The St. Louis Cardinals secured a postseason berth on Saturday while in Chicago even though they lost to the Cubs. That's the fun thing about so-called magic numbers. Sometimes they go down even when you lose because the team that's chasing you loses, too. And on Saturday, that's just what the San Francisco Giants did. Their loss made it mathematically impossible for the Cardinals not to finish the year with one of the five best records in the National League. The Cardinals will consequently play in their fifth consecutive postseason next month. It remains to be seen whether they will do so as a wild-card entrant or division champion (for the third straight year).
Last Monday, I made a snapshot in graphic form of the NL Central playoff race. The graphic contains the Central standings for the clubs who are still alive in the division title race: St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. I got some requests to update it regularly, so I thought we could start doing so this morning and revisit it more often over the two weeks that remain in the 2015 MLB regular season.
I 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 used 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.
SBN and FanDuel have entered a daily fantasy baseball partnership. I like Jaime Garcia starting at the pitcher-friendly confines of Busch Stadium against the Reds. You can play FanDuel here.