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NL Central race snapshot: How are the St. Louis Cardinals positioned to win the division?

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Andy Lyons/Getty Images

All three of the postseason contenders from the National League Central played on Sunday:

All three teams have Monday off, so there is no scoreboard watching to be done tonight. I put together a snapshot of the Central postseason race after the completion of play on September 13 and before the clubs take the field again on September 15. How are the Cardinals, PIrates, and Cubs positioned as we begin the 2015 season's final three weeks?

My snapshot takes graphic form (surprise, surprise). The graphic contains the Central standings for the clubs who are still alive in the division title race: St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. This even though the Reds and Brewers will have a say in who ultimately dons the division crown.

I also included the Fangraphs playoff odds, which are rendered like this:

The FanGraphs Playoff Odds are an adaption of the coolstandings.com playoff odds originally created by Greg Agami and Sean Walsh. To generate the playoff odds we simulate each season 10,000 times.

I use the Fangraphs projection mode for the playoff odds, though there are other options. This mode "uses a combination of Steamer and ZiPS projections and the FanGraphs Depth Charts to calculate the winning percentage of each remaning game in the major league season."

I added the Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs' so-called magic numbers to the graphic as well. This represents the sum of eam wins and opponent losses necessary for that team to finish ahead of the opponent in the standings. I used the following formula:

Magic Number = 162 + 1 - (Team Win Total) - (Opponent Loss Total)

For fun I included the magic numbers for St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Chicago against all postseason contenders, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, who are currently in first place in and likely to win their divisions. More substantively, it illustrates how good the Central is and how likely both wild-card berths are to be won by Central clubs.

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