Latest Playoff Odds Have the Pirates as a Near-Lock For the Post-Season

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been capitalizing on their easy schedule at the end of the 2014 season. They took on the Cubs and the Red Sox in the last week, going 5-1. That follows a week where they went 6-1 against the Cubs and Phillies, leading to a combined 11-2 stretch over the last two weeks. As a result, they’ve seen their playoff odds soar by about 60-70 percentage points in that time span, to the point where they are now near-locks to make the post-season. All three of the projections this week have them finishing with 87 wins, which means they’re predicted to go 5-5 in their final ten games. Considering the way they have been playing lately, it’s possible that they could add a few extra wins to those projections.

The playoff odds and projections come from the top three projection sites: Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs and ClayDavenport.com. Here are the latest projections.

Baseball Prospectus: 87.3 wins, 90.3% chance to make playoffs

The Baseball Prospectus odds went up by about 30 percentage points, with the Pirates picking up two extra wins in the projected standings. BP has the Pirates last among the remaining contenders. They also give the Pirates the fifth best World Series odds.

FanGraphs: 87.4 wins, 95.6% chance to make playoffs

FanGraphs has the highest odds on the Pirates, seeing a 25 point jump in the projections, along with a two win increase. The Pirates also rank fourth in terms of their chances of winning the World Series, finishing ahead of the Giants.

Clay Davenport: 87.4 wins, 93.5% chance to make playoffs

Clay Davenport went up by over 20 percentage points, and also saw a two win increase in the standings. Just like FanGraphs, they have the Pirates with the fourth best World Series odds.

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

Nationals

100.0

94

68

2

Dodgers

100.0

92

70

3

Cardinals

99.9

90

72

4

Giants

99.7

89

73

5

Pirates

93.1

87

75

Despite the appearance of a playoff race, only five teams are listed as contenders for the five playoff spots. The Braves and Brewers fell off the list this week, after dropping to an average of 18-19% last week. Unless the Pirates get swept this weekend, they’re pretty much a lock for the playoffs. Even if the Pirates get swept, they could still make the playoffs if they finish with a better record than Milwaukee over the final week.

As for the division odds, they aren’t strong. Baseball Prospectus has the Pirates at 8.8%. FanGraphs has them higher, at 15.9%. That’s probably because the Cardinals have a fairly easy schedule over the next ten days. Unless St. Louis sees a collapse in the final week, the Pirates won’t be winning the division. The best bet for the Pirates might be the first Wild Card spot. They’re only two games back from the Giants, and San Francisco has a somewhat difficult schedule in their final ten games. The Giants play three games against the Dodgers, and seven games against the Padres, who they’ve gone 6-6 against this year.

As for the actual standings, the Pirates take on the Brewers this weekend, currently holding a 3.5 game lead against Milwaukee. A series win would pretty much finish the Brewers. And if St. Louis and San Francisco lost some ground in the process against the Reds and Padres, respectively, then that wouldn’t be too bad either.

Analysis

  • Season series between Cubs and Cardinals is 7-9 right now, advantage Cardinals. Cubs always give the Cards fits.

  • Tim, didn’t Baseball Prospectus project the Pirates to finish below .500 with a win total in the mid 60’s somewhere ? And possibly even finishing 4th in the Division ?

    • Yes they had them winning something like 78 games.

      • Benjamin Sonnet
        September 19, 2014 6:38 pm

        And that’s probably right about where they would be without Josh Harrison.

        • Really? Tell me where they would be without Starling Marte in the the last 2 and a half months??? I ask because I argued with several people on this board that wanted to trade him. Marte has been the best and most important player the last 2 plus months.

          • I never left the Marte bandwagon and kept insisting how retarded people were for even thinking trading him, just plain stupid. I’m with you CSnumber, Marte has provided some extra legs to this playoff run that Pedro gave us last year, but again……..Josh and Russ are the engine but they can’t do it alone. Neil and Cutch being good but not great, and Marte and Mercer being hot interchangably has really been the difference.

        • Agreed. Cutch is Cutch, but he isn’t all that clutch. The passion of this team has always been tied to blue collar hard working clutch performers. Josh and Russ have been everything to this team this year. I honestly don’t know who i’d pick for team MVP, but i’d vote for that same player for league MVP in the same breath.

  • I was rooting for the Cards-Brewers to keep playing as many extra innings as possible last night. Maybe both teams will be just a bit extra tired for a couple of days.

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