Over at Baseball Prospectus, Colin Wyers rolled out this year's first Playoff Odds Report last night. He goes into quite a bit of depth explaining what the Playoff Odds Report is here ($), but the long and short of it is that they take the preliminary depth charts and run a bunch of simulations using PECOTA as a baseline to project what's going to happen over the course of the season. There are, of course, a million caveats (spring training battles and injuries and PECOTA's strengths and weaknesses and so on and so forth), but it's usually a pretty instructive way to understand exactly how thigns stand at this point in the pre-pre-season. This is how the first run of the odds sees the NL Central:
A 17% chance of making the playoffs! A better-than-one-in-ten chance of making the division round! Almost a full percentage point of a chance of winning the World Series!
Look, I know that celebrating this seems sarcastic or cynical or worse, but I'm posting this to be legitimately hopeful. It's been a long time since any pre-season projection program has seen the Pirates as a near-.500 team that could make the playoffs more than a handful of times in 100 simulations. As I've been saying all winter, the Pirates aren't quite there yet and you still have to do some dreaming to imagine this group of players as a playoff team, but at least there's less dreaming to be done than in previous years.