Speculation on 2006 season’s win lines

DMZ · February 28, 2006 at 8:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.

Astros: 82
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.

Braves: 88
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.

Brewers: 81
About right.

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.

Cubs: 84.5
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.

Diamondbacks: 73
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.

Mariners: 75
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.

Marlins: 65.5
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)
About right.

Orioles: 73.5
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.

Padres: 78
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.

Rangers: 82
About right.

Red Sox: 92
About right.

Reds: 73.5
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.

Rockies: 69
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.

Twins: 83
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.


15 Responses to “Speculation on 2006 season’s win lines”

  1. CSG on February 28th, 2006 8:41 pm

    These picks all seem about right, especially the Angels and White Sox, who I doubt even win the Central. Just curious, where do you have the Marlins pegged, they seem like such an unknown commodity.

  2. JI on February 28th, 2006 9:05 pm

    The NL really sucks this year, despite a)holding tryouts fo LF, b)ditto at 2B, and c)the Juan Encarnacion contracts the Cards will sleepwalk to 90 wins if their rotation stays healty.

    Or are you saying no NL team wins 90 games this year?

  3. Matthew Carruth on February 28th, 2006 9:12 pm

    the NL doesn’t suck. You have the Giants rebounding with Bonds, LA rebounding with less injuries. The Braves, Phillies and Mets should be mid to upper 80s in wins. The Brewers should improve on the 81 wins, the Cubs could be better, the Pirates better, the Reds better. It’s not so much the NL sucking, it just looks like an almost entire league of parity. Really the teams without a shot are Washington, Florida, Pittsburgh, Houston (w/o Clemens and likely even with), Cincy, Col and Arizona. The other 9 all seem like low to high 80 win teams. I think it’s going to be harder than usual to take 90+ wins in the Central. Much the same in the AL’s version.

  4. Matthew Carruth on February 28th, 2006 9:15 pm

    BTW, over at Bodog you can find very similar lines (some are 1/2 to 1 game more in the right direction, but much better odds. e.g. they have the Angels at 88.5 wins, but betting the under is at EVEN instead of -130.

  5. DMZ on February 28th, 2006 9:15 pm

    That one game makes a huge difference: the ROI @ 8 games off the line and even odds is 96% instead of 98%.

    Okay, so not so much a huge difference as “not the difference you might expect, given that the odds seem to be significantly better”

  6. JI on February 28th, 2006 9:19 pm


    That’s what I mean by “sucks,” the temas aren’t good. I should have been more clear. I’m one of the biggest NL honks you’ll find (I hate the DH) so it pains me to admit their inferiority. I’m tired of people telling me that the AL is superior because they have had more success in the AS game recently. The AL has been more top heavy, particularly the top of the AL East…

  7. JI on February 28th, 2006 9:24 pm

    There should be a wager to see how many months our firey Designated Hitter lasts before he is designated for assingment. If I may be so bold, I’ll set the over/under at 3.5. (OVER)!

    *I really wish I could spell check #2. D’OH!

  8. Matthew Carruth on February 28th, 2006 9:24 pm

    Ok, I guess I just disagree that the teams aren’t as good. They just have a tougher strength of schedule. Though honestly, I don’t see many 90+ win teams out there at all. I don’t think the AL West gets one, though Oakland should be, it’ll be a tough division. Likewise the Central with everyone but KC. And the east should have an improved TB and TOR teams. I’d likely take the under on any team slated to win more than 90-2 except Bos and NYY.

  9. JI on February 28th, 2006 9:29 pm


    I think Oakland will win over a hundred. But common sense says “pull to the mean!” so I’ll say they roll off 95. Having them locked in at 89 and a half looks like a good money maker.

  10. Matthew Carruth on February 28th, 2006 9:46 pm

    I don’t see how they pull that off playing 57 games against ANA, SEA, and TEX, all teams that I see winning 80-85 games.

  11. JI on February 28th, 2006 10:02 pm

    # 10

    The people that run this board are (obviously) a hell of a lot smarter than I am, so they could probably tell how much of a variable SOS is. My instinct: not a hell of a whole lot, and I don’t see the M’s as an 80 win team.

    If they’re in the 70s that evens things out more as the only pushover (at this moment) in the AL is the Royals, and losing Green-Key didn’t help matters much. Sidenote– We can whine about back to back 90 win seasons all we want, but at least we have Felix and a few others in the pipeline. The Royals have almost no hope on the horizon.

    I’d bet under on the Cubs, ‘Stros, Angels, Giants, and surely the Sox. And over on the Twins, A’s, and maybe the Marlins.

  12. CCW on February 28th, 2006 10:04 pm

    Does anyone else get the feeling the American League has a lot more talent than the NL this year? Moreso than any year in recent memory? It’s hard to imagine any team racking up a huge number of wins in the AL these days, with only Kansas City to really push around. In the NL, there may not be a team as bad as KC, but I don’t think there’s a single team in the NL as good as the Yankees, Red Sox, As, Indians, or White Sox.

  13. Evan on March 1st, 2006 10:56 am

    You’re pretty close to turning me into a gambler, Derek.

  14. colm on March 1st, 2006 12:45 pm

    Nice prediction there Derek.

    I’ll have to get me a piece of the action on the W’Sox and the Angels. Those lines are way off.

    That’s got me excited again. When does the flat racing season start?

  15. Adam S on March 1st, 2006 1:03 pm

    I was in Las Vegas (legal gambling) a couple of weeks ago and went through a similar exercise. I wish I’d had this analysis then :). The lines must have just opened because everything was still -115. I based my guesses/estimates on last year’s Pythagorean standings and looked at off-season changes.

    I agree with your comments on most teams, but when push comes to shove, the Angels and the under is the only one of your 8 best bets I actually took though I like the White Sox under a lot too.

    The biggest places we disagree are the Blue Jays and the Indians. I’m not really on the Blue Jays bandwagon and don’t like many of their moves. They underperformed their 1st order wins by 7 last year (87.5). They just need to match that to hit the line. (Though 2nd order were dead on, and I’m not sure what that means going forward.) I don’t think they’re legit contenders but a full season of Halladay and Burnett plus an improved bullpen should make them better than last year, shouldn’t it?

    I think the Indians are the best team in baseball. Maybe I’m deluded. I look at the 2005 team, see 93 wins despite a horrible start and getting unlucky according to 1st and 2nd order wins and see a great team. Basically it’s Michaels/Byrd/Johnson instead of Crisp/Millwood/Elarton which is a loss, but the youngsters should all improve and either Boone hits or Marte plays which fills their biggest lineup hole. I can’t see Martinez having such a horrible start again either. Maybe they can’t repeat last year and win 93 or be less unlucky and near 100 wins like I think, but how do they project to only 85 wins? I really liked the OVER here.

    I also think the Mets line (90.5) is pretty dead on. Pythagorean from last year has them 88-90 wins. Beltran should be better and Delgado helps a lot. The Marlins fire sale and the Nationals poor moves probably gives them a couple extra wins. Even with some fall-offs in pitching they should be near 90, I’d think.

    You’ve researched this all more than I have and are probably right, so I’d be curious why you see these teams so differently than I.

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