The Pirates have just completed an amazing first half and are looking like serious contenders. The team is on a roll and is looking to make this season special not only to themselves but to all Pirate fans. The question becomes though what does the success or failure of the second half rely on.
Look many things can still happen with this clube they could continue to excel or bomb out but when I look at this Pirates club and look at their schedule one thing stands out to me. Baseball Prospectus constantly updates their projected Playoff Odds of all teams. Right now in the NL there are currently 9 teams with a 29.9% or better chance of making the playoffs and there are 4 teams with a less than 0.1% chance of making the playoffs. The set of 9 teams which includes the Pirates are your contenderes whereas the 4 teams with basically no chance of making the playoffs are the dregs on the league. In the second half of the season the Pirates play 33 games against the contenders and 33 games against the dregs. One never wants to assume something but if this Pirate team is real the Pirates should do fairly well in those games against the dregs and why we would hope they could their own against the contenders it is at least possible those 33 games could go rather poorly. The things is though if this is the case none of these games will define their season they will basically just be right where it appears they should be.
Outside of the 13 teams and 66 games I discussed lies 3 teams and 15 games. The Pirates only play two of three teams currently lying in that middle ground and one of the two they only play 3 times. That means the Pirates play one of these middle teams 12 times the rest of the season. You want a defining strecth of just how good these Pirates are its these 12 games. Do well in them and the Pirates will probably break 500 and might even contend for the playoffs even if they play below 500 baseball against the contenders. Play poorly and we are likely looking at losing season number 20. The matchups against this team the rest of the year will in my opinion greatly shape what tpye of team the 2012 Pirates are. This isn’t to say the other 69 games aren’t important. I mean the Pirates still have to beat up on the dregs (I’m thinking at least 20-21 wins) and they have to be non-horrible against the contenders (I’m thinking at least 12 wins) but as far as defining if this team is a contender or not these 12 games appear to be the sepeartion point.
Of course a lot could still change if the Pirates beat the dregs at an .800 clip and play arounbd .500 baseball against the contenders than these games won’t matter as much. Conversely if the Pirates only play .500 baseball against the dregs and are bad against the contenders these games won’t matter as much for the opposite reason. However if the Pirates as should be relatively expected play some where in between as hard as it is to believe one opponent will greatly impact this Pirate season.
Oh and the team if you haven’t guessed it by now are our dear old friend the Milwaukee Brewers. And you know what I wouldn’t want it any other way.