# Braves’ playoff chances only ‘cool,’ according to website

This would be Bobby Cox's reaction . . .

So if you’re obsessed with this Braves’ stretch drive and you bow at your Brian McCann shrine every morning and you’re wondering if a six-man rotation with Tim Hudson would blow away the rest of the National League and the last thing you want to hear is how two numbers geeks from MIT believe the outlook doesn’t look so good – well then, you may not want to read this. (No wait! Stay! I need the page views!)

There’s a website you may have heard of: coolstandings.com. It actually has been around since 2005. But since I’ve never been a big numbers guy, I guess it has eluded me, until alert reader “Stephen” tipped me off.

In short, coolstandings.com calculates every team’s division, wild card and overall playoff chances based on a half-dozen statistical factors, which I’ll get to in a minute. Bottom

. . . if you asked him what he thinks of coolstandings' view of the Braves

line: According to the site’s co-creator, Sean Walsh (possibly the first MIT grad I’ve ever spoken to, or at least understood), the Braves have only a 10.3 percent chance of winning the National League East, and a 12 percent chance of winning the wild card berth.

Overall, coolstandings.com lists the Braves’ playoff chances at 22.2, behind Los Angeles (94.2), St. Louis (92.4), Philadelphia (90.9) and wild card leading Colorado (63.5). San Francisco is listed as having a better chance than the Braves of winning the wild card (16.4 to 12) but a lower overall playoff chance (20.1 to 22.2) because the Giants are running third in the N.L. West.

Walsh says the site’s formula has an error rate of less than two percent. He would change that if he could because he’s also a big Red Sox fan, and right now the math says they’re dead, too.

Walsh said he and partner Greg Agami adapted the numbers-crunching formulas of baseball writer Bill James (who now works for the Red Sox) and “tweaked” them a bit. “We went back and looked at data for every game played since 1903, running a million simulations, to see if we could project how a team would do,” Walsh said by phone. “Like, in July of 1914: How did it look for the Boston Braves at this point and how did they fare in the end?”

The formula factors in runs for and against, home and road success, remaining strength of schedule, league scoring averages and the previous season’s results (the weight of which decreases as the year goes on). The model doesn’t take into account injuries or trades (although we’re past the trade deadline), but it heavily weighs late-season hot streaks (like the Braves’ current one).

For what it’s worth, Walsh wanted Braves fans to know that they also calculated the top comebacks and collapses in baseball history, and at at the top of the list is the 1914 Boston Braves (later of Atlanta), who only July 4 were given less than a 1 percent chance of winning the pennant but overcame a 15-games deficit.

OK, so I’m guessing I know what you think of all this. Feel free to vent. Meanwhile, here’s how the standings look today, according to the MIT grads. (Key: RS and RA stand for runs scored and runs against. EXPW and EXPL stand for expected win and loss totals. DIV and WC stand are calculated percentages for winning the division or the wild card spot. POFF is overall playoff chances.)

East                   W   L    Pct.    GB    RS   RA   EXPW  EXPL  DIV  WC  POFF

Philadelphia      71  50  .587    —      641  538   95.4   66.6  86.9  4.0   90.9

Atlanta              66  58  .532   6.5      563  503   87.9  74.1  10.3  12.0  22.2

Florida               65  59  .524   7.5     588  588   84.9  77.1  2.8     3.6   6.4

New York           57  67  .460  15.5    526  580   73.7  88.3  <0.1  <0.1  <0.1

Washington       44  80   .355  28.5    565  672   59.7  102.3  0.0  0.0  0.0

Wild card            W    L    Pct.    GB   RS   RA   EXPW  EXPL   DIV   WC  POFF

Colorado (W)       70  54  .565   —     632  549   91.7  70.3  16.7  46.8  63.5

San Fran. (W)       67-57  .540   3       501  464   87.7   74.3   3.7   16.4  20.1

Atlanta (E)           66  58  .532   4       563  503   87.9   74.1  10.3  12.0  22.2

Florida (E)            65  59  .524   5      588  588   84.9   77.1   2.8    3.6   6.4

Chicago (C)          62  60 .508   7       533  514   84.2  77.8   7.0     2.1  9.1

ernisTbass

August 24th, 2009
3:56 pm

Have these guys ever won a pool for the NCAA tournament? Have they had a winning parlay card , or better yet two in one season? Did they have Tiger or the field at the PGA? Show me the money!!!

Bobby Coccyx

August 24th, 2009
3:56 pm

Never.

Just Pat

August 24th, 2009
3:56 pm

Glad I’m just a fan and NOT a statistical geek.

