clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Are the Diamondbacks Contending In September?

Let’s compare the wild-card race to a foot race!

Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

It’s Friday morning. I feel angst because the Diamondbacks lost three in a row to the Mets. Are they in realistic contention for a wild-card spot?

Four teams are possibly contending for the third NL wild-card: the Diamondbacks, the Giants, the Reds, and the Marlins. Is there a way to objectively compare the teams?

Let’s compare the wild-card race to a foot race!

Who is ahead?

Wins would measure who is currently ahead in the race. The following table shows wins.

Data from Baseball Reference.

As of Friday morning, the Diamondbacks and Reds had 76 wins, while the Giants and Marlins had 75 wins. It’s a close race but the Diamondbacks and Reds are leading.

Tiebreakers could make a difference – they will be discussed later.

Whose legs must carry the most weight?

The strength of the remaining schedule measures the weight to be carried. The following table shows the strength of schedule (SOS) for the remaining games.

Data from

As of Friday morning, the Marlins faced the strongest schedule and the Reds faced the easiest schedule. The Diamondbacks are in between, with equal distances to strongest and weakest.

What if each runner performs very well?

Perhaps Baseball Reference’s 90th percentile confidence for wins at the end-of-season shows what would happen if each team performs very well. The following table shows their projected 90th percentile wins at the end-of-season.

Data from Baseball Reference.

As of Friday morning, if the teams perform at this level, the Diamondbacks will be tied with the Reds and Giants with 86 wins. The Marlins would be one win behind.

Who is on a hot streak of intangibles?

In the last ten games, two aspects of a possible hot streak are:

  • Wins and Losses.
  • Runs-scored minus Runs-allowed (RS minus RA).
Data from Baseball Reference.

As of Friday morning, all four teams had equal wins-losses (5-5) in the last ten games. The Diamondbacks had negative 9 runs, which was nearly as good as the best team (the Giants at negative 6 runs). The Marlins were worst at negative 16 runs.

Who can recover fastest from a stumble?

The Diamondbacks had a 9-game losing streak. They recovered from that big stumble to win 11 of the next 13 games. I give much of the credit to their manager Torey Lovullo. He is the best of the four managers.

My personal ranking of the other managers follows.

  • Skip Shumaker, Manager of Marlins, overcame an eight game losing streak this season.
  • Gabe Kapler, Manager of Giants, overcame a six game losing streak this season.
  • David Bell, Manager of Reds, overcame a six game losing streak this season.


The first tiebreaker is the win-loss record between the two tied teams. If three teams are tied, which could realistically happen, it’s more complex.

The Diamondbacks would lose the tie breaker against the Reds and Marlins. The Diamondbacks will soon play a two games series with the Giants. The Diamondbacks need to sweep that series to win their tiebreaker with the Giants. Otherwise, the Diamondbacks would lose all the possible tiebreakers.

The Diamondbacks need to focus on winning the wild-card outright.


Despite losing three consecutive games, as of Friday morning the Diamondbacks are in strong contention for the third NL wild-card!