Thursday, July 12
LAS VEGAS – The surest way to tell who is overachieving or underachieving in a given sports season is to look at how teams compare to their over/under season win totals.
On this continent, I’m referring to NFL, MLB, NBA & NHL though college football and basketball are starting to find their way on more sports books’ menus in recent years. Even more than the odds to win the championship (where there might be just a handful of teams with a legitimate shot at the title), season win totals fine-tune how teams are expected to perform. They’re traditionally posted a month or two before the start of the season and the wise guys and the public pound them into place.
Now, even the most casual baseball fan can tell you the most overachieving and underachieving teams so far this season as we sit at the All-Star Break with action to resume on Friday. The Phillies were the 6-1 favorite to win the World Series and an even more solid 5-2 favorite to win the National League back in March, but they’re just 37-50 at the break and 14 games behind Washington and in last place in the NL East.
Their demise is magnified when we look at the accompanying chart and see that their projected over/under win total was 92.5 (far right column). The column labeled “pace” is just what it suggests; it’s the number of wins the team will have if maintaining its current pace (basically wins divided by games played so far times 162). Since no one expects the Phillies to continue to be so bad (nor the Pirates or other overachievers we’ll get to in a minute to continue being so good), we’ve included “PM Proj” which is the PredictionMachine.com projections for each team based on simulating the rest of the season 50,000 times and found at http://www.predictionmachine.com/Season-Projections.
The Phillies are on a pace for just 68.9 wins and the PM Proj has them improving a little to 73.2, but that’s still 19.3 wins under their o/u of 92.5.
The Red Sox and Tigers are other well-documented underachievers though they’re closer to being in playoff contention, but it would surprise many people to know that statistically neither of them are close to being the second-biggest. The Rockies had an over/under season win total of 81.5 (just over .500) but are only 33-52 and on pace for just 62.9 wins (18.6 under) with a PM Proj of 70.4 (still 11.1 under). They’re the only other team that looks like it will finish 10 full games under their betting total.
The top overachievers are also obvious with the White Sox and Pirates leading each league’s Central division at the break. The Pirates have been the bigger media darling due to their franchise’s longer run of futility, and that’s justified as their over/under was 73.5 and they’re on pace for 91.5 wins (18 over) with a PredictionMachine.com projection of 86.8 (still 13.3 over). The White Sox are on pace to be 15.1 over their betting total of 74.5 with a PM Proj of 86.5 (still 12 over).
Those teams are challenged for overachievers of the year by the Orioles (on pace to be 16.3 over their total with a PM Proj 12.1 over) and the Mets (on pace to be 15.2 over their total and a PM Proj 12.7 over). Note: the Mets were the top “over” play by Paul Bessire of PredictionMachine.com prior to the season.
Now, I hear some rumblings from the District of Columbia saying “What about the Nationals?” Yes, they are leading the NL East when the Phillies were expected by many to run away with the division, but the Nationals have been an up-and-coming team and a popular play of Vegas wise guys. Their over/under was set at 84, so while they’re certainly on pace to win 95.6 and having a PM Proj of 91.5, they’re still not overachieving quite as much as the Pirates, White Sox, Orioles and Mets.
However, it is worthy of note that the Nationals are actually the 3-1 favorite to win the National League at the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (formerly the Hilton). The Reds are the 4-1 second choice (despite trailing the Pirates by a game at the break, and the PredictionMachine.com Projections agree with that as it has the Reds finishing 2 games ahead of the Bucs) with the Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals all at 5-1. The Pirates are 12-1.
In the American League, the Rangers are the 11-5 favorite with the Yankees right behind at 12-5, followed by the Angels at 9-2, Tigers at 6-1 and White Sox at 7-1.
The Rangers are the 9-2 favorite to win the World Series with the Yankees at 5-1, the Nationals at 7-1, the Angels at 9-1, the Reds at 10-1, and the Giants, Tigers, Cardinals and Dodgers all at 12-1. The full lists, plus odds to win each division, can be found on my ViewFromVegas.com Forums at http://forums.viewfromvegas.com/user/discussion.aspx?id=337643
I texted with Jay Kornegay at the LVH during the All-Star Game and he said he wasn’t planning to adjust any World Series futures based on the National League winning home-field advantage with its 8-0 win last night. With the team with HFA winning 6 of the last 9 World Series (including the NL winning the last two years), there might be some added value if you want to bet your favorite NL team ASAP.
Good luck the rest of the season.
East (Record) Pace PM Proj O/U
Yankees (52-33) 99.1 91.1 93.5
Orioles (45-40) 85.8 81.6 69.5
Red Sox (43-43) 81.0 84.3 90.0
Rays (45-41) 84.8 82.6 87
Blue Jays (43-43) 81.0 80.5 81.5
White Sox (47-38) 89.6 86.5 74.5
Indians (44-41) 83.9 82.5 79
Tigers (44-42) 82.9 85.0 93.0
Royals (37-47) 71.4 74.5 80.0
Twins (36-49) 68.6 70.6 72.5
Rangers (52-34) 98.0 94.8 92.0
Angels (48-38) 90.4 87.5 92.5
Athletics (43-43) 81.0 78.7 71.5
Mariners (36-51) 67.0 69.8 71.5
East (Record) Pace PM Proj O/U
Nationals (49-34) 95.6 91.5 84.0
Braves (46-39) 87.7 86.0 86.5
Mets (46-40) 86.7 84.2 71.5
Marlins (41-44) 78.1 79.1 84.5
Phillies (37-50) 68.9 73.2 92.5
Pirates (48-37) 91.5 86.8 73.5
Reds (47-38) 89.6 88.9 88.0
Cardinals (46-40) 86.7 86.4 84.5
Brewers (40-45) 76.2 80.5 85.0
Cubs (33-52) 62.9 68.9 73.5
Astros (33-53) 62.2 66.1 63.0
Giants (46-40) 86.7 85.4 87.0
Dodgers (47-40) 87.5 84.1 81.0
D’backs (42-43) 80.0 83.4 86.0
Padres (34-53) 63.3 65.0 74.0
Rockies (33-52) 62.9 70.4 81.5
Dave Tuley is an award-winning journalist who has covered the Las Vegas race & sports beat since 1998, first for the GamingToday newspaper in Vegas and has written for Daily Racing Form since 2000. Tuley started his own website, ViewFromVegas.com, in 2007 and has written for other websites, including ESPN.com. In 2006, he won "Best News Story" by the Professional Football Writers of America, the only time a gambling story has won a PFWA award. Tuley, 45, grew up in the Chicago suburbs and is married with children in Vegas. His roots can be seen in the names of his three children: daughters Jordyn and Peyton (named for Walter Payton, not Peyton Manning) and son Maddux. Dave can be followed on Twitter @ViewFromVegas.