St. Louis Cardinals: Cards have attainable magic number for the playoffs

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 24: A general view of Busch Stadium during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 24, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 24: A general view of Busch Stadium during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 24, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Cardinals find themselves right in the mix after pulling off eight-straight wins. Now that we are in the hunt, what is the magic number of wins it will take to make the postseason? To give an idea of what it will be, I will use my Predator Power Index (PPI) projections.

The St. Louis Cardinals have been one of the hottest teams in Major League Baseball for quite some time now. Over the last thirty games, the St. Louis Cardinals have been tied with the Chicago Cubs posting a solid 18-12 record. Over the past twenty games the St. Louis Cardinals have been the second best team in baseball posting a 14-6 record.

The great news that all St. Louis Cardinals fans should be excited about, other than waking up and checking the current standings, is with our future projections. Using my Predator Power Index (PPI), we are ranked 9th in the Major Leagues. This is unmoved from last week, but we closed the gap tremendously with the teams above us.

First, lets look at the PPI Expected Win/Loss. This is a projection using statistics of the team to account a win total they should have had through the games they have played. For a more detailed explanation, reference my first article I wrote using the PPI: “We should not fear the Chicago Cubs.”

Last week’s ranking on August 7th, we had a PPI Expected Win/Loss record of 59-52. Pretty solid, right? At the time, it also showed we were underperforming by a fairly decent amount holding only a 55-56 record.

Now looking at the current PPI Expected Win/Loss, all one can do is smile if you are a Cardinals fan. Coming into tomorrow’s series with the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals have stormed back with a 61-57 record.

Even with a great week we have still underperformed where we should be according to my PPI Expected Win/Loss because it shows they should be roughly 64-54, but I do not think anyone is going to complain about where we are at.

Next, as we all have been waiting for, what does my Predator Power Index show for the end of the season?

As of August 14th, here are PPI Projections for NL Central end of year standings:

Team                                        Win            Loss              GB

Chicago Cubs                          86.7             75.3               –

St. Louis Cardinals                84.9              77.1             1.8

Milwaukee Brewers             81.7              80.3             4.9

Pittsburgh Pirates                78.5              83.5             8.1

Cincinnati Reds                      69.4              92.6             17.2

This is promising for the Redbirds being projected at only 1.8 games behind the Cubs for the end of the season. At the start of August, the St. Louis Cardinals were projected to finish 5.6 games behind the Chicago Cubs and slightly under the .500 mark, so we have gained drastically fourteen days.

The NL Central looks to be more attainable to win by my PPI Projections, but teams can get hot as we have seen this past week that can change their outlook. This leads me to question, can two NL Central teams make it into the postseason by stealing a second wild card spot from the powerhouse NL West Division?

As of August 14th, here are PPI Projections for Wild Card end of year standings:

Team                                            Win         Loss          GB

Arizona Diamondbacks          90.3         71.7            –

Colorado Rockies                     88.1         73.9            –

St. Louis Cardinals                   84.9         77.1          3.2

Milwaukee Brewers                81.7         80.3          6.3

Pittsburgh Pirates                   78.5         83.5          9.5

Clearly, the St. Louis Cardinals have to play well above their projected win totals to get to their goal of making the postseason via wild card. Realistically, having the wild card wins being higher than our total number of wins it will take to win the division, shows that it is really going to take the Arizona Diamondbacks or Colorado Rockies stumbling down the stretch to be closer to the 86 win mark our division is at.

So with all this being said, what is our magic number we need to make the postseason?

First, we must win 85 games, our projected total, to have even a legit chance. Even that only leaves us with hope the Chicago Cubs continue to struggle until the end of the season to gain that 1.8 game difference on them. Truthfully, they are too good to do that, so it is going to take quality play like we have seen the rest of the way.

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All the numbers speak that 86 is the minimum number our NL Central division winner will be at. Someone will get hot and finish at or above this number because for three weeks our final standings projection have been near 86/87. Thinking ahead, considering the St. Louis Cardinals play the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers in our final two series. If everyone is bottlenecked like we are now, those two series will prove to be ultra critical as Larry Levin discussed.

Lastly, my final answer for a win total to make the postseason, the St. Louis Cardinals need to reach 88 wins. I say this because this is going to be closer to not only our division champions record, but also the wild card. Even that may not be enough to catch the fiesty Diamondbacks and Rockies, but it will put them in strong contention to win the division without a doubt.

This means that the St. Louis Cardinals will have to play three games above their projected 85 wins the rest of the way. To put that in perspective, we will need to finish the final month and half of the season with a 27-17 record, compared to their projected 24-20 record. Not impossible by any means, but if we do that we will be steam rolling into the Postseason.

Crazy things have transpired in recent days. I mean, a cat runs on the field and we proceed to hit a grand slam. Not only that, do it again the next day. Overall, I am just happy the St. Louis Cardinals are in this race.

Next: Waiver arms to consider

I told them on August 5th they were down to their final strike in my “Outlook for the optimistic 2017 fan.” Just as the 2011 team did, they pulled through in the clutch better than expected. I believe in this 2017 team now more than ever, and I have no reason not to expect a solid finish down the final stretch.