2012 MLB Over/Unders – September Update

The baseball season is upon us!  Actually its been upon us longer than the amount of time Columbus needed to find the New World…3 times longer than that actually.  But the sports marathon known as the MLB season is finally in its homestretch and,as the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves of 2011 know, September surprises are always abound!  More importantly, while the days of March and its pre-season prognostications and assumptions have now gone the way of the pre-Columbian culture, the records remain.  The 500 Section MLB Gambling Committee’s prognostications for Over/Under win totals are still in full effect.  Tony’s (aka Bill Barnwell) mid-season surge has given way to the surprising correct forecasts of everyone’s favorite mid-Atlantic baseball predictor, Steve Bailey.  And much like their real life favorite teams in New York and Baltimore, this looks like a race to game 162.  Given that there’s no way the Los Angeles Guggenheims are bailing out Committee Chair Mik Bodnar, the committee officially concedes to the East Coasters in the arena of MLB forecasting.

So what happened since our last check up a month before the All-Star break?  Here are you winners and losers (literally) of the 2nd half:

Number of Correct Predictions (Season Total as of Sept. 6):

– Mik Bodnar: 13 (-1)

– Tony Colarusso: 15 (-3)

– Steve Bailey: 15 (+1)

Top 5 Largest Decreases in Projected Wins from June to Sept:

1. Cleveland Indians: -18  (87 –> 69)

2(t). Miami Marlins: -17  (88 –> 71)

2(t).  Los Angeles Dodgers: -17  (103 –> 86)

4(t). New York Mets: -12  (89 –> 77)

4(t). Toronto Blue Jays: -12  (85 –> 73)

Top 5 Largest Increases in Projected Wins from June to Sept:

1. San Diego Padres: +22 (53 –> 75)

2. Oakland Athletics: +18 (73 –> 91)

3. Detroit Tigers: +13 (74 –> 87)

4. Seattle Mariners: +8 (71 –> 79)

5(t). Chicago Cubs: +7 (54 –> 61)

5(t). Cincinnati Reds: +7 (90 –> 97)

Top 5 Largest Swings for the Better between Opening O/U and Projected at Season’s End (as of Sept 6):

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

2. Oakland Athletics +19 (72 –> 91)

3. Chicago White Sox: +13.5  (74.5 –> 88)

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: +12.5 (73.5 –> 86)

5. Washington Nationals: +10.5  (83.5 –> 100)

Top 5 Largest Swings for the Worse between Opening O/U and Projected at Season’s End (as of Sept 6):

1. Boston Red Sox: -16 (90 –> 74)

2. Philadelphia Phillies: -15.5 (93.5 –> 78)

3. Colorado Rockies: -14.5 (81.5 –> 67)

4(t). Miami Marlins: -13.5 (84.5 –> 71)

4(t). Chicago Cubs: -13.5 (74.5 –> 61)

The Status Quo Teams

10 teams saw their June-Sept win totals change by only 2 games or not even at all (win change; June projection -> Sept. Projection)

Atlanta Braves: +0 (91 -> 91)

Baltimore Orioles: +0 (91 -> 91)

Colorado Rockies: -2 (69 -> 67)

Kansas City Royals: +2 (71 -> 73)

Minnesota Twins: +2 (64 -> 66)

New York Yankees: +2 (90 -> 92)

Philadelphia Phillies: +1 (77 -> 78)

Pittsburgh Pirates: +2 (84 -> 86)

San Francisco Giants: -1 (92 -> 91)

Tampa Bay Rays: -2 (91 -> 89)

The fact that 10 teams (1/3 of the entire league) were pretty much on the same path to destiny in June as they are now does wonders for the argument that the baseball season should be 162 freaking games long.  Then again, where would these teams get those billion $ TV contracts for an TV unfriendly sport?  One day, Mitt Romney needs to explain to me baseball economics.


So I was going to write in this section about the Vegas O/U line is not being an indicator of how many wins a team will accumulate over the season, but the best figure to ensure public money is evened out on both sides, and then see how close to the pin our gambling underworld friends actually were.  But then I looked at the numbers and saw that of 30 teams, only 5 teams were within 4 projected wins of their O/U win opening number.  How was this possible?  How could Vegas be so far off on so many teams?  As of Sept. 6, the projected win totals were on average +/- 9 games off their O/U figure.  Since that’s a difference of 90 wins or 72 wins, in MLB terms that’s not the greatest indicator of prognostication.  But of course, I had to remember the goal of predicting money placement and not win totals.  Sports books are not in the business of being baseball analysts and talent scouts, but in the business of making the house rich.  And apparently its not that hard to make the house rich.  So a little analysis of the O/U opening lines was in order.  When looking at the figures as a whole, it looks like the bookies took the time to nitpick each team and analyze its most accurate win total.  And a lot of times it makes sense, for example with Houston at 64 and the Yankees at 93.  And the numbers lined up look like a practice in statistical variation.  But upon further analysis, the average of all the O/U numbers turns out to be: 81.  The win total of a .500 team in MLB? 81.  So taking the league as a whole, all the money coming into the book is most likely going to even out as they’ve set the overall O/U at 81, ensuring money on both sides of the line.  So really its just a practice of starting every team at 81 then moving wins/loses evenly between good/bad teams.  All a bookie would need to do is look up the previous year’s standings, one page of off-season player movement highlights and their good to go with their “forecasts”.  As always, don’t trust a Vegas bookie any further than you’d trust a Vegas stripper.


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