It is the nature of fans to over-react to the good and the bad things their teams do. And the reactions to players is even more extreme. In general, teams are never as good or as bad as their recent performance would indicate.
Given today’s win in a very well played game, most fans are happy right now. And with 51 games left, the Nats are in great shape. Of course, things can always change. Injuries, losing streaks, winning streaks by competitors are almost a given. But right now, the Nats have the second best record in all of MLB – behind only the Cubs.
The first order of business is to win the Division; a very close second is home field advantage for the first round of the postseason. In order to not be too optimistic, lets assume the Cubs end up with the best record. So home field means finishing with a better record than the Giants.
Lets look first at the remaining games for the Nationals, Marlins, Mets and Giants. They all have 51 games left. The table shows both the winning percentage for each team, as well as how many games against each opponent.
*Not updated for the Sunday night game.
One could spend a lot of time looking at this table and trying to decide who has the easiest schedule. That, of course, is always difficult because certain teams own other teams. And maybe some teams look worse because of who they have played already.
At first glance it appears that the Nats might have the easiest schedule: 13 games against the woeful Braves.
And, of course, teams are streaky. And we all know that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance.
One common way to simplify this is to look at the remaining schedule broken down by games against teams that are above/below .500 so far (see disclaimer above).
|TEAM||Below .500||Above .500|
Looking at this table, it looks like the Giants have the toughest schedule – good news for the Nats getting home field if the Giants win the the NL West. It also looks like the Mets and Nats are close to even in terms of strength of schedule.
But, maybe, just maybe, that is an artifact of using above/below .500 to divide the data into two groups. For example, that Nats have 13 games against the Braves who have a winning percentage of .369. None of the Mets opponents are anywhere near that bad.
So lets calculated a weighted average of the winning percentage for the opponents of these four teams and use that percentage to project the total number of wins by the end of the season. Clearly, lots of assumptions here. And since the Nationals, Marlins, Mets and Giants are all above .500 teams, this might be an underestimate.
|TEAM||Below .500||Above .500||Opponent Weighted Win %||Wins to Date||Projected Wins||Total Wins|
But, of course, there is a reason they still play the games. But it does appear that the Nats are in good shape as far as winning the Division and home field advantage in the Divisional Series.