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Comparing 2012 Phils to 2011 Cards

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Phillies are, somehow, some way, just five games back of the second National League wild card berth. The dream will not die.

    But is it realistic to expect them to, you know, actually win? CoolStandings.com gives them a 1.5 percent chance of making the playoffs. But we've seen miracles before and, in fact, saw a pair of miracles in 2011 when both the Rays and eventual champion Cardinals stormed back to make the playoffs on the final day of the season, despite not even having a second wild card.

    How do the Phillies chances compare? Well, let's go back in time and take a look at the standings from September 2011, shall we? For the purpose of this exercise, we're going back further than one year: the season only ran to Sept. 28 in 2011 and this year it goes to Oct. 4.

    The Phillies have currently played 141 games. The Cardinals, their ironic wild card pursuee, have also played 141. So after hitting the Huey Lewis button and heading back in time to Sept. 6, 2011, we get a good idea of just how realistic the chances are.

    At that point in time, the Braves, who led the Wild Card, were 82-59 and had a 97.2 percent chance of making the playoffs according to the CoolStandings.com way-back machine. The Cardinals, at 75-67, were 6.5 games back of the Braves and had a 2.2 percent chance of making the playoffs.

    By percentage comparison, the Phillies aren't in as great of shape. They have a 1.5 percent chance of making the dance, per CoolStandings. But that's as much about the second wild card as it is anything else. The Braves, at 81-61, have all but locked up the first wild card spot, sporting a 96.2 percent chance of making the playoffs that way.

    The Cardinals, at 75-66, are five games clear of the Phillies and have a 60.6 percent chance of winning the wild card. The Dodgers make it tricky, because they're also above the Phils at 74-67, which gives them a 21 percent chance of making the postseason.

    So, in a weird way, the Phillies have smaller odds of making the playoffs than the 2011 Cardinals, because they have three teams (including Pittsburgh) they need to hop. But they also have a second wild card in play, which gives them hope (otherwise Atlanta would be waltzing away).

    Do the Cardinals have to fall apart? Yeah, they do. Five games is still a lot. But as that very St. Louis team will tell you, it's not as much as you might think.