It would take a Hindenburg-esque crash for the Pirates to miss the MLB postseason (98-percent chance Bucs make it), but it is unlikely they will take the NL Central over the St. Louis Cardinals (32 percent).
The Bucs can shoulder some blame. The Pirates are 12-13 in August, a month that started with their 13-0 loss to the Cards. Meanwhile, St. Louis has rolled off a 16-11 record since the July 31 trade deadline, including those two extra-innings wins over Pittsburgh at Busch Stadium.
It takes two to tango for a division.
Take a look at the standings —
National League Central
- St. Louis: 78-55
- Pittsburgh: 77-55 (0.5 games back)
- Cincinnati: 75-59 (3.5 games back)
National League Wild Card
- Pittsburgh: 77-55 (3.0 games ahead)
- Cincinnati: 75-59 (—)
- Arizona: 68-64 (6.0 games back of Cincinnati)
- Washington: 67-65 (7.0 games back of Cincinnati)
On to the odds!
Baseball Prospectus: 92.6 wins, 69.4 losses, 32.4% division odds, 98.7% playoff odds
If you’re only interested in the Bucs making the eight-team playoffs (aka the Division Series round), Prospectus gives them a 64.2-percent chance to do so. St. Louis gets 53.3-percent odds to win the division, and Pittsburgh certainly has better than a puncher’s chance to take the Central from STL.
BP says there is a 6.4-percent chance that the Arizona Diamondbacks or Washington Nationals grab a Wild Card spot. That’s not impossible, but it’s just another reminder you will almost certainly see the one-game playoff settled in St. Louis, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati.
It sure was a good thing that Nationals saved Stephen Strasburg’s arm last season, eh?
Clay Davenport: 92 wins, 70 losses, 32.5% division odds, 98.1% playoff odds
For the first time (that we have seen) Davenport has shown higher odds for the Pirates to win the NL Central than Prospectus has. While St. Louis is still favored, that fact could change if the Pirates win or sweep this weekend’s series in Pittsburgh.
One interesting point: both Prospectus and Davenport project the Atlanta Braves to win 96 or 97 games and earn home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. That means it is likely the Wild Card winner will have to face Atlanta in the NLDS. Could the Pirates and Braves be on another postseason collision course?
FanGraphs: 92.6 wins, 69.4 losses, 31.1 % division odds, 98.5% playoff odds
The site, which now runs binomial simulations to offer percentage odds (!!!), says there is a 64.6-percent chance the Pirates reach the division series. That number is close to Prospectus’ number, so we can say the Bucs have a roughly two in three chance to make the eight-team bracket.
If you average out FanGraphs’ and Baseball Prospectus’ odds, the Bucs have a 4.5-percent chance to win the World Series. So get your bets in now. Also, FanGraphs projects a 10-percent chance the NL Central ends in a two-way tie, in which case the two tied teams would play a one-game playoff. The winner would go to the NLDS and the loser would host the Wild Card Playoff.
What will Marlon Byrd provide?
The systems say… not much. Both Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs project Byrd to be worth 0.1 WAR over the last month of the regular season. Keep in mind that even a good player like Neil Walker is only projected to be worth 0.3 or 0.4 wins, so don’t lose sleep over it.
Both sites also project John Buck to be worth 0.1 WAR the rest of the season, mostly because of good defense. He is only expected to hit around .222/.293/.380.
Prospectus expects Byrd to hit .263/.312/.412 the rest of the season, and FanGraphs .262/.309/.427. Those are pretty good numbers, but both sites see better future performance from Garrett Jones. You can either cry and say both systems are putting too much weight on Byrd’s poor numbers last year, or you can climb aboard the “Platoon Byrd and Jones in RF and Acquire Justin Morneau” Bandwagon that I am driving. (Though not a complete platoon since Byrd has the hot bat.)
Plenty of room for a friend and a calculator.