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What are the St. Louis Cardinals' odds of making the postseason?

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The Cardinals have a better chance of making the postseason than a flipped coin does landing on heads.

Rob Foldy

The Cardinals limp back to St. Louis to start a series against the lowly Padres tonight after a 2-4 road trip to Baltimore and Miami. Sans Yadier Molina and Michael Wacha, the Cards' run differential has sunk into the red. The team's offense has shown little life all season long. And yet the Cardinals are somehow in the thick of the postseason race.

Despite sitting atop the NL Central standings for nearly all of the season, the Brewers have done nothing to pull away. In fact, the pack has caught up with Milwaukee. Entering play tonight, the Pirates and Cardinals are breathing down the Brew Crew's collective neck. The Buccos are just a 1.5 games back in the standings; the Cards, a mere two.

NL Central Standings (8/14/14)

Place

Team

Wins

Losses

Pct.

Run Diff.

GB

1

Brewers

66

55

.545

+31

-

2

Pirates

64

56

.533

+12

1.5

3

Cardinals

63

56

.529

-8

2.0

4

Reds

60

60

.500

+28

5.5

5

Cubs

52

67

.437

-44

13.0

One of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's seminal accomplishments has been the expansion of October. Under Selig's reign, MLB has twice expanded its postseason structure. Now we have two Wild Card berths—the recipients of which will face off in a cruel, one-game death match. If the season ended today, the Cardinals would be one of the teams competing in the NLDS play-in game. What's more, they'd be a half-game out of having home-field advantage against the Pirates in the Wild Cards game.

NL Wild Card Standings (8/14/14)

Place

Team

Wins

Losses

Pct.

Run Diff.

WC2 GB

1

Dodgers (W)

69

53

.566

+57

-

2

Nationals (E)

65

53

.551

+86

-

3

Brewers (C)

66

55

.545

+31

-

4

Pirates (WC1)

64

56

.533

+12

0

5

Cardinals (WC2)

63

56

.529

-8

0

6

Giants

63

57

.525

+28

0.5

7

Braves

61

59

.508

-2

2.5

8

Reds

60

60

.500

+28

3.5

9

Marlins

59

61

.492

-34

4.5

10

Padres

57

62

.479

-10

6.0

11

Mets

57

64

.471

-5

7.0

12

Philies

53

68

.438

-76

11.0

13

Cubs

52

67

.437

-44

11.0

14

Diamondbacks

52

68

.433

-83

11.5

15

Rockies

46

74

.383

-78

17.5

Baseball Prospectus puts together a Playoff Odds Report daily. Nowadays, it can be found on MLB.com, complete with nifty graphs. Per that webpage, "Probabilities are based on thousands of Monte Carlo simulations of the remaining season schedule incorporating each team's year-to-date run differential, current roster composition, playing time projections and remaining schedule." Per Baseball Prospectus, the Redbirds have a roughly 50-50 chance at making the postseason this year.

Baseball Prospectus Postseason Odds (8/14/14)

Place

Team

Playoffs

Division

Wild Card

1

Dodgers

99.3%

93.6%

5.7%

2

Nationals

93.4%

90.4%

3.0%

3

Brewers

79.1%

43.4%

35.8%

4

Pirates

66.7%

28.4%

38.3%

5

Giants

56.2%

6.3%

50.0%

6

Cardinals

51.1%

23.2%

27.9%

7

Braves

20.9%

6.7%

14.1%

8

Reds

22.6%

5.1%

17.5%

9

Marlins

7.4%

2.1%

5.3%

10

Padres

1.3%

0.0%

1.3%

11

Mets

1.9%

1.1%

0.7%

12

Philies

0.1%

0.0%

0.1%

13

Cubs

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

14

Diamondbacks

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

15

Rockies

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

So here the Cardinals are. Despite the injuries, the underperformance, the manager, and more, the club stands a good shot of making the postseason—and might even be able to surge to a second consecutive division title. There's reason for optimism in Cardinaldom.

Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly stated that the Cardinals went 2-6 on their recent road trip to Baltimore and Miami. St. Louis went 2-4.