# 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

Brett

August 25th, 2009
11:25 am

Another similar website, that actually uses how individual players are projected to perform, has the Braves chances at about 32% (11% to win division, 21% to win wildcard). So take these things for what they’re worth.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/ps_oddspec.php

Patrick

August 25th, 2009
11:35 am

Hey a 1 in 4 chance sounds about right to me. If we were tied with anybody, then maybe you could say it was 50-50 or something like that. But hey, call me crazy, but I think the team we need to start chasing is the Los Angeles Dodgers if Colorado keeps winning.

..and Russ Nixon is gonna go with Ed Olwine!

August 25th, 2009
11:57 am

Everyone wants to get rid of Norton but if they did there would be another Norton. He is in the long line of Bobby’s fishin buddies that he refuses to give up on. Jeff Treadway, Bryan Hunter, Wes Helms, Tommy Gregg, Lonnie Smith, Danny Bautista, Gerald Williams, Keith Lockhart, Julio Franco. Brian Jordan. There is always one on every team.

Bravid

August 25th, 2009
2:23 pm

It wasn’t that long ago when the Braves were 7 games below 500. Ever since we got rid of Frenchy and acquired Nate & Church, everyone in baseball has noticed the difference in the Braves. They’ve scored 190 runs since the allstar break, which is first in the NL. They’ve had injuries through out the season, and stayed close. As resent as 2 weeks ago, the Braves were as close as 4.5 games of the Phillies. The Braves don’t have the power that the Phillies possess, but we have contact hitters that hit for average & starting pitching that the Phillies just don’t have. Once Chipper gets his groove back (& he will) & Prado, Nate, Church, Anderson get healthy (& they will) I still see the Braves making it real close with the Phillies. All the Braves have to do is sweep the Phillies, & take 2 of 3 from the Padres & they’ll pick up 3 games on them. By September 1st the braves can be between 4.5 to 3.5 games back in the division. They have to start winning the first game of a series instead of loosing the first game & then to come back & win 2 straight. Sweeps have to be the modow, & there good enough to do it to. There’s just something, I don’t know what it is but it’s like the Braves have some type of destiny that will take them far this year.

Matt

August 25th, 2009
2:52 pm

“Never tell me the odds” – Han Solo

September 25th, 2009
10:56 am

[...] THE ODDS: According to CoolStandings.com, which I blogged about last month , the Braves have a 12.4 percent chance of winning the wild card. The website, which factors in [...]