DIAMOND DAWG

August 24th, 2009
3:57 pm

I SAY THE HECK WITH ALL THE NUMBERS. TIME FOR CHIPPER, MCCANN, ESCOBAR, ETC… TO GET GOING AND EARN THEIR MONEY AND PUT THIS TEAM IN THE PLAYOFFS. TIRED OF SEEING THE BRAVES AND THEIR STARS UNDERACHIEVE DOWN THE STRETCH. GET HOT AND LETS WIN 7-8 IN A ROW. PLAY THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY AND EXECUTE AND GET IT DONE

Joe

August 24th, 2009
3:59 pm

Are you an indiot Blackberry Cobbler? Vazquez has pitched his contract’s worth and more all year. One bad game in the last couple of months and you make a statment like that? You don’t know much do you?

Dan

August 24th, 2009
4:00 pm

BRIAN @2:56– But even if the Braves win their division a bit more often than SF, that would mean that the Phillies are suddenly in the wild card race. Doesn’t seem like the Braves improbably winning the division would make much difference, because the Phillies would be right there…

Anyway, we’ll all find out how this turns out, won’t we? I wonder what the discussion will be like in here in about 2 weeks.

CJG

August 24th, 2009
4:07 pm

One of the main things that apparently aren’t considered is the imporatnce of games at the end of the schedule. For instance, Colorado, how we currently need to pass for the WC plays 3 againist the Dodgers to finish the season. Since those games may probably need to be won by the Dodgers to secure their standings, the Dodges will play to win those games. Other teams may have games againist opponents who don’t neccesarily want to lose, but have bigger agendas such as seeing other players lower in the organization and have less motivation to win. seven of our last 10 are played againist Washington, whose sole motivation to win may just be finish above the Mets. May not matter at season’s end, but if the standings stay roughly the same, can become a factor.

Russell

August 24th, 2009
4:08 pm

One or two wins could very easily end up determining whether or not the Braves make the playoffs. With that fact known pretty much since the start of the season, why would the Braves not called up Hanson earlier instead of trying to get by with a patch-work 5th starter of JoJo Reyes and or Kris Medlen? Why call up Medlen instead of Hanson? I understand it was about the money, but imagine if Hanson would have been in the rotation since the start of the season! This team could easily have 4-5 more victories.

Wren didn’t want to give Glavine the opportunity to pitch in the bigs this year because “every win counts”, but he could afford to keep the hottest pitching prospect we have seen in years stuck in the minors!

Just Pat

August 24th, 2009
4:08 pm

ernisTbass
GOOD points indeed……

scottbravesfan

August 24th, 2009
4:11 pm

This MIT guy is forgetting one thing. The Dodgers have OWNED the Rockies this year. The Rockies are not that good of a team I don’t see how the hell they keep winning so much. If they get in the playoffs they will get beat in the first round by the Cardinals. If the Braves get into the playoffs they will play the Dodgers and they have a very good chance of beating the Dodgers in a five game series.

Najeh Davenpoop

August 24th, 2009
4:12 pm

Nice to see that people are still at it hijacking my screen name…

Sonny Clusters

August 24th, 2009
4:12 pm

Jeff, if the Braves make the playoffs will you take us all to the Dairy Queen? We was thinking that would be nice.

jfreak13713

August 24th, 2009
4:13 pm

One thing the MIT boys didn’t factor is INJURIES! Imagine for a moment if one of the big two in Giants rotation go down? Or if the the one of the big hitters for Colorado go down? Or if one or two of our guys go down for an extended period of time?? Numbers are numbers and they do offer a glimps into the possibilty but they for sure don’t know the future. Last time I checked only God could do that and last I heard he’s a Braves fan!!!!! Go Braves!

jmart1951

August 24th, 2009
4:13 pm

Could you contact the MIT guru again and ask him to do the calculations on the chances that Bobby Cox will not make lineup and ingame decisions that cost us games the rest of this season?

sidslid

August 24th, 2009
4:17 pm

I wonder if their numbers have been off target the last few years due to the salary balancing going on at the trade date. The Braves are a totally different team with LaRoche in the line up. More vulnerable to left handed pitching (oh no, here comes Sterling Hitchcock), but ‘Roachy” has added a 40 HR power bat based on his second half numbers over the years.

Just Pat

August 24th, 2009
4:21 pm

jfreak13713

Jurrjens4NLCY

August 24th, 2009
4:23 pm

“according to website” sounds like the most unprofessional headline in AJC history.

World is going to end in 2010 according to website
Tupac is still alive according to website.
The government made up aids to thin the population of black people according to website.

Seriously, who cares what a site says…

midnite

August 24th, 2009
4:27 pm

So do we throw in the towel and back away from our tomahawks? Do we even need to play the final 38 games? Those MIT geeks need to go play with their pocket protecters and let us enjoy the Braves at least having a chance at the postseason. Glass half full here.

