Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are now underdogs in the NL Central after being swept by St. Louis over the weekend. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

So it turns out being swept by the St. Louis Cardinals hurts your chances of winning the National League Central division.

The Pittsburgh Pirates dropped all three games at Busch Stadium this weekend, by a margin of 26-10, to move from odds-on division favorite to underdogs in the Central.

Let’s look at the standings for the three-team fight:

  1. St. Louis: 83-60
  2. Pittsburgh: 81-61 (1.5 games back)
  3. Cincinnati: 82-62 (1.5 games back)

The Pirates have a slight advantage over the Cincinnati Reds, given the Bucs’ better winning percentage.

On to the odds!

Baseball Prospectus: 92-70 record, 18.8% division odds, 99.7% playoff odds

The projections from BP show the Reds (27.9%) and the Cardinals (53.3%) as more likely to win the NL Central. Pittsburgh dug quite a hole for itself being swept in St. Louis. But given that BP projects all three teams to finish within two games of each other, there is high potential for #TeamEntropy and a possible three-way tie for the division.

There is also a better-than-99-percent chance the Wild Card Coin Flip Game will be some combination of the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates. Washington, the closest competitor for a spot, is eight games back.

Clay Davenport: 92-70 record, 19.1% division odds, 99.5% playoff odds

For the first time that we have seen, Davenport’s projections are actually more optimistic about the Pirates’ chances to win the Central than BP’s (though not much). The Pirates would likely have to finish 14-6 or better to take the division and avoid the Coin Flip Game.

FanGraphs: 92-70 record, 18.4% division odds, 99.4% playoff odds

If you combine the odds from BP and FanGraphs, the Pirates have a 59-percent chance to make it to the NLDS and a 5.4-percent chance to win the World Series. Cue Dumb and Dumber…

All three systems just hammer home the same point: the NL Playoffs will almost certainly involve Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Los Angeles. Atlanta will likely get home field advantage and face the Wild Card winner, while Los Angeles will likely take on the NL Central champion.

How that plays out over the last three weeks? Well, the future is scary. Bring a friend and a calculator.

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