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Baseball’s “magic number” helps on-the-brink playoff teams determine how close they are to post-season play, and the Cardinals’ number shows they’re close.
As MLB fans count down the final days of the season, there’s another end-of-season countdown taking place: watching a team’s “magic number” wind all the way down to zero.
And for the St. Louis Cardinals, getting from six to zero in a little over a week is what they’ll need to do to play in October, specifically in the NL Wild Card Game.
The second-place team in the NL Central, the Cardinals now have playoff odds at 97.5 percent, their four wins against the Milwaukee Brewers putting them firmly ahead the third-place Cincinnati Reds.
The St. Louis Cardinals round out the 2021 season with a magic number of 6
While their odds are rather solid, their magic number remains 6. The magic number is calculated by taking an entire season of games, then adding one for a total of 163. Then, the wins of the Cardinals are subtracted, as are the losses of the secondary team.
The formula looks like this:
The Cardinals currently stand at 83-69, while the Reds have 78-74. So 163-83+74=6. With a magic number of 6, any combination of Cardinals wins and Reds losses that adds up to 6 would clinch the division title for St. Louis.
Unfortunately for the Reds, the playoffs are completely out of reach as another loss makes this season “mathematically kaput.” Cincinnati Mag baseball columnist Chad Dotson reflected on another Reds loss, but claims the rest of their schedule is easy — a factor that could affect the Cardinals’ magic number.
Whether the Reds win or lose, the second-place spot is secured for the Cardinals as they head into a full October slate. Of course, the Phillies also play a role in the Cards’ playoff chances.
Before the season’s end, the Cardinals will face the Chicago Cubs twice and the Brewers once again. For an unlikely playoff contender, a little post-season magic is finally within reach — as long as the Cardinals can whittle away the magic number to zero.