This winter, we evaluated the Diamondbacks and thought it would be a tough season. More specifically, we concluded that the team could be competitive but that they needed pretty much everything to break right for them in order to be a playoff contender. Then came some trades that were perhaps underwhelming from a value standpoint, if not from a production standpoint. Add the Patrick Corbin news, some unforeseen drops in performance over the first month and, well, here we are, one month into the season and firmly in the cellar.

But should you give up hope on this squad? While I’d technically say no, whatever glimmers of hope remain are slipping away pretty quickly. The odds of this team reaching the playoffs aren’t completely gone, but they’ve diminished by a magnitude that can make one want to throw in the towel before May.

One month into the season, the team has played 30 games and has an 8-22 record to show for it (through Tuesday). That’s a winning percentage of .267. Note the fact that since 2004, only 13 teams have gotten off to a winning percentage of .300 or worse over their first 30 games. None of them have made the playoffs. In that same time, only 8 of those teams have gotten off to a sub-.300 winning percentage (like Arizona is sporting right now) so the Diamondbacks are in some pretty unique company, albeit in the worst way imaginable. The level of ineptitude here is staggering when given the last ten years of baseball for context. It’s not news that anyone wants to hear, but it’s the news we’re left with.

Over at Beyond the Box Score on Monday, my colleague Scott Lindholm broke down a similar trend, showing how early season win totals affect playoff odds. It’s a terrific read that I’d strongly recommend and applies to teams across baseball. Scott was kind enough to lend us his data so we could apply it to the Diamondbacks. Be warned: the results aren’t pretty. Of teams with a sub-.400 winning percentage over their first 30 games, only 4.3% of them have gone on to make a playoff appearance since 1995. The D’backs clearly fall into this category. Yes, it’s only 30 games and no this doesn’t mean that there is zero chance of a playoff run, but the picture looks bleaker every day.

What if we expand the scope and look 40 games out? What about 60? What happens to the playoff odds if we stick with this squad at their current performance level? Take a look and see:

Playoff Odds

At 40 games with a sub-.400 winning percentage, the odds are almost non-existent and after 60 games, they’re gone entirely. This tells us that a turnaround has to happen in the next month or else we can officially resign the season, that is unless the team is about to re-write history. Baseball is weird and strange things happen, but over the last 18 MLB seasons, there’s no precedent for a team making the playoffs after having a sub-.400 winning percentage 60 games into the season.

How big of a turnaround would we need to see? The team would need to win at least 16 of it’s next 30 games just to reach .400. That’s not a crazy streak by any means, but that’s just to enter into the “so you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance” realm. A month of .533 ball would sure feel good right about now and it is feasible. Anything less and we can historically rule out a playoff run. Maybe optimizing the team’s lineup can help get them to .400, but even if they do, they’ve still got an incredibly long ways to go. As the old adage goes, you can’t win a pennant in April, but you sure as hell can lose one.

What happens if they don’t get to .400 after 60 games? I’d say kick off the fire sale with leadership changes, but who knows? Guys like Aaron Hill, Mark Trumbo, Cody Ross, Martin Prado, Gerardo Parra, Eric Chavez, JJ Putz, Addison Reed and others might all become shoppable assets. It’s perhaps best to re-assess after the next 30 games, but moves in some capacity appear inevitable, even if the team has already exchanged valuable assets to acquire several of the players above. Pride can be a tough pill to swallow and the D’backs will have to do a lot of that if they want to move forward.

This season has gone anything but to plan, but here we are, praying for a winning month of baseball. If it doesn’t come, expect the inevitable and start planning for 2015.

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9 Responses to D’backs Playoff Odds After 30 Games

  1. Bradford says:

    Alright, as long as we’re playing with hypothetical scenarios here…
    Let’s say that the Diamondbacks don’t pull out of this horrendous nose dive and are all but mathematically out by the All-Star break. Fire sales are just as much fun to think about right now as winning because in both scenarios we get to fantasize about a better team.
    If you’re going to completely rebuild, who do you keep outside of Goldschmidt? The Dbacks farm system is relatively barren of close, impact talent. If you were to rebuild starting this year, how would you do it? This may require its own article but its always fun to speculate.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      You’re right, this is it’s own series of articles. With that said, everyone’s available except Goldy and Archie Bradley. That doesn’t mean you’re trying to sell everyone, but that you’d at least entertain offers. I’d even listen on Corbin considering the injury, but my preference would clearly be to keep him.

      • Bradford says:

        Would you consider trying to keep Miley as well? I know he has not had the greatest start, but he’s kind of got a track record of having one or two bad months and then being ace-like the rest of the year. He’s a great mid-rotation arm and still young/cheap.
        On another note, what do you do with Montero? He’s not really young enough to build around but what else do we have for catching? We’d have to trade for a good catching prospect before moving him.

        • Jeff Wiser says:

          Consider it? Sure? It’s more about determining what someone will give you for each piece if you’re rebuilding. It’s not about what you have in the minors, on the bench, etc. A real rebuild just requires that you give off assets that you don’t need (because they’re old, expensive, or not timely based on your win curve) for one’s you do need (younger, cheaper, more timely based on your win curve).

          We’ll do all of this it’s fair justice in due time. I can see Ryan and I having a go at this despite the fact that we’d rather be writing about winning.

  2. […] for how many teams have actually had those winning percentages — as Jeff explained last week, very few teams in the last ten years have been sub-.300 after 30 games — but there’s still a lot of helpful information throughout the […]

  3. […] still early” is doing everyone a disservice. It’s not still early, we’re approaching some pretty serious cutoffs where the pretenders are separated from the contenders. I think we have a good idea of where this […]

  4. […] still early” is doing everyone a disservice. It’s not still early, we’re approaching some pretty serious cutoffs where the pretenders are separated from the contenders. I think we have a good idea of where this […]

  5. […] is probably a good time to bring up something Jeff wrote a month ago, with research to back him up: “At 40 games with a sub-.400 winning percentage, the [playoff] […]

  6. […] the franchise went from a postseason appearance as division champs and a 8-22 record in April and virtually no shot at the playoffs in 2014. Even in sports, that’s not an exceptionally long […]

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