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Phillies 2012 Post-Season Chances: It's All About the Next 9 Games

The Phillies are 5 games behind with 21 games to go. All of the reasonable statistical analyses show that the chances of the Phillies making it to the Wild Card (even as a tie for the second slot) are between slim and virtually none. And I'm not here to quibble with those statistical analyses for what they are.

What I am here to quibble with though is their focus. If we change the focus of what those assessments of the Phillies playoffs hopes entail, I think we might have a different picture before us.

First, any assessment of playoff hopes at this point is going to look at all of the remaining games. As our resident statistical guru highlights in each stats notes column, the Phillies have to have an insane 21-game record to force the Cardinals, Pirates, and Dodgers to then have horrible 21-game records. Looking at what needs to happen over 21 games does not inspire hope.

But what if we change the focus from 21 games to the next 9 games (the remainder of this series and the next two series)? A 7-2 run for the Phillies with a corresponding 3-6 run from the other teams (or worse) seems a lot more possible than the records needed over 21 games. Of course, those are still difficult numbers to attain, but they seem more reasonable.

Second, any in-depth assessment of playoff hopes will take a look at opponent winning percentage to gauge how difficult the remaining schedule is for each team. However, what if instead of looking at overall opponent winning percentage, we look at opponent second-half winning percentage. After all, though far from perfect, a team's second-half winning percentage is a better gauge of how the team is playing right now than its overall winning percentage.

With these two modifications, I think it's more than reasonable to conclude that the Phillies have a better chance at making a run at the Wild Card spot than other assessments indicate.

The chart below shows the schedule over the next nine games for each of the three teams ahead of the Phillies along with the Phillies. Next to each opponent is the number of games played and the opponent's second half winning percentage.

Phillies Cardinals
Team Games SH Win % Team Games SH Win %
Marlins 2 0.386 Padres 2 0.600
Astros 4 0.200 Dodgers 4 0.500
Mets 3 0.345 Astros 3 0.200
Average: 0.290 Average: 0.422
Dodgers Pirates
Team Games SH Win % Team Games SH Win %
Dbacks 2 0.482 Reds 2 0.667
Cardinals 4 0.527 Cubs 4 0.393
Nationals 3 0.655 Marlins 3 0.386
Average: 0.560 Average: 0.452