Thursday, March 04, 2010

Listening to Vegas

I hate the overrated/underrated game. You know how it goes: "such-and-such team is overrated/underrated" or "such-and-such team exceeded expectations." What I hate is that the standard is so nebulous. Give me something I can evaluate, like wins and losses.

For my money, the best standard for measuring expectations is the degenerate gamblers. Show me guys who have laid serious money on both sides of a number, and I'll show you guys who have done some homework. Which is why I made a point of sifting through some gambling sites tonight to see what the over/under wins number was for American League teams. (BTW, these are found at

AL West
Angels - 84.5
Rangers - 84.5
Mariners - 83.5
A's - 79.5

Here's why I'm glad I did this - because I already fell into the overrated/underrated trap. I've heard so many people tout the Mariners this year that I hinted six weeks ago that I think they're overrated. But 83.5 wins doesn't seem excessive. That feels about right for the Mariners.

By the way, if you're a big Baseball Prospectus PECOTA guy, here's your chance to put your money where your mouth is. PECOTA states that the Angels should win about 76 games this year, or 8.5 games less than Vegas. It's the biggest spread between PECOTA and Vegas in the American League. Bet the "under" and double your money.

And for the record, I wouldn't touch that "under" bet with a 10 ft pole. The Angels won 97 games last year, and now we think they're going to win just 84? And PECOTA thinks they'll lose an extra 21 games this year?

AL East
Red Sox 94.5
Yankees 94.5
Rays 89.5
Orioles 73.5
Blue Jays 71.5

Here's a shocker - the wild card team is likely coming from the AL East. Vegas' money is ranking the Rays as the underdog, which isn't totally shocking considering all the money that pours in from the Northeast. For the record, PECOTA likes the Rays a couple games more than Vegas and the Yankees a couple of games less, making it a much closer race. I'd love that to be true. I'd love to see the Yankees miss the playoffs. I'm small and bitter that way.

Now let's get to the one you've all been waiting for...

AL Central
Twins 83.5
White Sox 82.5
Tigers 80.5
Indians 74.5
Royals 71.5

That's the order I would come up with too, with the Twins and White Sox a step or two ahead of the Tigers, and way ahead of the Indians and Royals. But I think Vegas is underestimating the spread between the top two teams and the rest of the division. Both of those teams feel like they're 90-win teams. It would truly be a sucker bet to parlay two "over" bets in the same division, but that would tempt me.

Instead, can I bet against PECOTA? It lists the Twins, White Sox AND Tigers as 80 win teams. If only BP would open a casino.


Anonymous said...

They still haven't worked out playing time in their depth charts. The PECOTA everyone keeps referencing is a BETA version.

JimCrikket said...

See this is why it's a good thing Iowa doesn't have legalized sportsbook (yet... there's talk). I'd be out there betting the "over" on 7 AL teams. Twins, WSox, Yankees, RSox, Angels, Rangers and Mariners. Will they all cover? Probably not. But I have a tough time imagining over half of them failing to do so.

neckrolls said...

The new PECOTA definitely has some kinks to work out. On the Twins' depth chart, Jeff Manship is counted twice. That explains why every other team is projected to throw 1457 IP (reasonably close to last year's MLB average of 1442 IP), but the Twins are projected to throw 1497. Take away the extra 40 IP of Manship, and the Twins' depth chart starts to make more sense.

That extra 40 IP from Manship is projected at a 5.22 ERA, resulting in about 23 extra ER. Subtract those 23 R from the Twins present total of 801 RA (a preposterous number - the Twins haven't come within 35 R of 800 allowed in the Gardy era) and you get 778 RA to go with 796 RS. That differential gives you a first-order pythagorean record of 83-79 - right in line with Vegas.

I'll take the over.

Anonymous said...

JimCrikket: You don't need a sportsbook in can bet online! Don't forget the moneyline,'ll typically cost you something like $115 to win $100, so even winning four of your seven bets means you about break even.

Anonymous said...

If I was a gambler, I'd lay a lot of money on the Twins over... We won more games last year with a weaker team in what was likely a stronger division. I'd have to agree with John, I see four or five pretty easy bets here that you could parlay into huge winnings... Or you can just play it safe and bet the Twins with the over.

JimCrikket said...

No way I do the online betting thing. I know myself well enough to see that being a dangerous path toward an unhealthy addiction. It's best that I continue to pretend that option doesn't exist! :)