Pirates Playoff Odds: Downturn After Losing Road Trip

McCutchen and Marte

The Pirates’ outfield could play a big role in their playoff push. (Photo by: David Hague)

After a 2-4 road trip, things look just a little bleaker for the Pirates.

Every Monday, l break down the playoff odds from Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs and ClayDavenport.com. This week, those projections dropped a little bit because the Bucs were swept in Atlanta and could not close their own sweep to even it up in Chicago.

Let’s look first at the standings as they sit on June 10.

National League Central

  1. St. Louis: 41-22 (—)
  2. Cincinnati: 37-26 (4.0 games back)
  3. Pittsburgh: 37-26 (4.0 GB)
  4. Chicago: 25-35 (14.5 GB)
  5. Milwaukee: 25-37 (15.5 GB)

National League Wild Card

  1. Cincinnati: 37-26 (—)
  2. Pittsburgh: 37-26 (—)
  3. San Francisco: 33-29 (3.5 games back)
  4. Colorado: 34-30 (3.5 GB)
  5. Washington: 31-31 (5.5 GB)
  6. Philadelphia: 31-33 (6.5 GB)
  7. San Diego: 29-34 (8.0 GB)
  8. Los Angeles: 27-35 (9.5 GB)

On to the odds!

Baseball Prospectus: 86.4 wins, 75.6 losses, 54.9% chance to make playoffs

BP’s PECOTA projections and depth charts still give the Pirates a better-than-50-50 chance to reach the postseason. Their odds went down 6.3 percentage points in the last week. They are still projected to play .500 baseball for the rest of the year, which would put them right in line with the Reds, Giants, Nationals and Rockies for one of the two Wild Card berths. More on those teams later.

The adjusted standings still show the Pirates as the National League’s luckiest team in terms of the win-loss record outperforming run differential and underlying statistics. But if the team just plays like the .500 squad those numbers suggest, they would still be in prime competition for the Wild Card game.

FanGraphs: 86 wins, 76 losses, Projected to earn second Wild Card

After the Pirates completed their trip 2-4, FanGraphs’ system goes in step to drop them from an 88-win team to an 86-win team. The system that uses ZiPS projections and site depth charts to project the Bucs to play one game under .500 the rest of the season, scoring more runs per game than they have so far but also allowing more runs. In the FanGraphs standings, Pittsburgh would beat Arizona by two games to go to Cincinnati for the Wild Card playoff.

FanGraphs’ depth charts show the following Pirates players will contribute most to the rest-of-season run: Andrew McCutchen (3.3 WAR), Russell Martin (1.8 WAR), Starling Marte (1.7 WAR), Neil Walker (1.6 WAR) and A.J. Burnett (1.5 WAR).

ClayDavenport.com: 86.3 wins, 75.7 losses, 48.6% chance to make playoffs

The odds from the co-founder of Baseball Prospectus are less optimistic about the Pirates than those from his former site. Davenport gives the Pirates a 13% chance to win the NL Central but a 35% chance to play in the Wild Card game. The overall percentage ducks under the 53.1% odds to make the playoffs the Bucs had at the beginning of last week.


ZiPS projections (used by FanGraphs) see Gerrit Cole posting the following numbers over the 2013 season: 4.37 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 7.4 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and 0.4 wins above replacement.

Prospectus’ PECOTA numbers project Cole to do better this season: 3.33 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 7.0 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 1.2 wins above replacement.

The Competition

Pennant races do not happen in a vacuum. The Pirates are running with other National League teams for one of five postseason spots. To figure out who these contenders are, let’s look at which teams have 15% odds or better to make the playoffs in both Prospectus’ and Davenport’s odds.

  1. St. Louis Cardinals – 92% average odds, 94-68 record
  2. Atlanta Braves – 92% average odds, 93-69 record
  3. Cincinnati Reds – 78% average odds, 90-72 record
  4. San Francisco Giants – 60% average odds, 87-75 record
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates – 52% average odds, 86-76 record
  6. Arizona Diamondbacks – 46% average odds, 85-77 record
  7. Washington Nationals – 32% average odds, 84-78 record

Just missed: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Colorado

The future is bright. But it’s also scary. Bring a friend and a calculator.

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James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as NBCOlympics.com, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

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What Should We Expect From Gerrit Cole?

  • http://twitter.com/beatembuccos21 beatembuccos21

    I love this new on-going series. Many thanks, James. What I don’t love: watching the Pirates playoff chances decrease. Hopefully this will be a better week.

  • smurph

    The G-Men could be one of the teams challenging them for a WC. Why not sweep them this week and increase your odds?

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