Sunday’s dramatic win did a lot of things for the Colorado Rockies. It kept them in first place in the intensely competitive National League West (the league’s top three records all currently reside in that division), it gave them their best 72-game start in club history by a whopping six games, and it provided a signature moment that we’ll all be looking back on if and when the Rockies make some postseason noise in 2017. If you extrapolate their current home and road win percentages out to 81 games each, it comes to a final record of 103-59. This, obviously, would be the best record in franchise history.
In addition to that, the winning also gives the Rockies some pretty strong postseason odds. Let’s take a look at those odds, entering Monday's games, moving from most pessimistic to most optimistic in terms of their actual chances of making the playoffs.
FanGraphs is the most pessimistic about the Rockies moving forward, giving them only an 88.4 percent chance of reaching the postseason and projecting a final record of 91-71. Those numbers alone aren’t particularly discouraging, but what is potentially disheartening is their projection that the Rockies still have only a 10.2 percent chance at winning the division and avoiding the wild card game. Nevertheless, this is quite a fun playoff odds graph:
Five Thirty Eight is only slightly more optimistic about the Rockies’ overall playoff odds at 89 percent. However, they’re actually the most optimistic about their chance to win the division at 22 percent and also project the best overall record at 95-67. This, of course, is good news. If the Rockies are able to avoid the wild card game, which essentially amounts to a coin flip, it will significantly improve their chances of making a deep playoff run.
The most optimistic in terms of playoff odds is Baseball Prospectus, where the Rockies come in with a whopping 92.9 percent chance to make the playoffs. In terms of their projected record and chance to win the division, they’re in the middle of the pack. They think the Rockies will finish 92-70 and have a 14.5 percent chance to win the division. This is another fun playoff odds graph:
It isn’t only the playoff odds from projection systems that provide reason for optimism. We can also look at similar teams from the past to see how they finished. These are the last 20 teams to have a 72-game start within a game of what the Rockies have done so far, along with how their respective seasons ended:
Those are some pretty good teams. All 20 teams won 87 or more games, they combined to average 96 wins, 18 out of 20 won at least 93 games (which would set a Rockies’ franchise record), and 17 out of 20 reached the postseason. Under today’s postseason rules, the 2006 White Sox would’ve reached the playoffs as the second wild card, while the Red Sox and Mariners in 2002 would have tied for that spot.
This bodes extremely well for the Rockies’ playoff chances. Even if they match last year’s Giants with only 87 wins, that will likely be more than enough for a wild card spot. Aside from the Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks, Baseball Prospectus projects the next closest wild card contender to be the Brewers at 82.6 wins.
We still have a long way to go this season, and at the end of the year, nobody will remember that the Rockies were the first National League team to win 46 games. There’s still a lot of work to do. That being said, there’s a strong possibility that 2017 is the return of Rocktober that Rockies fans have been waiting for.