The first three series of the year went great for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They went 2-1 each time, finishing with a 6-3 record and looking like they could be on their way to contending once again. Then they were swept by the Brewers, and since that 6-3 start, they have gone 4-13. In the process, they’ve fallen from one of the top seven teams in the playoff odds, to a team that is unanimously projected to finish the season with 77-78 wins.
Each week we will break down the playoff odds and projections from the top three projection sites: Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs and ClayDavenport.com. As the season goes on, this will allow us to track the Pirates’ chances of getting back to the playoffs. It has been two weeks since our last look at the playoff odds, so let’s see where the Pirates stand after this poor stretch.
Baseball Prospectus: 77.1 wins, 84.9 losses, 9.1% chance to make playoffs
The Baseball Prospectus odds were at 18.3% two weeks ago after being swept by the Brewers. Since that point, the Pirates’ chances have dropped to below 10%, and they are projected for only 77 wins. Of the three odds, BP gives the Pirates the lowest chance of making the playoffs.
FanGraphs: 77.8 wins, 84.2 losses, 13.6% chance to make playoffs
FanGraphs has been the highest on the Pirates so far this year, although their chances of making the playoffs are a third of what they were two weeks ago. The Pirates have dropped below our 15% “contender” threshold, and are projected to win 79 games in these projections.
Clay Davenport: 77.2 wins, 83.8 losses, 15.7% chance to make playoffs
The projections from Clay Davenport are the most optimistic for the Pirates at this point. However, that is based solely on the chances of making the playoffs. The record here is the same as the other two, with the Pirates projected for something around a 77-84 record this season.
Here are the rankings of the NL contenders. To get “contender” status, a team must have a 15% or better to make the playoffs in all three projection systems.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers – 71.9% average odds, 88-74 record
2. Washington Nationals – 71.7% average odds, 89-73 record
3. Atlanta Braves – 70.8% average odds, 88-74 record
4. St. Louis Cardinals – 67.0% average odds, 88-74 record
5. Milwaukee Brewers – 59.3% average odds, 86-76 record
6. San Francisco Giants – 53.8% average odds, 85-77 record
7. Colorado Rockies – 24.9% average odds, 80-82 record
The Pirates have dropped off the contenders list in the last two weeks. It’s still early in the season, but they need to start making up ground. The current projections have 86 wins being needed to make the playoffs. That means the Pirates need to go 76-60 from here on out, which is a .559 winning percentage. To put that in perspective, only four teams in the NL have a better winning percentage this early in the season. The Pirates can still turn things around and have a shot at the playoffs, but they will need to reverse their current losing.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.