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Braves' September schedule

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A look into the final month of the 2014 season.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It's scary to think the 2014 baseball season is almost over. The Braves have one month left of regular season baseball, with hopefully more to follow. Looking at the big picture, there's a 98% chance they do not win the NL East crown and will look to pick up one of the two wild card spots, placing themselves in the one game playoff.

Today, I wanted to look at the remaining schedule. This is one of those portions the team does not have under control and there is nothing they can do about it. Of course, this matters very little in respect to the fact they still actually have to do that little thing called winning.

Here is how the final 25 games will shake out:

Team Games Win % Pythag Win % Proj. ROS Win %
Philadelphia 6 0.456 0.452 0.472
Washington 6 0.570 0.597 0.579
Pittsburgh 4 0.522 0.511 0.526
Miami 3 0.489 0.478 0.484
Texas 3 0.390 0.400 0.424
New York (N) 3 0.467 0.485 0.471
Total 25 0.491 0.497 0.502

The first column is the most basic - it is simply the opposing teams winning percentage this season. Looking at this column, the Braves will play a final schedule of against teams with a .491 winning percentage.

The second column is the opposing teams' Pythagorean winning percentage up to this point in the season. This peels back a layer and attempts to show how a team should have been expected to perform based on the amount of runs scored and allowed. This shows the final month will be a tad tougher, highlighting that teams like the Nationals and Mets have played better than they record suggests.

Finally, the third (preferred) column - rest of season winning percentage. This is taken via FanGraphs projections and takes into account factors such past player performance, health and playing time for individual players, then eventually boils it down into a team winning percentage. It is the most complete outlook publically available, suggesting the Braves will play a schedule slightly over .500.

Overall, because there is only a month of baseball to be played, there is not going to be much variation between these three. The club will play about as average of a schedule as you could play in the final month. A couple of additional takeaways,

  • They have 13 home and 12 away games remaining.
  • They have three remaining off-days: September 4, September 11 and September 18.
  • They will end the season with a three game series in Philadelphia.
  • Their second to last series is home vs. Pittsburgh (that's probably going to be kind of a big series).
  • The Texas series is in Texas, their furthest remaining trip.

As of now, it's a four teams race and the Braves have about as average of a schedule remaining as you could have. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what the schedule is if the teams doesn't play well. It's as simple as that. Here are the up-to-the-second wildcard standings with % chance of winning,

Team GB %WC
SF +1.0 64.7%
STL/MIL 0.0 50.6%
ATL -1.5 41.1%
PIT -2.0 24.9%

Note this is only wild card chances, so I added the STL and MIL odds together since one of them will win the division and one of them will be in the wild card hunt.

This also highlights how big every additional win is. One win here or there could be the difference between the playoffs and going home as we've seen in recent years. It's because of playoff races like this why many of us at TC continually harp on the lineup construction, in-game management and overall roster construction. Each individual action adds or subtracts a very small run or win change, but netted together, even if optimal decisions only lead to one or two extra wins, means quite a lot. It's tough to accept defeat knowing the optimal process was not in place for long stretches of the season (Dan Uggla, Luis Avilan, top of the order construction, etc.). These examples are things we knew with a decent amount of certainty at the time - not falling victim to any sort of hindsight bias - and the reason they can cause such frustration.

Its going to be an exciting and emotional final month to say the least.