Nationals Baseball: Road to hell paved with good intentions and playoff chances

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Road to hell paved with good intentions and playoff chances

The Nats CAN make the playoffs.

That's just a statement of fact. There are a number of scenarios we can play out where the Nats sneak into the playoffs by a game or two. But the Nats aren't likely to do it. How unlikely? I've tried to spell it out before but let's look at some other numbers.

Some sites actually give you playoff odds. These sites run hundreds (thousands?) of simulated seasons from the current point on and basically count up the number of times teams make the playoffs. They factor in as many stats as they can and let the computers figure it out. The exact opposite of "they don't play the game on paper", but it's generally been found to be pretty accurate.

Baseball Prospects - 2.1%
Cool Standings - 4.5%

All of this is based on the WC2. Divisional chances are nil.  The big advantage of these systems is it doesn't allow your games to be played in a vacuum. Meaning, if the Reds are losing big, someone else must be winning big. The whole picture changes all the time, not just team A catching team B.  For the Nats it's almost cut and dried, but there remains the Diamondback in the room that could potentially throw a monkey wrench into the plans of passing a dying Reds team.

I said yesterday to ignore the D-backs and you should, but that's only because the Nats winning scenario is so preposterous that for the D-backs to play as well at the same time would be like Jim Bowden actually catching lightning in a bottle. Take a look at any Nats in the playoff scenario and you'll see a Nats team that needs to play as well as anyone has played all year. 24-8? 4 teams have done that. What if we make it a more reasoable 22-10? Well 10 teams have done that, but note that they are all playoff teams or contenders. That's where I feel we're missing the big picture. Not "can the Reds go 13-17" or "can the Nats go 23-9"  but what that is exactly asking of these teams.

The Reds are a team that's 16 games above .500 at 74-58.  You want that team to suddenly play baseball like the Cubs for over a month.

The Nats are a .500 ball club. You want that team to suddenly have one of the best months anyone in baseball has had this year.

There are reasons why the Reds are where they are and the Nats are where they are. It's not just injuries either as the Nats have been basically a .500 team since everyone has been healthy. You aren't asking for things to simply break the Nats way. You're asking for fundamental changes in the identity of these teams that has been forged over the first 130 games of the season, with no particular reason for such a change. There have been no massive injuries, no major player acquisitions. One team needs to just turn it on and the other turn it off basically because it's necessary for the scenario.

It's fun though, right? That's more important. The Nats aren't really in the pennant race. They are, but they aren't, not when there's as good a chance for Milwaukee to catch the Nats as there is for the Nats to catch the Reds. But it's fun to pretend that they are. The season has given fans so much disappointment that creating a race out of moonbeams is all they have left. So give it to them Nats. Don't go 2-4 here and kill the even the dream. Do it. WIN DAMMIT.


cass said...

I'm not saying I'm glad it happened, but the Matt Harvey injury helps, right? And the fact that we miss Fernandez this week. That should be six days of smooth sailing, though how many times have we said that before?

Only thing to do now is sweep the Fish and see where we're at.

Donald said...

I agree that it's unrealistic to expect teams to change their fundamental identity 130 games into the season, though on the Nats side there may be one change -- they may actually have several players getting hot at the same time. They just need LaRoche to catch fire, which you'd almost bet would happen given his track record. But if Werth, Harper, Desmond, LaRoche and Ramos were all raking, it would make a big difference since Zim and Rendon aren't exactly holes in the line-up.

Really, though, it's unlikely that the Nats will win 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 4 while the Reds play .500 for a consistent stretch. But what is possible, and happens fairly frequently, is for a lucky week where the Nats go 6-1 or 7-0 while the Reds have a mini slump and go 2-5 or 1-6. Eight games back with 32 games to play seems insurmountable but 3 games back with 25 to go gets exciting.

Strasburger said...

Agreed. Harvery going down is unfortunate for him as a person, but very big for us. Not facing him helps hugely, sinc their rotation is obviously not very deep outside of him and wheeler.

Harper said...

cass - it helps. but you bring up another point that tells us how the Nats got here. They've had other easy parts of the sched, other times they were supposed to make a move and didn't. I guess fans will fall for it every time but I think wary-ness is the key.

Donald - having everyone healthy at least makes it possible. I think the Nats end up only say 6 games out so the question is will it be a slow boring slog? a fall back than meaningless rush? or a flight too close to the sun followed by a crash back down? Honestly the latter seems most likely sched wise.

Burger - Also helps Mejia went down. Of course now watch Dice K befuddle the Nats bats.

Froggy said...

I think this homestand IS our playoffs. We have to win every game (ok, maybe not every game, but only 1 loss at the most).

This is the NO Hyphens home stand! We have to play one game at a time and try and go 1 and 0 for the next 32 games. Not 2 out of 3, or 6 out of 7 for the home stand. The mental thing HAS to take precedent every game.

Rah-rah stuff aside, I agree with Donald, put your head down and maybe by the time you look up you are only 3-4 games out with 25 to go.

Also, wouldn't Marlon Byrd be a no brainer...21 homers, .285, etc? And only $130,000 left on his contract?

WiredHK said...

Unfortunately, I just can't see our bullpen allowing any sort of insane hot run to happen. It feels like everyone (even Clip, to a lesser extent) there has come unglued mentally and/or physically. Maybe that's the damage (mentally) of having no margin for error all year long, even when the team has a lead (always slim).

Anyway, baseball is a funny game. Sometimes teams get hot while others get cold and it happens all at once. There is very little hope for our boys, Donald said, just one good winning streak (say 6-7 in a row) coinciding with a solid Reds swoon (losers of, say, 5 of 6) and things get tight.

Why not dream? What's the downside? We're all going to watch the games anyway. We've all already been disappointed in the year, I can't see that getting worse just because we don't do something we're not expected to do now anyway. :)

Anonymous said...

I think it is more likely given past history that the Pirates win 7 games the rest of the way and the Nats sneak in that way. Of course the difference between a 4% chance at the playoffs and a 5% chance doesn't exactly make you want to plunk down money for playoff tickets just yet.

Nattydread said...

One game at a time. One game at a time. One game at a time.

Miles Treacy said...

good thing is reds have to play cards another 4 times i believe along with a pirates series. slim hope, but always possible. if only they can end the season winning a spot on a walkoff a la Longoria. that would be awesome.

Anonymous said...

More fun is to compare the schedules. Over the next 10 games.
The Reds play:
3 @ Colorado (good luck bullpen)
4 vs St Louis
3 vs the Dodgers.

That is not an easy schedule!

The Nats over the next 10 have:
4 vs Miami
3 vs NYM
3 vs Philly

I know which teams I would rather face.

Also 6 of the last 9 games for Cinci is against Pittsburgh. And we end the season with 3 at Arizona.

It could shape up to be an exciting set of games!