Pirates Playoff Odds: NL Central Could Be St. Louis-Pittsburgh Dead Heat

Neal Huntington Pirates

Pirates GM Neal Huntington (right) says he does not look at the standings — but we will.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a 98-percent chance to make the playoffs and a 36-percent chance to win the National League Central division, according to combined odds from Baseball Prospectus and Clay Davenport.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington says he does not even glance at the NL Wild Card standings.

“I really don’t look at standings, actually, because my focus is doing everything we can to prepare,” Huntington said Sunday. If we’re fortunate enough to get there, and it’s in our control right now, and our focus is on putting this club in a position to win today’s game.”

And Huntington is right to direct his attention toward the division title. If the Pirates are stuck in the Wild Card Coin Flip game, their odds of winning the World Series are essentially cut in half. So let’s delve into the Pirates’ playoff odds with that in mind after we look at the standings the GM says he does not pay any mind to.

National League Central

  1. Pitttsburgh Pirates — 73-51 (36.2% division odds)
  2. St. Louis Cardinals — 72-52 (35.6%, 1.0 game back)
  3. Cincinnati Reds — 71-54 (28.2%, 2.5 games back)

National League Wild Card

  • St. Louis — 72-52 (1.5 games ahead)
  • Cincinnati — 71-54 (—)
  • Arizona — 64-59 (6.0 games back)
  • Washington — 60-64 (10.5 games back)

Baseball Prospectus: 98.9% playoff odds, 39.5% division chance

A.J. Burnett Pirates

Strong starts from A.J. Burnett would certainly help the Pirates’ chances. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pirates’ odds on BP continue to hover around 99 percent, and the site gives them a better chance to take the Central over the Cardinals by 5.5 percentage points. Notably, the odds say the Bucs have a 68-percent chance to make the NL Division Series and the eight-team championship bracket, and the team’s overall odds are the same as last Monday despite dropping series to St. Louis and Arizona.

Clay Davenport: 97.4% playoff odds, 32.9% division chance

BP’s co-founder has the Cardinals as odds-on favorites to win the Central by projecting St. Louis to win 91.9 games over Pittsburgh’s 91.6 and Cincinnati’s 91.3. But the fact that Davenport’s projections only separate the three teams by less than a game with 38 games remaining for the Pirates shows how close the Central finish is expected to be.

FanGraphs: 93 wins, 69 losses

The standings from FanGraphs do not use simulations, so there are no odds. But you should note the site projects the Cardinals and Pirates to both finish 93-69, which would set up a one-game playoff between the two teams to decide who would go to the NL Division Series and who would play another one-game playoff for the Wild Card.

Author: 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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