Speculation on 2006 season’s win lines
A really long toss-off post in which I abruptly reveal that I know too much about sports betting
Out of curiosity, I looked up what the lines on teams are for this season and I’d like to reward you, dear readers, with some easy money tips. All lines were quoted at -115 either way unless otherwise noted. Please, no wagering.
This is intended as a walk down what the conventional wisdom seems to be on the upcoming season, where I see it radically diverging from reality, and then a brief (and likely really bad) foray into how, if I was right on how far off things were, there’s a strange opportunity.
Angels: Over 89.5 (even) Under (-130)
I’ll take the under, please, and it seems I have good company to move the line off that far. Is the over worth it? The Angels are a .500 team: even a maximum swing of luck barely puts them over that. If you think they’re a .500 team, too, that means you should totally bet the under here: any likely swing of luck from 0-7 games in either direction you win. It’s only with +8 or more wins from true talent that you’d lose. Historically, that’s extremely unlikely, and you only have to win 56% of the time to break even. Easy money, even at those odds.
This is almost worth speculating on: buy the bet at the bottom, then generate some rumors that Clemens is coming back and sell it to someone else. And people wonder why the news runs in cycles.
Athletics: Over 89.5 (-120) Under (-110)
I think they’ll hit the over, but at those odds, I’ll pass.
Blue Jays: 87.5
I guess that huge off-season PR campaign paid dividends, because there’s clearly a perception they’re going to make a run at it. This is almost the same as the Angels play, except the wins aren’t quite so out of whack. Still, you’ve only got to win 53% of the time, and the only time you’re going to lose is if luck’s extremely in their favor. This is pretty clearly the best bet of all: most projections and sims put them at about .500, and the line is way, way off without that being reflected in the odds.
I’d say that this is way high, except that every time I think that, they win the division. So I’m staying away. Still, they’re maybe an 85-win team. Which means they’ll go on to win 90.
Cardinals: Over 93.5 (-120) Under (-110)
This is a little crazy. Does anyone understand how hard it is to win 93 games? Even good teams don’t walk to 93 wins. The under’s a good bet. Also, any team thinking about playing Scott Spiezio is a friend of the under.
That’s a bit low, unless Prior’s toast. Is Prior toast? Does the gambling community know something?
Devil Rays: 68
Touch low. Plus they’re under new management with a bunch of smart people… not the best bet here, by any means, though.
Low by a couple of games, but meh.
Dodgers: Over 84.5 (-125) Under (-105)
I think this is low, but the odds don’t make it worth it.
Giants: Over 83.5 (-135) Under (+105)
That’s high, and at +105 it’s a nice little bet. Even an enraged Bonds can’t perform miracles.
Indians: Over 90.5 (+115) Under 90.5 (-145)
This isn’t the strangest line of the bunch, but it’s high by maybe five games and everyone’s betting the under. So while it’s high, you’d have to win 60% of the time to make money. You’re getting better odds on the Angels/Jays.
This is way low. I would totally be buying this if I bet on baseball which I don’t. It’s almost as good odds as the Angels/Blue Jays team, plus you’re enhancing your normal fandom. Plus, if you think Meche might get knocked out of the rotation in spring trainging by Foppert (& Co.), this bet looks even sweeter.
Except every time I say the M’s are going to do well next season, they tank. So forget I wrote that.
That’s way low, by four or some games. They’re not this bad by any margin. It’s hard to lose that many games. Ask yourself: is this team as good or better than the 2004 Mariners? I think they clearly are.
Mets: Over 90.5 (-140) Under (+110)
This is a good little bet on the under. That sweet +110 is almost too nice to resist. The Mets are a good team, but they’re not ninety wins good, so (to re-use this too many times) any bad luck on the season means the under wins, and it’ll take a lucky break on the order of a couple games to get them over… and you only have to win what, 48% of the time to pay out. Maybe not as sweet as some of this others.
