The Senators’ Playoff Chances

There are exactly three weeks left in the Eastern League’s regular season. Twenty-one days (and in the Senators’ case, 21 games) left to decide who is going to the postseason and who has a lot more free time to work on their golf game.

Here are the current standings heading into tonight’s games:

W L PCT GB
Harrisburg 65 56 .537
Erie 63 56 .529 1
Bowie 60 59 .504 4
Richmond 60 60 .500 4.5
Akron 56 64 .467 8.5
Altoona 55 64 .462 9

The tiebreaker procedures, for the last playoff spot or to decide who gets the top seed, if multiple teams have the same record are as follows in order:

1. Head-to-head record
2. Runs scored head-to-head
3. Intra-division record
4. Coin flip

Two games up in the win column on Erie and four games ahead of Bowie, the Senators appear on the precipice of another playoff appearance which would be their third in the last four seasons. But with this many games left, especially against each other, anything can happen.

Let’s look at three different methods to predict the finish…

Opponent-Based Winning Percentages
Using the winning percentages against division opponents for the remaining schedule.

Proj Record W L
Erie 17-6 80 62
Harrisburg 11-10 76 66
Richmond 11-11 71 71
Bowie 9-14 69 73
Altoona 11-12 66 76
Akron 9-13 65 77

Pythagorean Winning Percentage
A Bill James devised algorithm that is based on the idea that runs scored compared to runs allowed is a better indicator of a team’s future performance than a team’s actual winning percentage.

Proj Record W L
Harrisburg 11-10 76 66
Erie 11-12 74 68
Bowie 12-11 72 70
Richmond 11-11 71 71
Akron 10-12 66 76
Altoona 11-12 66 76

Division-Adjusted Pythagorean Winning Percentage
Using the same formula as above, but separate calculations for each division.

Proj Record W L
Harrisburg 12-9 77 65
Erie 12-11 75 67
Bowie 12-11 72 70
Richmond 10-12 70 72
Akron 10-12 66 76
Altoona 11-12 66 76

By all three predictors, the Senators appear to be headed to the playoffs. But one thing to keep strongly in mind is that all of these are based on the previous 120ish games up until this point. It’s easy for a streaking or slumping team to upset the balance of the league over these last three weeks.

As far as tiebreakers go, the only team that has an advantage over the Senators is the SeaWolves. And Harrisburg can flip that on its head if they win at least three out of four in their four-game series with Erie. As for the other teams, the Senators already hold the tiebreaker over the Baysox and Aeros due to a better head-to-head record. With seven games still slated against the Flying Squirrels, the Senators need to only win at least three of them to hold an edge over Richmond. And to have the tiebreaker over the Curve, the Senators need to win at least two games in their four-game series or one game and not be outscored by 19 runs in the entire series.

Things are definitely looking good for the Senators, but they need to finish strong to close out the 2013 campaign.

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