Here are the National League Central Division standings after 81 games:
Since May 1st, the Pirates are 35-23. That's the best record in the entire National League. (h/t: reader Devon)
At Baseball Prospectus, the Pirates have a 35% chance of making the playoffs based on their record right now, their remaining schedule, their performance thus far, and the PECOTA projections for the team.
Normally, I like to read the comments and learn / debate. Not today. Today all I can say is... WWWOOOOOHHHOOOOOOOO!!!!! BUCCOS!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
35%... hmm. This points out the problem with using past performance to indicate future results. What do you do if a team genuinely gets better? Is there a better chance that they'll continue as a real team, or that they'll go back to 2 runs/game with 10 Ks? IMO, there's a better chance that they'll play winning baseball. Maybe not at the pace they've played in June, but definitely .500 or better. I don't see these guys collapsing. This time, this is baseball.
And you might notice that Hurdle has adjusted his strategy; no small ball. Even the announcers mantioned it last night: 7th inning, Walker and Cutch on base with no outs, McGehee swings away. Jones swings away, gets on base. Then Alvarez gets to bat in a leveraged situation, instead of with two outs.
@TomBrenholts It's also worth noting that some of those projection systems include age and the arc of a player's career. An older player will be predicted to decline, and a younger player to perform better than he has in the past. I haven't seen PECOTA's projections, but it may have predicted McCutchen's continuing rise, for example, while also assuming that Burnett would decline even further from his performance as a Yankee.
@TomBrenholts Well, using PECOTA to project how they'll play the rest of the year doesn't assume they'll go back to 2 runs/game, it assumes they'll play about how we thought they would at the beginning of the season. For someone like, say, Pedro Alvarez, that might be a flawed approach, but for someone like Garrett Jones or maybe even James McDonald, it might be the right one.
@whygavs Thanks. I get all the different metrics mixed up sometimes. I fall pretty heavily toward the "this can be measured" side, but still retain a very strong "but that's why they play out all the games" attitude about it. My observation is that this team has changed. Yes, it could change back. But it got where it is with all those bad games already in the hopper. I'm used to seeing "baseball", now I'm seeing BASEBALL.
I guess that's why they're going to play the rest of the season, huh? It's going to be a stone cold blast, I think, regardless of what happens.
@whygavsYou know what's startling? the fact that a respected authority like BP actually gives them a 35% chance... of PLAYOFFS. Not .500, but actual post-season play!
Watch, tonight we'll start bunting and cs-ing ourselves out of innings. (What I find maddening is that stealing bases is a big deal when we're trying to do it, but not a big deal when the other guys are doing it. Pick one. It either matters, or it doesn't. But if you're going to be really bad at doing it, and really bad at stopping it, that is going to show up eventually.)
@TomBrenholts Oh, I'm with you on the "play the games" aspect, but the reality is that teams are comprised of more than their record and their runs scored/runs allowed. The BP odds take a lot of things into account, and so I think they offer the best overall picture when trying to gauge playoff chances at this juncture in the season. Obviously, you're never going to get a perfect reading on something like this, but it's instructive to know about how things shape up.
"Theo? Neal Huntington. How's things on the North Side these days? Oh? That bad, huh? Look, maybe we need to shake things up, get you out of your rut. That kid shortstop you have--what's his name, Kosco? Campos? Well, whatever--anyway, I'd really like to see this Rudy Owens in Indy get a shot at taking the bump every five days, but we just don't have room for him here, and I thought maybe my ol' buddy Theo could use a young left-hander...hello?"
@wkkortas This is a game I'm playing with my friends right now: how high would you go for Castro? IMO the kid has perennial All Star written all over him, with potential HoF. How much future do the Pirates have with him? How much without him?
I'd give up one of the top guys. Not two, but one.
@TomBrenholts Put it to you this way--if the Cubs would take Taillon and one of the second-tier guys for Castro, I make that trade every day and twice on Sunday.
@wkkortas I'm trying to think of what it would actually take. Castro is 7.3 WAR after 3 seasons, is currently 2nd in defensive WAR this year, led the league in hits last year, is 22 years old, and isn't eligible for free agency until 2017. (Gotta love Baseball Reference, source of the stats.) I think the key to making the deal (ie, giving a lot, and IF the Cubs would even listen), is the age and control. If he continues his upward arc, what is he worth? I think the Cubs would turn down either of our deals. Castro is already a top SS, our guys have no MLB experience.
@TomBrenholts That's a lot-- I think Marte and Hanson both have worlds of upside, and Marte's too close to being a significant contributor to make that deal. I would certainly consider Taillon, Grossman, and Hanson.
@wkkortas How about Taillon, Marte, and Alen Hanson? (I'd do that in a heartbeat, myself.)