Nova Scotia Steve

August 24th, 2009
4:27 pm

Well I just noticed a massive S*it cloud hovering over my off-day Atlanta Braves day parade.

- Thanks Jeff

(LOL)

Nova Scotia Steve

August 24th, 2009
4:29 pm

I also hear Mother Theresa used to watch the Braves on TBS…

126 Games a year Dear David DeJesus…

Mitch C

August 24th, 2009
4:32 pm

I dont care what some MIT website says. More important is the pace of this team, and whether or not we can do just a little better.

We have already played eight games over 500 to this point at 66-58, so, there’s no reason we cant do that the rest of the season. If we play eight games over for the remaining 38 games, that means we would go 23-15, and finish at 89 wins. I dont think 89 will do it, even though it has in previous seasons. Jeff, Mitch, and Simpson and Shambi on Sportssouth seem in agreement that 91 is the number we need. That would be 25-13. A good pace, and nearly 667 ball, but not out of the realm.

Personally, I’m going to split the difference between our current pace, and the 91, and say 90 wins gets the wild card, with the thought that the Rockies slow down some. I’m not saying we “will” do that, or that we “will” win the wild card, but I am saying we “Can” win it.

Mitch

the real Old Gold

August 24th, 2009
4:32 pm

What % chance did the Braves have to win 14 straight division titles? I’d think it was less than 3%.

Roja

August 24th, 2009
4:32 pm

Given that we did the impossible in 1914 and again in 1993, nothing is beyond the capability of our Braves! Like my daddy used to say figures don’t lie but liars can figure.

bobbymahlon

August 24th, 2009
4:35 pm

If Kelly Johnson continues to play second base like he did yesterday we will never make the playoffs. I’m talking about how he dropped the double play ball that resulted in four runs for florida. Hurry back Marteen we need you.

Russell

August 24th, 2009
4:41 pm

I think everyone agrees 91+ wins will be what it will take to make the playoffs. The Braves will probably finish with 89ish. Imagine what the record would be if they had Hanson in the rotation since the start of the season? An extra 3,4,5 wins? That would put us in the playoffs! I wonder how many of the games that JoJo Reyes & Kris Medlen started that the Braves won?

NO MORE BOBBY

August 24th, 2009
4:41 pm

Your Bobby Cox picture reminds me of that famous Bigfoot picture. Ha!

http://bloggingexperiments.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/patterson_bigfoot.jpg

Gallup

August 24th, 2009
4:51 pm

Is the 2% error on the win percentage? In that case with the Braves expected win pct. at 54.2% and the Rockies at 56.2%, the prediction is well within the margin of error. I’m not impressed. Go Jackets, obviously.

Herschel Talker

August 24th, 2009
4:59 pm

Schultzie:

In the Braves recent “hot” streak, how many games have they picked up? How is it again that people think they’re going to gain a game a week on Colorado considering how many more games they have with the Marlins and Phils? Clearly it’s not impossible, but the numbers are what they are, and it is a much bigger uphill battle than people are admitting.

David

August 24th, 2009
5:07 pm

Stats are good tools, but anything can and will happen. What were the Rockies chances of making the playoffs in ‘07 before they ripped off 20+ straight wins. And those Oakland teams earlier in the decade that put up 20+ win Septembers consistently. All it takes is a few good win streaks and things can change drastically. And don’t forget, the Braves play the Nats for 7 of the last 10 games. The Rocks have Cards/Brew/Dodgers to finish up. I’m more worried about the Giants with their cupcake September schedule.

KEITH MOON LIVES

August 24th, 2009
5:12 pm

Does This report indicate whether these guys have ever had a girlfriend, and do the still live in their parents basement ?

Outside Robber

August 24th, 2009
5:13 pm

Seems right in terms of the chances/odds. The Braves are a longshot, especially with their current leadership. Out.

mudcat

August 24th, 2009
5:25 pm

Keep in mind that in September the Rockies have 18 home games(where they play extremely well) and only 9 games on the road. The schedule favors the Rockies for the wild card. A 6-man rotation is an excellent idea. If we did make the playoffs, our rotation would be much stronger than the rotation of other teams we’d be facing.

Doc Holiday

August 24th, 2009
5:40 pm

One thing to take into account…………..once other teams start to fade….braves % chances of winning the WC increase………..so look for that gap to start closing by the weekend.

Dobearsbare

August 24th, 2009
5:48 pm

I sincerely hope they didn’t get any goverment grants or anything for this work; I didn’t need a huge statistical analysis to know the chances are slim.

tralfaz

August 24th, 2009
5:49 pm

The numbers add up, my own “projection” was about a 16-18% (but I’m a fan). Fact is, there were too dang many games pissed away early on, and they DO count. And now the Delicate Flower Chipper isn’t “Chipping” in, and it will pretty much take a miracle.

