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Some Good News

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:

The Wild Card Race on October 3rd
Based on Today's W-L Percentages
Team Todays
W-L %
Astros .540 87 75
Nationals .523 84 78
Marlins .518 83 79
Phillies .518 83 79
Mets .514 83 79

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:

Projected Wild Card Standings on October Third
When Figuring in Current Home and Away Performance
Ex Home
Ex Road
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:

Projected Pythagorean
Wild Card Standings on October 3rd
Team Proj
Pyth. W
Pyth. L
476 424 .558 Astros 90 72
509 463 .547 Mets 88 74
503 475 .529 Marlins 85 77
517 516 .501 Phillies 81 81
425 447 .475 Nationals 76 86

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:

Make that "Pythagenport,"
Not "Pythagorean"
W1 L1 Pythagenport
W Pct
Team Ex W Ex L
61.1 49.8 .550 Astros 89 73
60.2 50.8 .542 Mets 87 75
57.4 51.6 .526 Marlins 84 78
55.9 56.1 .499 Phillies 80 82
52.8 58.2 .475 Nationals 77 85

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?

Strength of Schedule
Among Wild Card Contenders
Astros .497
Mets .505
Phillies .505
Marlins .514
Nationals .514

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.