6% (division: 0.3%; wild-card 22.2%)
- Baseball Prospectus: 33.5% (division: 0.8%; wild-card 32.7%)
- FiveThirtyEight: 40% (division 3%; wild-card 37%)
- Numberfire: 37.8% (division: 0.2%; wild-card 37.6%)
- Baseball Reference: 47.5% (division 0.7; wild-card 46.8%)
That’s considerably better - close to double just what it was ten games ago by Fangraphs, and they had the SMALLEST increase of the systems, at 10.9%. Everyone else was between 14.3% (Prospectus) and 16.0% (both FiveThirtyEight and NumberFire). At Fangraphs, it has been higher on only one day this year, reaching 26.2% on May 17. Over at B-Ref, the seven-day improvement of +20.1% is the largest in the majors, and well ahead of the next best Braves (+12.5%). They also give Arizona the best percentage chance of any NL team of making the wild-card, with the most likely scenario being the D-backs facing the Cubs. Here’s the graph, showing the sharp uptick of late:
The next ten games seem to offer a chance to make up more ground. There are three more here in Washington, an off-day on Monday, and then it’s back to Chase Field for a home-stand beginning with a key series against those Rockies, where Arizona will seek to get revenge for the recent four-game sweep in Colorado. The Giants follow, should hopefully be easy pickings, and we then start a series against the Dodgers. However, I will not be around at that point (we’re going back to Scotland for that week), so the next full update will be after game #90. I’ll try to remember to make a note of the figures after #80 at least, so the graph doesn’t have an awkward gap!