Nationals: Over 76.5 (-105) Under (-125)
I know they’re not a glamour team and the Nationals are new in town, but is this really where the line is? Daniel Cabrera alone could get them to 74 wins. This is low, but only by a couple games, so… meh.
A bit high, but meh.
Phillies: Over 82.5 (-110) Under (-120)
A little low. Not enough to make it worthwhile. You never know who Gillick’s going to run out there, after all, which cuts both ways. Also, having recently been threatened by a Phillie Phan, there’s no way I’m supporting his team.
Pirates: Over 75.5 (-140) Under (+110)
Low by a couple games, but the odds aren’t there.
Red Sox: 92
This is low, off by as much as the Angels/Jays. They might not quite be a .500 team, but they’re close, and 74 wins is a fair drop from that. I don’t like this as much as the other two bets, but it’s still nice.
That’s severly low, though it’s not off by as much as even the Reds line is.
Royals: Over 63.5 (-120) Under (-105)
What an ugly team. I remember when new ownership looked like a ray of hope. This line’s about right.
Tigers: Over 77 (-125) Under 77 (-105)
Way low, as much as the Angels. The Tigers are a .500 team. The odds reflect this.
About right, if a little low.
White Sox: Over 92 (-125) Under 92 (-105)
I know they’re the World Champions and all, but there’s just no way. Unless you believe Ozzie Guillen has pixie dust he uses in games, this is way, way high. Even the emergence of McCarthy isn’t going to be enough: they’re just not that good. In a division with the Indians and Twins, where even the Tigers are no pushovers, they’re going to face some serious resistance in trying to get past 85 wins, much less 90. And at -105? This is like free candy. Everyone loves free candy.
Yankees: Over 97.5 (-120) Under (-110)
They’re really good, but they’re not this good. Still, better buys are available.
To sum up! The best picks on the board:
- Angels, take the under at 89.5 (-130), I think the line’s off by nine games, you have to win 56% of the time to make money
- Blue Jays, take the under at 87.5 (-115), I think the line’s off by seven games, you have to win 54% of the time to make money
- Cardinals, take the under 93.5 (-110), I think the line’s off by five games, you have to win 53% of the time to make money
- Giants, take the under 83.5 (+105), I think the line’s off by three games, you have to win 49% of the time to make money
- Mariners, take the over 75 (+115), I think the line’s off by six games, you have to win 54% of the time to make money
- Mets, take the under 90.5 (+110), I think the line’s off by five games, you have to win 48% of the time to make money
- Reds, take the over 73.5 (-115), I think the line’s off by five games, you have to win 54% of the time to make money
- White Sox, take the under 92 (-105), I think the line’s off by ten games, you have to win 52% of the time to make money.
You’re probably asking yourself “Derek, even if I’m a huge fan of U.S.S. Mariner Labs, how is such a thing really applicable?”
Okay. So… I counted 1,128 team-seasons since the start of the 162-game season and ran W/L against RS/RA. Only six were ten games over their expected finish.
10+ games over expected: 6
9+ games over: 13
8+ games over: 24
7+ games over: 47
6+ games over: 72
5+ games over: 137
So only 6% of teams were six games or more over where you’d expect.
12% were 5 or more.
So let’s say you think the Blue Jays are really going to be seven games worse than where the line is. This means you’re buying into my guess at their performance next year, and there’s absolutely no reason for you to do that. But anyway: the chance that they’ll beat the line by chance is about 4%. You expect to win 96% of the time. With current odds, that’s an 87% return on your betting investment. So:
Angels: 98% ROI
White Sox: 98% ROI
Mariners: 89% ROI
Blue Jays: 87% ROI
Mets: 77% ROI
Cardinals: 74% ROI
Reds: 74% ROI
Giants: 47% ROI
Not that you should bet on any of this. My numbers have to be off, right? I mean that’s crazy.
Also: no illegal gambling out there. And don’t take this as advice. And so forth. I have no idea what I’m talking about and am not a professional gambler, etc.