2012 MLB Over/Unders – June Update

Before the start of the 2012 MLB season, in-house baseball expert Tony Colarusso, in-house gambling expert Miklos Bodnar and in-house Baltimore Orioles fan Steve Bailey took upon themselves to scrutinize the Las Vegas odds for Over/Under win totals for each of the MLB franchises.  And yes, I am aware that I semi-used myself in the third person in the last sentence.  Upon close inspection, predictions were given based upon both each team’s 2011 performance and their expected rosters/abilities to determine the expected win totals after the 2012 slog/marathon/Bataan Death March otherwise known as the MLB season.  While some usual suspects were given a vote of uniform confidence, such as the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies giving their best Charlotte Bobcats impersonations while drinking the local Jonestown Kool-Aid for the Washington Nationals making a leap to .500 relevancy, most cases were not a clear cut decision.  A particular declaration by some predictors that the Baltimore Orioles would have less wins than games in a NBA locked-out season met particular consternation from the in-house O’s fan, something not seen since a Russian tennis player was locked out of a semi-faux bracket.

Two months later and one-third of the way through the season, it looks like none of us were smarter than a coin-flip.  Given the current trend of the season, the possibility of a Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Baltimore Orioles World Series (Hello 1966 re-match!) will no longer be as unlikely as a Buffalo Bills vs. Philadelphia Eagles SB match-up or a Mitt Romney vs. Poo Poo Platter GOP primary season (Actually that 2nd one actually happened.  Since I don’t have footnotes, I’ll go on a tangent and say that of a group with about 100 million semi-/official members, the GOP throwing out those candidates was on par with the NFL using replacement players from the GOP primary candidates field.  Really?  That’s the best they could come up with out of ONE HUNDRED MILLION MEMBERS!  Even the Democrats threw around a Jerry Brown once upon a 1992).

Back to the baseball, as you can see from the chart above, the figures compared are the opening O/U lines, where the team currently sits relative to that winning % and where their projected win total will be after game 162.  Here is a rundown of the numbers:

Number of Correct Predictions:

– Mik Bodnar: 14

– Tony Colarusso: 18

– Steve Bailey: 14

Of the 13 teams the Opening O/U Projected to Increase their 2011 Win Total, only 6 are on pace to actually match or go over (2011 wins; O/U; 2012 projected wins):

Baltimore Orioles (69; 69.5; 91)

Cincinnati Reds (79; 87; 90)

Miami Marlins (72; 84.5; 88)

Pittsburgh Pirates (72; 73.5; 84)

San Francisco Giants (86; 87.5; 92)

Washington Nationals (80; 83.5; 94)

Of the 15 teams the Opening O/U Projected to Decrease from their 2011 Win Total, 6 are on pace to actually match or go under (2011 wins; O/U; 2012 projected wins):

Arizona Diamondbacks (94; 86.5; 77)

Detroit Tigers (95; 92.5; 74)

Milwaukee Brewers (96; 84.5; 74)

New York Yankees (97; 93; 90)

Philadelphia Phillies (102; 93.5; 77)

St. Louis Cardinals (90; 84.5; 84)

Top 6 Largest Swings for the Better between Opening O/U and Projected at Season’s End:

1. (t) Baltimore Orioles: +21.5  (69.5 –> 91)

1. (t) Los Angeles Dodgers: +21.5  (81.5 –> 103)

3. New York Mets: +17  (72 –> 89)

4. Chicago White Sox: +16.5  (74.5 –> 91)

5. (t) Washington Nationals: + 10.5  (83.5 –> 94)

5. (t) Pittsburgh Pirates: +10.5 (73.5 –> 84)

Top 6 Largest Swings for the Worse between Opening O/U and Projected at Season’s End:

1. (t) Chicago Cubs: -20.5  (74.5 –> 54)

1. (t) San Diego Padres: -20.5  (73.5 –> 53)

3. Detroit Tigers: -18.5  (92.5 –> 74)

4. Philadelphia Phillies: -16.5  (93.5 –> 77)

5. Colorado Rockies: -12.5  (81.5 –> 69)

6. Anaheim Angels: -11.5  (92.5 –> 81)

Since Vegas O/U’ers are a practice in surprises and expectations, it is easy to spot why each of the large swingers in our field have gone the way they did.  To start with the surprises, it easy to point to good pitching propelling each of these teams (except the New York Metropolitans despite their FINALLY no-no by Santana) as they are all in the top 13 of team pitching in the entire league, with Washington, LA, and Pittsburgh in the top 4.  Meanwhile, while expectations were not high for Chicago and San Diego anyways, their falls might reveal a surrender on the part of the bureau de avant as opposed to a Vegas misfire.  That being said, the offensive to-be boppers in Detroit (see: Fielder, Prince), Anaheim (see: Pujols, Albert “Formerly of the ability to play baseball”), and Philadelphia (Services for the Howard, Utley, Rollins Big Three will be held on September 29th) didn’t come through in the SABR clutch, although Anaheim seems to have righted the ship a bit.  Still, given that those 3 teams are on the hook for those 5 players for $582 million starting in 2013 till the end of their respective contracts, I’m still a bit shocked that the EU/Germany haven’t sent over their wunder-checks to these teams a the Greece, Spain, and Italy of the MLB.  One takeaway that can be said to the Vegas number crunchers is that they probably expect the public to take into account big offseason signings in their win total bets.  Since the Free Agent signings that receive most attention are the big hitters with their big offensive stats, its no surprise that the offensive teams were a little over-rated while teams with deep, yet unknown pitching staffs were undervalued.  There is probably a 8,839 word explanation for this occurrence using advanced Sabermetric stats, but since my ears start bleeding after WAR, let’s move on.

We’ll have another update at the 2/3 season mark to see what teams hit the 2nd half wall otherwise known as “Playing in Camden Yards” and whether Matt Kemp will be done saving poor, starving children in South Sudan and Somalia and come back to playing baseball.  Until then, enjoy napping to the white noise more commonly known as the MLB Network and play ball!


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