Five weeks ago, the Pirates’ chances of reaching the playoffs were at 40 percent. Since then, Pittsburgh has gone 22-13 and improved their average odds to almost 80 percent. That’s good police work, Lou.
If the second Wild Card did not exist, the team’s odds would be about 50 percent. That’s what happens when baseball’s three most-winning teams are all in the same division.
All right, reset. What do the standings look like now?
National League Central
St. Louis: 47-29 (—)
Pittsburgh: 46-30 (1.0 game back)
Cincinnati: 45-32 (2.5 GB)
Chicago: 31-43 (15.0 GB)
Milwaukee: 31-43 (15.0 GB)
National League Wild Card
Pittsburgh: 46-30 (+1.5)
Cincinnati: 45-32 (—)
San Francisco: 38-37 (6.0 games back)
Colorado: 39-38 (6.0 GB)
San Diego: 38-38 (6.5 GB)
Washington: 37-38 (7.0 GB)
Philadelphia: 36-40 (8.5 GB)
Those Wild Card standings may be the most improbable aspect of the Pirates’ first-half surge. The Bucs are 7.5 games ahead of the last playoff spot in the National League.
Baseball Prospectus: 89.9 wins, 72.1 losses, 84.3% chance to make playoffs
BP’s playoff odds give the Pirates a big jump compared to last Monday, when they gave Pittsburgh a 63.5% chance to reach the postseason. Playing competitive baseball in Cincinnati and sweeping Anaheim improved the Pirates’ underlying statistics, and now BP projects the Bucs to go 44-42 over the rest of the season. The BP simulations say Pittsburgh will beat the San Francisco Giants by eight games (!!) for the second Wild Card but finish three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.
Their PECOTA projections see the biggest contributors the rest of the season as: Andrew McCutchen (2.5 WAR), Neil Walker (1.1 WAR), Gerrit Cole (1.1 WAR), Francisco Liriano (1.0 WAR), Pedro Alvarez (1.0 WAR) and Russell Martin (1.0 WAR).
FanGraphs: 89 wins, 73 losses, Projected to tie with Reds for Wild Card
The FanGraphs/ZiPS projections have the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds tying to play in the Coin Flip Game, beating all others by six games. FanGraphs still sees Pittsburgh as a .500 team the rest of the season, but has the Cardinals winning the National League by five games for baseball’s best record.
FanGraphs’ depth charts project the following players to add the most wins over the rest of 2013: Andrew McCutchen (2.9 WAR), Russell Martin (1.6 WAR), Pedro Alvarez (1.4 WAR), Starling Marte (1.3 WAR), Neil Walker (1.3 WAR) and Francisco Liriano (1.3 WAR).
ClayDavenport.com: 89.5 wins, 72.5 losses, 75.1% chance to make playoffs
Davenport’s Pirates odds have gone up by 19.4 percentage points since last Tuesday. Although Baseball Prospectus give Pittsburgh a 23% chance to win the division, Davenport’s projections say it is a 26% chance. The biggest differences between the two NL odds are the projections for the Washington Nationals (82 wins from BP, 84 wins from Davenport) and the San Francisco Giants (82 wins from BP, 87 wins from Davenport).
ZiPS projections (used by FanGraphs) see Gerrit Cole posting the following numbers over the rest of 2013: 4.28 ERA, 4.0 FIP, 7.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and 0.6 wins above replacement, just a bit better than last week’s projection.
Prospectus’ PECOTA numbers project Cole to do better the rest of this season: 3.25 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 1.1 wins above replacement.
Who are the Contenders?
Finally, we average out the playoff odds from BP and Davenport to figure out the Pirates’ biggest competition to reach the postseason.
- St. Louis Cardinals (92-70, 91% odds)
- Cincinnati Reds (90-72, 84% odds)
- Atlanta Braves (90-72, 87% odds)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (90-72, 80% odds)
- San Francisco Giants (85-77, 47% odds)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (85-77, 46% odds)
- Washington Nationals (83-79, 27% odds)
- Colorado Rockies (79-83, 12% odds)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (79-83, 11% odds)