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Thursday, May 17, 2007

How bad is it? A look at the Reds' Record

Last night, the Reds completed their 40th game of the season, just shy of 25% of the 2007 schedule, with an overall record of 16-24 (0.400). It has not been fun. Nevertheless, there are still 122 games to be played this season, so is it too early to throw in the towel? Let's run some numbers:

Here is what the Reds would need to do over the remaining games to get to the following win totals (playoff chances are pulled from Nate Silver's article in Baseball Between the Numbers, p.192):
  • To get 100 wins (99.5% chance of making playoffs, on average): 84-38 (0.689)
  • To get 95 wins (94% chance of making playoffs): 79-43 (0.647)
  • To get 90 wins (56.5% chance of making playoffs): 74-48 (0.607)
  • To get 85 wins (9.3% chance of making playoffs): 69-53 (0.566)
  • To get 82 wins (0.500 season): 66-56 (0.541)
  • To get 80 wins (last years' total): 64-58 (0.525)
For perspective, here are the Reds' month-by-month winning percentages going back through the '06 season:
  • April 2006: 0.680
  • May 2006: 0.429
  • June 2006: 0.556
  • July 2006: 0.440
  • August 2006: 0.414
  • Sept/Oct 2006: 0.464
  • April 2007: 0.480
If we ignore the dream-like fantasy of April 2006, the next best Reds month in this time span was June 2006, when they went 15-12, for a 0.556 winning percentage. If we take that as a good-case scenario for what the Reds might reasonably do over the entirety of the remaining season, we predict that the Reds could potentially finish with a respectable 16+(0.556*122)=84 wins.

That would be enough for the Reds to have won in 2006. It's not out of the realm of possibility that it would be enough this season (the Brewers would have to go 59-63 [0.484] from this point on to win only 84 games this year), but 84 wins will get you into the playoffs only about 6% of the time, on average.

...

The numbers aren't looking good, but 6% is still more than one time in 20. So I guess I'm not quite ready to give up hope yet. If the Reds go on a big-time tear in the coming weeks and win 8 of 10 or something, they could be back in the mix. Furthermore, a season over 0.500 would be a moral victory, and something the Reds haven't done since 2000. So I think I'll give them a bit more time before I start recommending that they start preparing for 2008. ... But the window of opportunity is disappearing fast.