Monday, August 15, 2005

What Will It Take?

Inspired by this electronic version of the Lincoln-Douglas debates (Abe Lincoln versus Michael Douglas, that is), I decided to take a cold stone sober look at out playoff chances, coming down from the rarified air of an easy three-game sweep of the worst team in the National League.

As I described in the original Playoff Pace post, the "gray area" for the playoffs is between 88 and 96 wins -- if you are south of 88, you are likely out, while if you are at 96 or better, you are almost certainly in.

As of today, here is what the Nats have to do to reach the various levels of the "gray" area:

88 wins: need to go 26-19, a .578 clip

90 wins: need to go 28-17, a .622 clip

92 wins: need to go 30-15, a .667 clip

94 wins: need to go 32-13, a .711 clip

96 wins: need to go 34-12, a .756 clip

For comparison purposes, so far this season we've played at a .530 clip, so we need to improve on that or we're out.

If we play like we played in the first 81 games, a .617 clip, we'll end up just barely in the gray area, with about 89 wins.

If we play at playoff pace from here on out (split on the road, 2 of 3 at home), a .586 clip, then we end up just barely in the gray area, at about at 88-89 wins.

And there is no guarantee at all this year, with five other teams realistically competing for the last wildcard spot, that 88 or 89 wins will get you anything this year.

My view is that 27-18 is the worst record we can have and still think playoffs, as that would give us 89 wins. That means we have to win 3 out of every 5 games. From here on out, we'll keep track on the sidebar how we're doing against that pace.


At 9:54 AM, Blogger Chris Needham said...

Oh yeah, mister number cruncher?

Well, what if we play at the same pace we've played the last three games? Huh?

It seems daunting, but then you realize that we'll have something like 10 more home games than road games by the end of the road trip.

Plus if Clemens' hip really is acting up, and if he misses any time, the Astros don't have much pitching depth.

I'm optimistic, but not confident.

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Will said...

According to this simulation of the rest of the season, the average Wild Card team has 89 wins, which means we could have a reasonable shot with 87 or 88.

Also, it's not just straight record that determines if we get the wild card. It's also who those wins come against. 27-18 is much better if many of those victories come against the Marlins and the Phillies.

At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Will said...

Hell, we still have seven games against Atlanta. That's more than enough to take them down and win the East. Not saying it will happen, but it could.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger DM said...

Combining Will and Chris's comments, what if we play like the last six games against the Marlins and Phillies? :)

The problem with the "7 games against Atlanta" point is that unless you win 6 or 7 of those games, you only make up at most 3 games against them. So we better be within 2 games of them by the time we meet if anything is going to happen.

At 10:12 AM, Blogger DM said...

Also, Will, I agree that the games against the Marlins and Phils are "high-value" games, but the problem is we're not just competing against them. Even if we win all of our games against them, the Mets and Astros are still in the hunt.

Obviously, I like our chances against the Mets over the Marlins/Phils, so we would do well to beat those teams. But it's a lot of work.

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Basil said...

I think 27-18 gets us in, or to a one-game playoff.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger El Gran Color Naranja said...

I think one of the top 5 (NL East + Houston) is going to have a 30+ win finish to the season and take the crown. There are just too many teams competing for me not to expect one to pull away.


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