The beauty of a sizeable lead

Posted by Steve

Reading through the game thread at Brewerfan yesterday, you’d have thought the Brewers blew their entire wildcard lead in one game. Sure, the game was bad, but it was one game. Sure, the series was bad… But you know what? They lost just one game off their wildcard lead. They still have a 4 ½ game lead with 23 games remaining, and PECOTA has their playoff odds at 92.5%. A funny thing happened yesterday: on the same day they got worked over by the Mets, the Brewers’ chances to reach the playoffs increased. Both the Cardinals and Phillies lost, and their lead stayed at the same 4 ½ that it was entering play.

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It’s comforting to know that no matter what the Brewers do, as long as the second-place wildcard team loses, the Crew’s playoff chances go up. Same for the Crew winning. The only thing that can really hurt them at this point is losing on the same day the second-place team wins.

QUESTION! QUESTION!

I wrote the previous paragraph before checking the odds from yesterday morning, and the Brewers’ odds actually dropped about eight-tenths of a point after yesterday’s games. That apparently means I’m wrong in saying that the Brewers’ odds should go up any time the second-place team loses? Except I don’t see how that’s possible… Their magic number dropped with the Phillies losing, so why would their playoff odds go down? If someone more mathematically inclined than myself commented on this, I’d appreciate it.

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There were also a handful of comments yesterday along the lines of, “Even if the Brewers don’t blow it, they’ll just get crushed by the Mets in the first round anyway.” To that I say, “Ahem.” Sure, the Brewers are 2-4 against the Mets this year. So what? First of all, six flippin’ games shouldn’t be an indicator of anything. Secondly, CC Sabathia pitched in exactly zero of those six games. Something tells me the Mets would have a tougher time in a series of Sabathia-Sheets-Anyone-Sabathia-Sheets than they did in the regular season games, especially when many of them will be facing CC for the first time.

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Despite that fairly comfy 4 ½ game lead, I don’t want to make it sound like I’m saying the Brewers are a lock for the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong; they’re a big-time favorite, and it would take a colossal choke-job that would leave me bedridden for weeks in order for them to miss the playoffs, but it’s not a lock. If they lose, say, the first two games of the San Diego series, I’ll officially be a nervous wreck. Then again, I’m not too worried about that because the Padres suck and CC throws tomorrow.

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Boy, Albert Pujols sure knew what he was talking about when he said Carlos Villanueva “woke a sleeping giant.” Carlos really blew it there. In fact, since Carlos woke the sleeping giant, said giant has one win and five losses. Think of the biggest, happiest, funniest and most obnoxious emoticon you can imagine, and picture it placed in this location. ___

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Meanwhile, while you were sleeping, the Houston Astros have gone on a meaningless-yet-impressive tear. They swept the Cubs in Wrigley and are one game behind the Cardinals! Disgustingly, the Stros would have a 2 ½ game lead in the NL West, but in the Central they don’t have a chance. It should be enough to keep Cecil Cooper’s job, though. Considering some of his crazy moves against the Brewers this year, that’s not a bad thing.

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2 responses to “The beauty of a sizeable lead

  1. Yeah, you’d think that the top three wildcard teams losing would leave the brewers with roughly the same playoff odds, if not more…

    But here are my guesses as to why they went down:

    1 – However miniscule the WC odds were for Houston and Florida, they both won last night, which obviously increases their infantismal odds of wining the wild card, stealing the difference from the Brewers, Phillies, and Cards.

    2 – At the same time, any increase the Brewers would have gained on the Phils and Cards by reducing their magic number was probably offset by the Crew losing, effectively reducing both the Cubs’ magic number and the Brewers’ odds of winning the NL Central.

  2. I had thought of the Astros/Marlins factor, but I don’t see why that would override the Phils/Cards losing. Good point on the Cubs though; the Brewers’ chances of winning the division went down so that obviously hurt their overall playoff odds. Bah, whatever. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme, but I was just curious. Thanks for the explanation.

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