I was away in Scotland at the point of the 80th game. I did intend to make a note of where the playoff odds for the Diamondbacks stood at that point, but it kinda escaped my attention, swept away in a tidal-wave of lovely and extremely green scenery. Back to the drab browns and yellows of Arizona now though, so let’s take a look and see how the team have done in my absence. Unfortunately, the answer is...not very well, going 8-12. However, it’s not as most of those in the wild-card race have set themselves on fire either. The exception being the Nationals, who have gone 14-5 to take one of the spots. Of the other teams equal to or ahead of the D-backs, the Cardinals (10-9) are the only ones above .500.
As a result Arizona, who were two games out of the second wild-card spot, are now... two games out of the second wild-card spot. However, a couple of things suggest to me that we should probably expect a drop in their playoff odds. Firstly, there are twenty fewer games on the schedule for them to make up the ground. And secondly, there are now two more teams between the D-backs and those wild-card spots, than there were at #70. But enough theorizing: let’s look at the numbers and see what they show us.
- Fangraphs: 14.7% (division: 0.0%; wild-card 14.7%)
- Baseball Prospectus: 29.5% (division: 0.1%; wild-card 29.4%)
- FiveThirtyEight: 29% (division 0%; wild-card 29%)
- Numberfire: 28.1% (division: 0.0%; wild-card 28.1%)
- Baseball Reference: 51.4% (division < 0.1%; wild-card 51.4%)
And, there we go. Four of the five systems show Arizona’s post-season odds as having dropped. The amount, as usual, does vary: Prospectus had the smallest decline at 4.0%. while FiveThirtyEight were the largest drop, down by 11.2%. The exception is Baseball Reference, which seems to be behaving VERY strangely. Last night’s win increased Arizona’s odds by more than fifteen percent, which with more than seventy games left seems a bit bizarre. It may be that their system uses run differential a lot more, and that’s an area in which the D-backs continue to do better than their record. They currently sit at +51, a figure comparable with the division-leading Braves (+58) and Cubs (+57).
On the other hand, the already slim hopes of the division have now all but evaporated, with most of the systems now zeroing out, and no-one giving us better than one in a thousand odds. That makes sense. We have lost five more games in the standings to the Dodgers since the last check-in, and now sit 141⁄2 behind Los Angeles (it was as high as 161⁄2 back after play on Thursday). It’s undeniably all about the wild-card now, if it wasn’t already. Here’s the chart showing the ebb and flow. I was able to plug in Game #80 figures for Fangraphs and B-R.com, the other three are interpolated.
Despite, the... eccentric results of Baseball Reference, the average odds have decreased a bit since we last checked in after the seventieth game. They dropped from 36.3% to 30.5%, slightly more than five percent down. The next ten games could well be decisive, with eight of them coming against our direct rivals: the finale today against Colorado, then after the break we play three in St. Louis and four back here against the Brewers, sandwiching a pair of contests in Texas. If Arizona is not above .500 by the next time we check in, I suspect we will not see Mike Hazen reaching for his check-book as the trade deadline approaches.