Pirates Still Playoff Contenders, But Need to Beat Their Own Division

The second half of the MLB season begins tomorrow, and the latest playoff projections have the Pittsburgh Pirates still listed as contenders. Last week they were moving up the list, but this week they were bumped back down after struggling against the Reds and Cardinals. Winning against their own division has been an issue, which I’ll go into below.

Each week we will break down the playoff odds and projections from the top three projection sites: Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs and ClayDavenport.com. Here are the latest projections.

Baseball Prospectus: 82.7 wins, 79.3 losses, 25.3% chance to make playoffs

The Baseball Prospectus odds dropped by about one win after the Pirates struggled against the Reds and the Cardinals. Their chances of making the playoffs went down from 32.1% last week.

FanGraphs: 83.5 wins, 78.5 losses, 34.5% chance to make playoffs

FanGraphs had the Pirates dropping lower than the BP projections, losing about a win and a half. They also lost ten percentage points in their case to make the playoffs. However, FanGraphs still is more optimistic about the Pirates’ chances than the BP projections. The Pirates are closer to the Reds in these projections than any of the other two.

Clay Davenport: 84.2 wins, 77.8 losses, 36.3% chance to make playoffs

The projections from Clay Davenport were the most optimistic on the Pirates last week, and continued to give them the best chance this week. They dropped one win after the rough week, and a little less than ten percentage points.

The Competition

Here are the rankings of the NL contenders. To get “contender” status, a team must have a 15% or better to make the playoffs in all three projection systems.

  Team Odds W L

1

Dodgers

87.1

90

72

2

Nationals

84.5

90

72

3

Giants

67.8

87

75

4

Cardinals

66.2

87

75

5

Braves

60.5

86

76

6

Brewers

49.2

85

77

7

Reds

46.8

85

77

8

Pirates

32.0

83

79

The Pirates looked good last week in these projections, although that was coming off a month where they played a lot of losing teams, and not many teams from the NL Central. They continued their struggles against NL Central teams this week, and dropped in the projections as a result. That’s unfortunate, as the other NL Central teams are also dropping. The Brewers have fallen past the Cardinals, despite Milwaukee still sitting in first place.

The current average projections have the Pirates with 83 wins. 86 wins will get the second Wild Card spot, and 87 wins either gets the NL Central or the first Wild Card spot. They need to pick up a few more wins over where they’re projected to finish right now. In order to do that, they’re going to need to do a better job of beating teams in their own division. They have six games remaining each against the Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers. That includes six of the last ten games of the season against Milwaukee and Cincinnati, and a stretch of 12 games against all three teams at the end of August and beginning of September. Those two stretches could determine whether the Pirates make the playoffs or not.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • kendallsankle

    the most aggravating thing to see is that half of these are NL Central…our division has been awesome for the last decade…and thats including the astros near the end! i always love looking at our win% and seeing how it would play in other divisions. hope to get to a game against cincy in september