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Cardinals Clinch Post-Season Berth; Steve Tries to Explain the Tie-Breakers

Posted: September 22, 2013 at 11:55 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Before we go…

The race for the NL Central is pretty damn heated. As it currently stands, if the season ended today, then the Reds would play at Pittsburgh for the Wild Card spot, then the winner would travel to Atlanta, while the Dodgers would head to St. Louis.

This is by far the closest race, as Boston, Oakland, Atlanta, and Los Angeles have all clinched their division titles, while Detroit’s five games up on Cleveland. It’s very possible this could end in a two- or even three-way tie for first.

Should that happen, things might get confusing. I’ll try to explain the scenarios as best as I can for the Cardinals. This is presuming the Nationals are eliminated by the end of the season; if Washington somehow finishes tied with Cincinnati or Pittsburgh, they would either host the Reds (4-3 against them this season) or play at Pittsburgh (3-4) in the Wild Card play-in. This is also presuming Atlanta’s not in the mix for a four-way tie. God help us if that happens.

Should Cincinnati and St. Louis tie for first:

A tie-breaker would be played Monday, September 30, at Busch Stadium

Should Pittsburgh and St. Louis tie for first:

A tie-breaker would be played Monday, September 30, at PNC Park

Should Pittsburgh and Cincinnati tie for first:

Whoever finishes with the best head-to-head record (i.e., whoever wins that final series) will host a tie-breaker on September 30.

Easy enough.

Now, if a three-way tie happens, then things get messy.

Here are how the teams have fared against each other so far:

St. Louis: 11-8 vs Cincinnati, 9-10 vs Pittsburgh – 20-18 record

Cincinnati: 8-11 vs St. Louis, 8-8 vs Pittsburgh – 16-19 record

Pittsburgh: 10-9 vs St. Louis, 8-8 vs Cincinnati, 18-17 record

The very first tie-breaker to determine home-field advantage for the play-in game would be if all three teams have an identical combined winning percentage against each other. This cannot happen mathematically. I’m Asian. Trust me.

So, here we go. Bear with me.

Should St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh all tie for first:

If Pittsburgh sweeps Cincinnati and finishes 11-8 against them, 10-9 against the Cardinals, then the Cardinals will host Cincinnati September 30. The winner of that game will then host Pittsburgh October 1. The winner of that game will be the division champion, and the loser of the first game and the loser of the second game would be the wild card spots. *

* –  Technically, Pittsburgh could choose to play the first game, and the Cardinals could play at Cincinnati. By the rules, Pittsburgh would choose its designation as team A, B, or C, and then the Cardinals would choose its designation from the remaining letters. Team A hosts Team B, and the winner would then host Team C. It’s unlikely, however, either team would choose to do anything other than what was described in the previous paragraph. Everything mentioned in the first and the following paragraphs is what would likely happen.

If Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati in two games and finishes 10-9 against them, 10-9 against the Cardinals, then the Cardinals will host Cincinnati September 30. The winner of that game will then host Pittsburgh October 1. The winner of that game will be the division champion, and the loser of the first game and the loser of the second game would be the wild card spots.

If Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh in two games and finishes 10-9 against them, 8-11 against the Cardinals, then…since the Cardinals would have the best overall winning percentage among the teams (.526 against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh; Cincinnati would have a winning percentage of .473, Pittsburgh would have a winning percentage of .500), then Pittsburgh will host Cincinnati, and the winner of that game will host the Cardinals. The winner of that game will be the division winner, and the loser of the first game and the loser of the second game would be the wild card spots.

If Cincinnati sweeps Pittsburgh and finishes 11-8 against them, 8-11 against the Cardinals, then…since the Cardinals would have the best overall winning percentage among the teams (.526 against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh; Cincinnati would have a winning percentage of .500, Pittsburgh would have a winning percentage of .476), then Cincinnati will host Pittsburgh, and the winner of that game will host the Cardinals. The winner of that game will be the division winner, and the loser of the first game and the loser of the second game would be the wild card spots.

think. If you would like to review the tie-breaker rules and spot an error in my analysis, please do so. The rules are here. I will buy you a beer if you can show me any inaccuracies in the outcomes.

Anyways. Let’s just hope the Cardinals win the next six and clinch the Central. The Cardinals host Washington Monday through Wednesday, then host the Cubs Friday through Sunday.

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