Last year around this time, I was often half joking about the Chicago Cubs’ playoff odds. There was never an expectation that the 2014 Cubs, as of Spring Training, were going to contend for a playoff spot.
But the thing about baseball is that, even though the season is super long, it is not necessarily long enough for there not to be statistical flukes that shove a surprise team into playoff contention. So, when the Cubs were popping up with 4 or 5 or 6% playoff odds, it was fun to talk about “there’s a chance!” And that’s really all it was. Just some fun.
This year isn’t last year.
FanGraphs just released its first Playoff Odds report, and the Chicago Cubs come in at a 41.4% chance to make the playoffs in 2015, based on current projections.
Given that most projections have the Cubs as an 83 or 84-win team, that’s pretty much exactly where you’d expect to see the Cubs – a good bit less than 50/50 for a playoff spot, but a real, solid, meaningful shot.
The Cubs’ percentage is the 11th highest in baseball, and 5th highest in the NL. Interestingly, the NL is really top-heavy, with the Nationals and Dodgers overwhelmingly expected to win their respective divisions (and, if not, take a Wild Card spot). The NL Central, however, is a little more split up, with the Cardinals given a 67.9% playoff shot (and a 45.7% chance to win the Central), and the Pirates given a 48.7% playoff shot (25.5% to win the division).
The Cubs pick up most of the remainder in the Central, with a 19.3% chance to win the division. FanGraphs strongly dislikes the Brewers’ and Reds’ chances this year.