One Last Look at Remaining Strength of Schedule

On the one hand, I don’t know how much this matters anymore. Each team has just over 40 games remaining, which is basically a quarter of the season, and over a quarter of a season, things go crazy. The numbers get enormous error bars as you expect a ton of variation around calculated averages. On the other hand, these are the highest-leverage games yet, for almost every team still in the race. Little things now look like big things, as the stretch run essentially puts a magnifying glass over otherwise ordinary baseball. So that’s my justification for this latest and last look at rest-of-season-schedule strength.

I looked at this almost exactly a month ago. Since then, things have changed. Players have gotten hurt, players have gotten traded and games on the schedules have been played. Now there’s less of the year left, so this feels like a more significant factor. And with so little year left, schedules can look even less balanced than they are over the full summer. This isn’t to start a conversation about fairness; this is just what is. You’re going to see a big table.

To fill you in: this is the projected standings page. You see team-by-team projections, based on the player projections and the depth charts. This is the playoff odds page. You see team-by-team projections, based on the player projections and the depth charts and also on the schedules. In short, the differences between the two pages function as strength-of-schedule indicators. As an example, on the former, the Oakland A’s are projected to win 55.2% of their remaining games. On the latter, they’re projected to win 56.2% of their remaining games. So if you factor in their remaining schedule, the A’s project a little better, to the tune of half a win.

Here now is that table, showing the difference in projected rest-of-season winning percentages. The next column is that difference multiplied by the number of games left. For the most part, you’re looking at almost meaningless decimals, but in a few cases I think this looks like a legitimate variable.

Team Win% Difference Win Advantage
Tigers 0.020 0.9
Indians 0.018 0.8
Cardinals 0.016 0.7
Angels 0.011 0.5
Athletics 0.010 0.5
Royals 0.009 0.4
Orioles 0.008 0.4
Dodgers 0.008 0.3
Padres 0.006 0.3
Nationals 0.004 0.2
Giants 0.003 0.1
Rockies 0.002 0.1
Rays 0.000 0.0
Blue Jays -0.001 0.0
Astros -0.002 -0.1
Red Sox -0.002 -0.1
Brewers -0.004 -0.2
Reds -0.004 -0.2
Yankees -0.004 -0.2
Twins -0.004 -0.2
Diamondbacks -0.006 -0.3
Mariners -0.006 -0.3
White Sox -0.008 -0.3
Marlins -0.008 -0.4
Rangers -0.009 -0.4
Cubs -0.010 -0.5
Braves -0.011 -0.5
Pirates -0.012 -0.5
Mets -0.016 -0.7
Phillies -0.024 -1.1

The Tigers project to have the softest schedule. In part this is because they don’t have to play themselves, and our projections like the Tigers. That’s a thing to keep in mind as you review this table: You can trust these numbers only so far as you can trust the projections. If you don’t care for the projections, you probably don’t care for this. That’s up to you and I’m pretty happy to trust this information overall. The Phillies project to have the hardest schedule, also in part because they don’t get to play themselves. The Phillies, however, are irrelevant at this point, so you notice some teams right above them.

The Braves project to have a tough schedule. Meanwhile, the Nationals project to have a slightly softer schedule than average, with the difference coming out to seven-tenths of a win. Which is three-tenths of a win short of one full win, but considering the Braves are trying to hang with the Nationals in the National League East, that’s just one more thing Atlanta will have to contend with. Where it gets even more interesting is when you consider the NL Central and the wild card.

The Pirates project for as tough a schedule as the Braves. The Cardinals project for the easiest schedule in the National League, with the difference coming out to 1.2 wins between them. That’s a 1.2-win difference over a quarter of the year, and that would be the sort of hypothetical upgrade you can’t really make in an August waiver deal. The Brewers and Reds also face a fairly significant disadvantage, relative to the Cardinals. While it’s not like anything is being handed to St. Louis, there’s an argument that they have an advantage the rest of the way. You could call it a projected advantage of a handful of runs, and this is one of the reasons the playoff-odds page likes the Cardinals to the extent that it does.

On the American League side, things are a little less dramatic. The Tigers have an advantage over the Royals comparable to the Nationals’ advantage over the Braves. The Royals, in turn, have a projected advantage over the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Mariners, so for them it’s good news and bad news. Or, probably, it’s not news, since they’re unaware of this post, but while the Royals would love to surprise everybody and claim the Central for themselves, I’m sure they’d be more than happy to settle for a one-game playoff. Not, like, if they were given a choice, but such a choice will not be presented. To my knowledge there’s no such thing as a baseball genie.

You make as much of this as you want to. The rest of the way, baseball’s going to be almost unpredictable. That’s part of the fun of it, but the rest of the fun of it is pretending like baseball’s going to be in some way predictable. If the rest of the season pays attention to the numbers, it seems like it’s a good thing for the Cardinals, and others, at the expense of others still. But, you know. Baseball gonna baseball.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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Voxx
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Voxx

What I’m taking from this is that the NL Central is going to be really interesting to watch the last quarter of a season.

Very legitimate chance to end in a 3-way tie!

Hurtlocker
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Hurtlocker

A three way tie where at least one of the teams doesn’t make the playoffs.

Marsupial Jones
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Marsupial Jones

And watch the Royals end up as the team who doesnt make the playoffs.

chuckb
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chuckb

Well, I’m pretty sure they won’t win the NL Central.

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