Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Wild Card

Down the stretch they come. The Cubs have a 1 game lead over the Giants, 1.5 over the Astros. The Cubs and Giants each have 6 games left, while the Astros have 5. Basically, the schedules shake out like this:

Cubs vs Reds (3), vs Braves (3)
Giants at Padres (3), at Dodgers (3)
Astros vs Cardinals (2), vs Rockies (3)

The Cubs are still the favorites accoring to the odds - they have a 79% chance of winning it according to Baseball-Prospectus - but is that realistic?

Consider this. If the Cubs win the wild card, they will play the Braves in the first round. General wisdom is that the Braves have nothing to play for this weekend, since they will have their playoff seed clinched. But who do you think the Braves would rather play in the first round - the Cubs or the Dodgers? I suspect that the Braves wouldn't really want to play the Cubs in the first round, thus giving them an incentive to play to win this weekend.

The experts also cite the Giant's tougher schedule in making things tough for their playoff chances. However, if the Giants don't win the Wild Card, the Dodgers have to play the Cardinals in the first round. While I doubt that the Dodgers would intentionally tank games, what is to stop them from resting their regulars very heavily, thus giving the Giants an edge and helping the Dodgers get an easier first round opponent?

Monte Carlo analysis is great, but it doesn't take resting regulars or playoff seeding advantages into consideration.

3 Comments:

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Socnorb11 said...

Good points, Robb.

Like I said, the Cubs have pretty much failed to take advantage of what was a REALLY easy September schedule. If they manage to lose one or two games to the Reds, they may be in big trouble, becuase you know they'll have their hands full with the Braves................ not to mention, the Cubs don't exactly have a recent history of being a "clutch" team.

I don't care, really. I think the Giants are just as formidable as the Cubs. If the Cards play well, they'll beat any of the playoff teams. If they don't play well, they could lose a series to the Brewers.

 
At 12:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless, of course, the Dodgers give the division to the Giants but claim the WC. Then they meet the Cardinals anyway.

 
At 8:36 AM, Blogger Robb said...

I was writing the article under the assumption that the Dodgers will have clinched the West by the weekend. With a 3 game lead and 5 games remaining, I think that will hold true.

 

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