Pirates Playoff Odds Fall to 86 Percent After Two Series Losses

Andrew McCutchen Pirates
All-Star Andrew McCutchen is projected to be the Pirates’ MVP the rest of 2013. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Even though a 2-4 week is not a precursor to COLLAPSE 3.0: THE COLLAPSENING, every loss affects the Pirates’ chances of making the playoffs. With the team projected to win 91 games, every additional win or loss has a distinct effect on the playoff odds.

The Pirates have a 86% chance to make the playoffs, a drop of five percentage points from last week. On this day last year, the team had a 36% chance of reaching the postseason. All three projection systems see the Pirates going 38-37 over the rest of the season to win 91 games. Now it’s a whole new season, especially when you look at the standings:

National League

1. Pittsburgh: 53-34 (NL Central Co-Leader)
1. St. Louis: 53-34 (NL Central Co-Leader)
3. Atlanta: 50-38 (3.5 games back, NL East Leader)
3. Cincinnati: 50-38 (3.5 GB, 2nd Wild Card)
5. Arizona: 47-41 (6.5 GB, NL West Leader)
6. Washington: 46-42 (7.5 GB)
7. Philadelphia: 43-46 (11.0 GB)
7. Los Angeles: 42-45 (11.0 GB)

Look at my watch, it’s odds time! All three sites use their own projection systems and depth charts for simulations/projections, which are based on player’s past performance. Keep in mind that the Pirates’ odds were about 50 percent just a month ago, so these projections can and will fluctuate going forward.

Baseball Prospectus: 91.3 wins, 70.7 losses, 89.5% chance to make playoffs

Not much has changed with BP’s odds. Their PECOTA system still projects the Pirates to go about .500 the rest of the season (38-37) with better run scoring and worse run prevention. If you’re a fan interested only in the Bucs getting past the Wild Card game, BP says they have a 59% chance to do that.

There remain 70% odds that the Wild Card Game will include two NL Central teams, and the Pirates themselves have a 58% chance of playing in that Coin Flip Game. TBS should still be ready for either Reds-Cardinals, Reds-Pirates or Pirates-Cardinals in the one-game playoff.

Clay Davenport: 90.7 wins, 71.3 losses, 83.9% chance to make playoffs

The odds from BP’s co-founder continue to be a little more pessimistic about the Pirates’ chances, largely because his projections are still high on the Wild Card chances for the Washington Nationals. Davenport sees the Pirates having a 33% chance to win the National League Central and a 51% chance to play in the Wild Card Game.

FanGraphs: 91 wins, 71 losses

The Pirates would host the NL Wild Card Game against the Cincinnati Reds under FanGraphs’ projections. Their report is not odds-based; FanGraphs simply uses ZiPS projections and their depth charts to figure out a final win-loss total for every team. The site also sees Pittsburgh improving its offense (4.16 runs scored per game) while getting a bit worse in run prevention (4.10 runs allowed per game). St. Louis would win the Central by four games.

Which players will perform best?

Let’s combine the individual projections from FanGraphs (ZiPS) and Baseball Prospectus (PECOTA) to see who will contribute most to the Pirates’ continued success:

  • Andrew McCutchen: 2.4 Wins Above Replacement
  • Russell Martin: 1.2 WAR
  • Starling Marte: 1.1 WAR
  • Pedro Alvarez: 1.1 WAR
  • Neil Walker: 1.1 WAR
  • Francisco Liriano: 1.0 WAR

Just for kicks, let’s look at the projections for some potential trade targets over the rest of 2013. These are just names I am throwing out there, no reported connection with the Pirates, but all could help improve the Pirates’ postseason hopes:

  • LHP Chris Sale (CWS): 2.2 WAR
  • RF Giancarlo Stanton (MIA): 1.7 WAR
  • RHP Yovani Gallardo (MIL): 1.3 WAR
  • RHP Matt Garza (CHC): 1.3 WAR
  • RF Josh Willingham (MIN): 1.1 WAR
  • 1B/RF Michael Morse (SEA): 0.8 WAR
  • RF Alex Rios (CWS): 0.7 WAR
  • 1B Justin Morneau (MIN): 0.7 WAR
  • RF Nate Schierholtz (CHC): 0.6 WAR
  • RHP Bud Norris (HOU): 0.5 WAR
  • RF Marlon Byrd (NYM): 0.4 WAR
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Do not see that happening. People can dream, that is the American way.

Jeremy J Stein

Yeah, I’m probably asking for too much.

Although it’s not unreasonable that the Pirates could get Rios for say Tabata, Kingham and Dodson.

Jeremy J Stein

I got a crazy idea for a trade.
Pirates trade to White Sox: Barmes, Tabata, Hanson, Kingham and Reid
White Sox trade to Pirates: Alexei Ramirez, Alex Rios and Jesse Crain.
Would be a win for Pirates as Ramirez would be around until 2016, he and Mercer would be the SS tandom. Rios would be an upgrade over Tabata and has a 2015 team option, so he could hold RF down until Polanco arrives. Crain would be a rental and provide solid bullpen depth.
For the White Sox, Tabata would be a cheaper/younger option to hold a spot until Hawkins is ready. They can move Beckham to SS and give Carlos Sanchez a shot at 2nd next year so Hanson would be a backup plan. The real incentive would be Kingham, since the White Sox probably need pittching prospects, although they would probably want Glasnow or Taillon (although I wouldn’t trade those two). Maybe Kingham and Holmes?

Jeremy J Stein

On a side note, Rios and Ramirez are pretty solid hitters against LHP.
Yeah I think the Pirates would have to throw in a couple more prospects. How about in addition to Hanson and Kingham, they throw in Holmes and Dodson to make it a 10 player trade.

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