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Colorado Rockies playoff odds benefit from everyone else’s struggles

After 120 games, the Rockies are in a great spot

The Rockies won last night. This is good news, as every win brings them closer to their goal of making the playoffs. What's also good news is that their primary rivals for one of those two available playoff spots, the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals, also lost. As a result, entering play today, the Rockies have a one-game lead on the first Wild Card spot, and a five-game lead on the next closest contender, the Brewers, who did manage to win yesterday.

Scoreboard watching in August: it's a feeling even lifelong Rockies fans have seldom enjoyed. Living through the daily ups and downs can be quite stressful, especially when your team goes through a 1-5 stretch like the Rockies did last week. It's sometimes difficult to keep an eye on the big picture, even if you're constantly staring at a big scoreboard. That's why, along with scoreboard watching, I like to keep an eye on the latest playoffs odds reports. Here's the latest from Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, and Five Thirty-Eight.

National League Playoff Odds

Team Record GB Run Differential BP Playoff Odds FanGraphs Odds Five Thirty-Eight Odds
Team Record GB Run Differential BP Playoff Odds FanGraphs Odds Five Thirty-Eight Odds
Dodgers 85-34 -- +214 100.0% 100.0% >99%
Nationals 71-47 13.5 +124 100.0% 100.0% >99%
Rockies 67-53 18.5 +59 85.1% 82.0% 80%
Diamondbacks 66-54 19.5 +101 88.8% 84.0% 75%
Brewers 63-59 23.5 +17 13.7% 10.7% 16%
Cubs 63-56 22 +52 75.9% 88.5% 80%
Cardinals 61-59 24.5 +48 30.9% 28.5% 36%
As of August 17, 2017

We've been tracking playoff odds for most of the season. For the Rockies, their odds peaked above 90 percent on June 20, after a dramatic win against the rival Diamondbacks. Of course, they then lost 10 of their next 11 and their odds dipped all the way down to 50 percent on FanGraphs. Since then, the Rox have managed to climb back above 80 percent after taking two of the last three against the Braves.

What’s really helped the Rockies is none of the other playoff contenders have really done anything to make up ground, or put serious distance between themselves and Colorado. The Diamondbacks are 16-26 in their last 42 games, tied for the second-worst mark in baseball in that time. The Cardinals and Cubs have played well over that time, but both started out so far behind that they’ve only barely made up ground.

With the Dodgers and Nationals having essentially locked up the top two spots in the league, the NL Central and Wild Card races seem to be the only ones worth paying attention to. If you look at the standings, there’s reason to fear one or more of the NL Central teams snatching a playoff spot from the Rockies and/or D-backs. But if you believe the playoff odds, it’s a veritable lock that one Wild Card team will come from the NL West, and an overwhelming likelihood that two will.

What might stop this? The Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers each play the others 14 more times this season; that’s a lot of good teams playing each other. There’s always the chance that the Rockies or Diamondbacks could use those games to create a cushion—or that it could sink one of them out of the playoff chase altogether. Of course, the Dodgers could very well have 100 wins by the time those games come along so what would they really have to play for (only slight sarcasm there)?

For now, though, the Rockies are in as good of a position as they have been all season. Enjoy watching the scoreboard and standings, but if those stress you out too much, come back to the playoff odds for a little comfort.