The MLB playoff field has been set, which means we’ve got our first set of finalized World Series projections. Anything can happen in the playoffs, so the projections should be viewed as a guide for what is expected to happen, rather than a stone cold lock. Of course, that’s how all projections should be viewed. I bring this disclaimer up because the Pittsburgh Pirates are seeing some pretty poor odds to win the World Series. That’s understandable when you try and dig a bit further into what the projections might be predicting. Here is a look at the Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs odds.
The Baseball Prospectus odds have been down on the Pirates all season. So it’s a bit surprising that they’re favored slightly higher in the NL than the Cardinals, and ranking third in the league behind the Nationals and Dodgers. Here are the top five in the NL.
1. Washington Nationals – 16.1%
2. Los Angeles Dodgers – 13.1%
3. Pittsburgh Pirates – 5.6%
4. St. Louis Cardinals – 5.3%
5. San Francisco Giants – 4.9%
The Pirates only rank ahead of one team in the AL, and that team is the Kansas City Royals. If they win the Wild Card game, they’d have to go through the Washington Nationals, who are the favorites in the NL, and rank second to the Los Angeles Angels for the World Series favorites.
FanGraphs released an article today, detailing the odds of the Wild Card games, along with two sets of World Series odds. The Pirates are slight favorites in the Wild Card game, with a 52% chance of winning, even with Edinson Volquez as the starter.
Beyond that, the Pirates have the second worst odds of all ten playoff teams, finishing above the Giants with a 4% chance to win the World Series. An alternate model with the season-to-date stats has the Pirates at 5%, finishing ahead of the Giants and the Royals.
The Pirates are probably lower here for similar reasons as above. FanGraphs has the Nationals as favorites to win the World Series in both projections, and the Pirates would have to go through the top ranked team to just get to the NLCS (where they would then have to go through one of the top five ranked teams in the FanGraphs projections).
Overall, the Pirates could certainly upset some teams and make the World Series, but their path to the World Series likely goes through some of the toughest teams in the playoffs. Thus, it makes a lot of sense that the odds are slim.