Been looking at this stuff all night, and I got great news.
It really, really looks as if Houston is gonna win that Wild Card. Check it out:
With 51 games to go, Houston has a two game lead in the Wild Card race. It's only natural to ask, will it hold up? Well, performance so far says, yeah. We've gotten this far, no reason we won't continue, right? Here's a table that projects the standings on October 3rd for the Top Five clubs in the WC race, based on today's* standings:
Whoo-Hoo! Make Those Reservations!
What's That you say? that it's a little simplistic? OK, OK, but it's best to start with the basics.
Now then, the Astros have been really good at home, and have kinda struggled on the road. And the Nationals, say, have been good at home. So what happens if you look at remaining schedules, home and away, and then prorate that based on home and away performance thus far?
Astros still finish first:
|Ex W||Ex L|
|Astros||36 - 15||24 - 36||.706||.400||30||21||21||8||60||51||89||73|
|Nationals||34 - 22||24 - 31||.607||.436||25||26||15||11||58||53||84||78|
|Marlins||29 - 24||28 - 29||.547||.491||28||24||15||11||57||53||83||79|
|Mets||36 - 23||21 - 31||.610||.404||22||29||13||11||57||54||81||81|
|Phillies||36 - 25||22 - 29||.590||.431||20||30||11||12||58||54||81||81|
Rem H, Rem A: Remaining Home and Away Games
Ex : Expected, as in Expected Road Wins
Note that the Astros not only have the best home record, they play the most home games here on out. Second best home record in the Mets? Second fewest home games left.
Let's look at the Pythagorean standings and what can be extrapolated from them:
Whoa! Highest number of victories predicted so far! It took the Astros 92 wins to get in as the WC last year, and 91 got the job done for the Marlins in '03. The last time 90 wins actually advanced somebody was in '98, when the Cubs squeaked in, a game ahead of the Giants, and two in front of New York.
Obviously, the more wins are evenly distributed among contenders, the fewer wins it's gonna take. And if us veterans of the Trade Deadline Watch know that there aren't enough really crappy teams this year, then it would follow that too many teams have won a respectable number of games. . . .
Astros have scored the fourth fewest runs among the Big Five, but allowed the fewest, too. And of course that differential is the largest. Glad we got those six extra runs Sunday against Frisco. . . . :-)
Although I'm still not sure I understand, some people prefer the version of the Pythagorean standings known as "Pythagenport." Some kind of logarithm gets added into the equation. If it suits you, we come out first there, too:
|Team||Ex W||Ex L|
Pythagenport Standings taken from Baseball Prospectus' Daily Page
Notice how these expected run measures always dis Washington, just because they happen to have been outscored :-)
The Prospectus People call the Pythagenport standings based on actual Runs Scored and Runs Allowed "First Order," and that's what you see here. They also figure a "Second Order" based on something called Equivalent Runs and Equivalent ERA. For what it's worth, the Astros would win 89 (and the Wild Card berth) by that second order measure, as well.
Fairness compels me to mention that there is also a "Third Order" win table the Prospectus publishes, which is basically the second order numbers adjusted for strength of schedule. We don't take that one, the Mets do, but it got me thinking. . .
How about strength of schedule the rest of the way? I summed the winning percentages of ALL opponents (including those shown in the chart). Guess who has the easiest schedule down the stretch?
What that last bit comes down to is all the NL East contenders gotta beat up on each other . . .
I guess the Cubs and Brewers fans of the world could say I've ignored them, and I guess I have. . . . the Brewers actually are a much more competent team than the Cubs right now, and they scare me more than a little bit.
But like Phil Garner never said, you gotta get within four teams of the Wild Card lead to get any respect in this league. Or to get any from The Crawfish Boxes.
*Florida had finished only the first half of their doubleheader at Colorado, and only that first game is included in anything I'm doing here.