Pirates Playoff Odds Remain Above 98 Percent into August

PNC Park Crowd
Sellout crowds for October baseball are in PNC Park’s future. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pirates won four out of five games from the St. Louis Cardinals and two out of three from the Colorado Rockies last week. That is, hold on while I get my dictionary…

good thing. Good. Hmm, that’s a new word.

Anyway, Pittsburgh sat just under 98 percent playoff odds one week ago and now are just over 98 percent. There is less than a two percent chance the Pirates miss the postseason. However you put it, things seem pretty good for the Bucs

First let’s look at the National League Central picture:

  1. Pittsburgh: 67-44 (98.4% odds)
  2. St. Louis: 65-45 (1.5 games back, 98.2%)
  3. Cincinnati: 61-51 (6.5 games back, 87.1%)

And the Wild Card picture:

  1. St. Louis (5.0 games ahead)
  2. Cincinnati (—)
  3. Arizona: 56-55 (4.5 GB, 12.0%)
  4. Washington: 54-57 (6.5 GB, 7.3%)

So the Pirates find themselves 11 games inside the postseason hunt, which explains why their odds of reaching October are so high. The Atlanta Braves (99.6% playoff odds) and Los Angeles Dodgers (93.3%) are easy favorites to win the East and West divisions.

Let’s go fishin’ for odds!

Baseball Prospectus: 93.9 Wins, 68.1 Losses (99.2% chance of reaching playoffs)

The odds from Prospectus, utilizing PECOTA projections, say there is a less-than-1-in-100 chance the Pirates miss the postseason. Over the past week, Pittsburgh’s odds have jumped from 96.2 percent to 99.2 percent. Taking four of five from the Cardinals allowed the Bucs to leapfrog St. Louis both in the standings and in the odds of winning the division.

Prospectus gives the Pirates a 48.3-percent chance to win the Central compared to the Cardinals’ 43.7-percent. The poor Reds now have just an 8-percent chance. They also show off “adjusted” percentages, which give Pittsburgh 72.8-percent odds to make the division series and a 6-percent chance to win the World Series.

Clay Davenport: 92.4 Wins, 69.6 Losses (97.6% chance of reaching playoffs)

Davenport’s projections continue to be the least optimistic about the Pirates, saying they will go 25-26 over the rest of the season. However, even that result would be enough to tie the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central. It is comparing the Pirates’ 44.9-percent chance of winning the division to the Cards’ 44.3-percent chance.

In addition, it is incredibly likely the National League playoffs will be some form of Atlanta, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Los Angeles. Davenport gives that amalgamation 73.5 percent odds to happen and Prospectus give it 83 percent odds. If you’re planning to see the NL playoffs in person, start looking for flights to those cities.

FanGraphs: 94 Wins, 68 Losses

The ZiPS/FanGraphs projections are the most optimistic about the Pirates, expecting them to finish tied for the National League’s best record and as MLB’s best run prevention team (3.56 runs allowed per game).

An interesting writing to the FanGraphs standings is that the Atlanta Braves (projected 94-68) could easily finish as the NL’s best team as well. Keep in mind that the No. 1 seed in the league automatically faces the Wild Card winner. Would the Pirates rather face the Reds/Cardinals/Diamondbacks Wild Card team or the Los Angeles Dodgers? We will see how it plays out.


The future is scary. Bring a friend and a calculator.

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Brian Schafer

“saying they will go 25-26 over the rest of the season. However, even that result would be enough to tie the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.”

Huh? What if the Cards go 30-21? They’re only a game and a half out.


I don’t want the Reds and that’s about it.

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