Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pirates Chance Of Making The Playoffs (I'm Confused)

I'd like to think that I'm a fairly intelligent individual. I'm not sure if I can provide any specific examples of this other than the fact that I have a Master's degree. Well, that might not help my case. Perhaps earning free burritos for a year shows my intelligence?

Anyway, ESPN has a relatively new category on the Major League Baseball Standings: POFF. POFF is not some type of bug spray or something to repel urine, but the percentage chance of making the playoffs. Here are the National League Central standings as of today (May 16th):

Team / Record / Games Back / POFF (I'm sorry that this format doesn't look very good.)

St. Louis 21-15 - 84.1%

Cincinnati 18-17 2.5 36.1%

Pittsburgh 17-19 4 7.7%

Milwaukee 16-20 5 16.0%

Houston 15-21 6 12.8%

Chicago 15-21 6 12.2%

Even though the Pirates have better records than the Brewers, Astros and Cubs, they have a lower percent chance to reach the playoffs. I don't get it. While I'm sure that Pirates' run differential of -25 (runs scored - runs allowed) probably factors into this equation somehow, why would the Brewers have double the chance the reach the playoffs with a run differential of -23? (The Astros and Cubs have run differentials of +1 and -19 respectively.)

Meanwhile, the Colorado Rockies at 14-21 and 9.5 games out of the NL West have a 9.1% chance of reaching the playoffs with a -17 run differential. Although the Pirates are 2.5 games ahead of Colorado and 5.5 games closer to the division leader compared to the Rockies, the Bucs have a lower chance to reach the playoffs.

Can someone explain this to me?


Jason Spiegelman said...

Yes I can. given that the Pirates have a now admirable (snort) tradition of trading away virtually EVERY player with a modicum of talent as the trade deadline approaches (often to the Cubs), the fact that we may not be a shitty team now belies the fact that we will, most certainly, be a shitty team as the 162nd game approaches.

Captain Easychord said...

at the bottom of the standings, you'll see that it says, "playoff odds provided by"... coolstandings' methodology for determining playoff odds:
"How do we calculate these statistics? Basically we simulate the rest of the season millions of times, based on every team's performance to date and its remaining schedule. We then look at how many "seasons" a team won its division or won the wildcard, and voila - we have our numbers.

furthermore, from the site's FAQ regarding early season projections:
"You may notice that even before your team plays a single game, in "smart mode" the DIV, WC, and POFF coolstats are already calculated. ... As a result, we incorporate the team statistics from the previous year to estimate scores near the beginning of a season, then weigh these statistics less and less as data is accumulated for the current season."

if you look at the "dumb mode" of standings prediction on coolstandings - basically just a 50/50 coinflip of each remaining game - the pirates' playoff odds correlate to their place in the standings...

baseball prospectus has a similar projection system, based on PECOTA projections of player performance... if you're unhappy with the pirates' odds from coolstandings' methodology, you probably shouldn't look at the BP projection...

Sean said...

Jason - I certainly understand the Pirates history, but I don't think a statistic can factor in the possibility the team will trade McCutchen or Hanrahan this summer.

Captain - Thanks for the information. I guess the Pirates terrible hitting has a lot to do with the formula, but you would think the good pitching (and the overall record compared to the other teams I mentioned) would increase the percentage.