July MLB (8/1/11)

By Paul Bessire

Monday, August 1 at 6:51 PM ET
As you have hopefully already seen, we are launching several new features on the site for this upcoming football season. We have also just published our College Football Preview complete with projected standings, bowl results and O/U win total picks. While much of my time and energy has been focused on football (especially now as NFL teams are changing hourly), baseball has remained a focus. The blog has been pretty light on baseball performance and content recently, so with another month completed and the Trade Deadline behind us, I'll focus on that in a quick entry here. Fortunately, we have remained profitable overall - very strong in our highlighted plays - getting through an educational first six weeks to rebound with what has become another product that performs at or above the level of expectations set forth by the successes of our other products (namely NFL, college football and college basketball). Below you will find highlights from July (really from June and July since our last major engine update) as well as final win total projections for every team.

June and July MLB Performance Review:
We're grouping June and July together as the two months since our last significant engine tweak. As this was our first season providing daily baseball information, there was some learning and adjusting on the fly that took place early. Since that has settled, the numbers have been positive. June was slightly better than July with "Normal+" and "Upset Watch" plays, while July was a little better than June on overall profitability of playable picks. Over these two months, which include just less than 1,500 opinions - a significant sample size - we have seen the performance of our plays generally reach or exceed our published expectations in every notable category (i.e. 60%+ picks hit 60%+ of the time... we've done a decent amount of research on this lately, but if you see an area with significant occurrences where our performance greatly deviates from our expected cover percentage in either direction, please let us know and we will gladly review). It's probably most important to note that, with that steady performance, O/U, money-line and run-line plays have each been profitable - with slightly varying degrees, but enough so that playing any of those individually would have more than exceeded the price of the picks package for two months (even if "Weak" games are played in addition to "Normal+"). Here is a recap of the highlights (all dollar amounts are based on recommendations for a normal $50 player, RL results since 6/16 RL tweak):


  • 70%, +$711 (28-12) "Normal" or better Money-Line and O/U plays
  • 69%, +$407 (22-10) "Upset Watch" picks (Money-Line plays where UNDERDOG is predicted to win outright)
  • 55%, +$992 (320-265) Return for all playable Money-Line plays in June and July
  • 56%, +$230 (221-177) Return for all playable Over/Under plays in June and July
  • 56%, +$366 (178-140) Return for all playable Run-Line plays in June and July


Performance Observations:
Run-lines - As noted, Run-lines have performed well/profitably since the 6/16 update. Interestingly though, with additional juice usually applied to these plays, we rarely see "Normal+" run-line plays. In the last six weeks, there have only been four (which have gone 3-1, +$79). It is rare to have many strong RL opinions. Money-lines seem to provide the more consistent opportunity for market exploitation.

Trades - There must be something in human nature that causes people to jump all over teams that make notable deals. I have noticed this in the past with inflated expectations after major off-season signings/trades and at the trade deadline of other sports, but my/our awareness to this fact has been amplified with the daily baseball products. Bettors pounced on the Giants when they acquired Carlos Beltran. We plugged Beltran in right field, batting third, simulated the games 50,000 times and picked San Francisco's opponent as one of our top two ML plays in each game since the trade (and those plays are 3-1, +$56). Yet for some reason, expectations for the Mets were not similarly deflated. This even happened to the Brewers when they added Francisco Rodriguez (really, a setup guy?). There are many more examples of this phenomenon from this season alone (we're not getting into more because: 1. That could give away our plays for the next few days, including tonight and 2. These blogs are long enough). One player can make a significant difference - just not to the degree that most fans and bettors seem to think. Know that we follow every move and do our best to utilize appropriate rosters, lineups and depth charts.

Return from injury - We have made one slight tweak to our data that impacts picks. Research we conducted recently noted the difficulties that many pitchers have in their first starts back from injury (think Erik Bedard from Friday night - and the Red Sox still want him because they know he'll settle back into himself if/when he is truly healthy). In all honesty, this is not surprising. I always say that, if a player could tell us at exactly what health percentage he is playing, there would be no intangibles. The further the player is from 100% (whatever "100%" means for players at the given point in the season), the more our analysis is likely to be off. What is more notable in this case is not that it happens; it is that bettors seem to undervalue this situation. As we just noted above, the betting public is far more apt to overplay an obvious occurrence to the point that the opposite makes sense, but that does not seem to be the case here (based on our research at least). We have made the tweaks to the engine that we feel are warranted and look forward to (hopefully) exploiting this opportunity in the future.

Projecting the Rest of the Season
Taking advantage of our ability to simulate the rest of the season (which is launching as weekly free content for football season), below are the projected final regular season standings. As you can see, the most likely division winners are the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants, with the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves as the most likely Wild Card winners. Five of the six division winners win by more than four games. The only truly intriguing race according to the numbers is in the AL Central with Detroit and the Chicago White Sox separated by 3.1 games (Cleveland is within six games of the top as well) and with the second place team in the division essentially out of the Wild Card race. Other races, particularly in the NL Central, may be close in the standings now, yet should see a team break away in the next few weeks. When it is all said and done, the World Series STILL looks like a great matchup between the Phillies and Red Sox.

Projected Standings (based on rest of 2011 MLB season played 50,000 times)

AL East

Team Avg. Wins Avg. Losses
Boston Red Sox 98.5 63.5
New York Yankees 96.7 65.3
Tampa Bay Rays 82.9 79.1
Toronto Blue Jays 82.3 79.7
Baltimore Orioles 65.9 96.1

AL Central

Team Avg. Wins Avg. Losses
Detroit Tigers 85.9 76.1
Chicago White Sox 82.8 79.2
Cleveland Indians 80.0 82.0
Minnesota Twins 74.8 87.2
Kansas City Royals 68.0 94.0

AL West

Team Avg. Wins Avg. Losses
Texas Rangers 90.1 71.9
Los Angeles Angels 84.8 77.2
Oakland Athletics 75.5 86.5
Seattle Mariners 70.8 91.2

NL East

Team Avg. Wins Avg. Losses
Philadelphia Phillies 100.0 62.0
Atlanta Braves 93.0 69.0
New York Mets 80.8 81.2
Florida Marlins 78.6 83.4
Washington Nationals 77.2 84.8

NL Central

Team Avg. Wins Avg. Losses
Milwaukee Brewers 88.9 73.1
St. Louis Cardinals 84.5 77.5
Cincinnati Reds 81.5 80.5
Pittsburgh Pirates 80.5 81.5
Chicago Cubs 67.7 94.3
Houston Astros 55.0 107.0

NL West

Team Avg. Wins Avg. Losses
San Francisco Giants 91.8 70.2
Arizona Diamondbacks 86.4 75.6
Colorado Rockies 81.0 81.0
Los Angeles Dodgers 72.7 89.3
San Diego Padres 71.5 90.5

As a reminder, August MLB and Full Season Football packages are currently available in the Shop.

As usual, if you have any of your own comments about this article or suggestions about how to improve the site, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time. We respond to every support contact as quickly as we can (usually within a few hours) and are very amenable to suggestions. I firmly believe that open communication with our customers and user feedback is the best way for us to grow and provide the types of products that will maximize the experience for all. Thank you in advance for your suggestions, comments and questions.