Knowing the Percentages in Baseball
Now that college basketball has ended, it's time for students here in my Advanced College of Sports Betting and Handicapping to focus on Major League Baseball and the NBA. I'll wait to talk about pro basketball until the playoffs arrive. There are so many garbage games right now in the NBA that it's barely worth your effort…unless you can devote hours every day to studying how backups perform and how coaches change their rotations based on the needs of the moment. Let's wait for the playoffs until the best players in the world are all trying to win a championship.
Major League Baseball in April has its own issues with intensity. It's the beginning of a long season. That means there's no "sense of urgency" to get results out of the gate. But, at least you know that pitchers are trying to get outs, and hitters are trying to get the offense going. In the NBA, too many franchises are trying to lose for draft position!
Probably the biggest key that jumps out at me early in this new season is the tendency for oddsmakers and the general public to ask too much of the elite teams. You probably know that the 2018 season is supposed to lack drama because there are clear favorites in every division.
*Washington is supposed to dominate the NL East
*The Chicago Cubs are supposed to do the same in the NL Central
*The Los Angeles Dodgers reached historic highs last year, and are still loaded
*Boston and the New York Yankees are the only teams that matter in the AL East
*Cleveland is still running parallel to the Cubs in terms of Central division dominance
*Houston has a chance to be better this year than when it won the World Series last October
Regular Season Win Totals in the Las Vegas betting markets suggested ONE divisional race (AL East), and not much of interest for the Wildcards because the contenders were so far off the pack. Maybe that will change with somebody like the LA Angels or St. Louis Cardinals making a jump forward. But, for now, there are clear have's and have not's.
Unfortunately for square bettors, a few of the have's are off to slower than expected starts.
*LA Dodgers: 2-4, minus more than 5 betting units
*Chicago Cubs: 2-3, minus about 3.5 betting units
*Cleveland Indians: 2-3, minus 2 betting units
Both the Cubs and Indians did this last season…played poorly out of the gate to cost their backers a fortune. But, each righted their ship down the stretch to win their divisions. The Dodgers have had surprising trouble on offense. They're priced like World Champions whenever they take the field (especially with Clayton Kershaw), so any losses are very costly to your bankroll. Think about how expensive a team must be to lose five units when only two games below .500 in a week of action!
Your homework this week is to memorize this chart. You must absorb in the fullest what it takes to break-even at the major price points in baseball money lines.
Again, those are BREAK-EVEN points. You don't make any money if teams play to those levels. If you're thinking "this -150 favorite can win 60% of the time," that's not doing you any good. Nobody pays the bills by breaking even. You have to be thinking "this -150 favorite is going to win WAY more than 60% of the time."
And, when you see huge numbers with those biggest favorites, you must make the case that they're going to win that game 80% or 90% of the time. Do you know how rare that is in Major League Baseball? A team so dominant that it's going to win in a given situation 80% or 90% of the time?
A team that finishes the season 110-52 only wins 68% of the time. And, that's a fantastic level or performance we don't see very often. A record of 100-62, clear greatness, is just a 62% win rate.
Now, we may be early in a season where records do skew to extremes. Too many teams are embracing "the process" made famous in the NBA by the Philadelphia 76ers, but started even earlier by the Houston Astros in this very sport. It's okay to be horrible for a few seasons if it eventually allows you to contend for a championship. Having 1-2 teams like that won't skew records. Having 8-10 teams like that might make it much easier for the super-powers to make a run at 100-105 wins. That said, the percentages for profit don't change. Going 100-62 loses money if you're -175 every time you take the field.
I'm looking forward to talking baseball with you in our coursework through the spring and summer. If you'd like additional assistance on a daily basis, KELSO STURGEON'S BEST BETS can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the office by calling 1-800-755-2255 during normal business hours. I do have great rates for extended packages that go through the NBA Playoffs, the MLB all-star break, or the full baseball season.
The Dean of Sports Handicapping is honored that you keep attending class so enthusiastically week after week. And he expects you to have that win-percentage chart memorized by the next time we get together! See you next week at this very same time.