August 24th, 2009
5:50 pm

I’m calling sheenanigans on their “2% chance of error”…let’s back it up…I want to see their predictions AT THIS TIME OF YEAR since 2005 and see how “right” they were…considering the Mets collapse just last season ( and I’m sure they did NOT see that coming) they are way over 2% wrong. Just simple math there.

Me

August 24th, 2009
5:55 pm

Jeff, you mentioned a six-man rotation. Here’s another take on what could happen with that.http://bleacherreport.com/articles/241984-derek-lowe-to-the-bullpen-could-be-the-braves-best-move?just_published=1

Charlie

August 24th, 2009
5:57 pm

So, they predicted the 1914 Braves 95 years later. Hmm, so the greatest collapses and combacks been “predicted” after the fact. Wonder if they know Bernie Madoff.

Mitchell

August 24th, 2009
6:02 pm

It’s not going to be easy.

How’s that for an analysis?

Mitchell

August 24th, 2009
6:14 pm

bobbymahlon

August 24th, 2009
4:35 pm
If Kelly Johnson continues to play second base like he did yesterday we will never make the playoffs. I’m talking about how he dropped the double play ball that resulted in four runs for florida. Hurry back Marteen we need you.

There are plenty of reasons for optimism going into the last month or so of the season but it’s hard not to be cynical. Why Bobby Cox still let’s Greg Norton swing a bat for this club is beyond comprehension. It’s August 21st. He’s been at it long enough. This is an absolute joke.

As long as Bobby finds ways of defending Norton and Kelly in the face of his horses*** defense, the odds are against us.

I guess given the choice Bobby feels he’s better off with a veteran bat on the bench. Here’s my question though, since when has Brooks Conrad’s 29 years not been considered close to a veteran? He’s a grown ass man. He’s barely younger than I am but he’s still old. I’m in my fourth decade, I’m thinking about life man, how many years do I have on this earth?

Me and Brooks are plenty old for a couple of young dudes. What is the f***ing deal?

I’m laying it out there folks. Greg Norton is not giving us anything of value. It’s one thing to have experience but at this point in his life that’s about all he has.

Cause he’s old! And he can’t hit!

I’m pissed now. It’s not going to be easy.

August 24th, 2009
6:17 pm

Herschel — on June 28, Braves were 5 out of division and 5 1/2 out of WC (though in 10th place).

August 24th, 2009
6:18 pm

Me — Don’t think a Lowe to BP will happen. Still not sure Hudson to rotation will happen. But if he does come back, I’m guessing it’ll be Kawakami.

DamYankee

August 24th, 2009
6:18 pm

Sonny, our Coach called ‘em “Love Handles”, but when we asked why he wouldn’t tell us. I don’t think baseball players are supposed to have love handles.

chemdawg

August 24th, 2009
6:20 pm

…They cited a 1% chance of the 1914 Braves winning the pennant as an example of an outlier not as a correctly predicted outcome. For those who are confused: they are talking percentages not absolutes and there will always be outliers in statistical models. The 2008 mets were an example of such. Since there are 162 games in a season there is typically a good enough sample size to predict performance based on past performance. However, there will be a normal (remember bell curves from high school math) distribution around the predicted value, so you can’t say anything in absolute terms. If you simulate the outcomes enough times you can get a good feel for how many times team A’s wins lies on the bell curve above team B’s.

P.S.
Schultz, you can blow me off, but I’ve mentioned baseballprospectus.com numerous times over the last few months on these blogs when people (including yourself) were claiming that the braves had a better shot at the wildcard than the division.

Snaggle tooth

August 24th, 2009
6:26 pm

chipper jones needs to start contrebuting if the braves are to have any chance to win the wildcard.

August 24th, 2009
6:27 pm

Chemdawg — I’m confused. 1) I don’t know who you are, so I can’t possibly blow you off; 2) I’ve always felt they had a better shot to win the WC than the division and I still think that, because Philadelphia is too good (my opinion). If the Braves win the East, I will gladly admit I was wrong

i cant take it anymore

August 24th, 2009
6:45 pm

Jeff

don’t let the MIT slang and prestige fool you. Its really hard to design statistical measures that have to account for so many different variables. What about rain delays? chino having heartburn after a cuban sandwich? Yunel getting a new haircut?

Herschel Talker

August 24th, 2009
6:48 pm

Jeff R

August 24th, 2009
7:06 pm

Jeff, I’m not a numbers guy, either. Too many X Factors in the game to go strictly by the numbers.

HAL

August 24th, 2009
7:14 pm

cook going on the dl for rockies leaves them with zero real major league caliber starters a cpl flame thowing youngsters in usbaldo and the left hander whos name escapes me but no real seasoned starters maybe this will be the year of there met like collapse ,one can hope