Submitted by Wayne Root on Monday, July 17, 2017 at 4:00 PM
I’ve talked a lot about the Los Angeles Dodgers this season. They keep doing amazing things! And, right now, the betting markets in Las Vegas and around the world have no idea how to price this team on a day-to-day basis. Prices that seemed expensive in the past may now be bargains whenever the Dodgers take the field.
I know that sounds a bit over-the-top. Las Vegas is a virtual suburb of Los Angeles (a four-hour drive) in terms of media and fan support. Maybe I’m just overreacting to all the local buzz about this team at sportsbooks.
I don’t think so. Consider this…
*The Dodgers currently have a winning percentage of .688 for the season. That’s the equivalent of 111 wins over a 162-game season, and the same as -220 on the betting moneyline. Los Angeles should average about -220 based on their results…but obviously much higher than that at home with their best pitchers.
*The Dodgers are actually better than .688 with their current roster though. The team was treading water early in the season before Cody Bellinger was called up. His explosive hitting helped make the team virtually unbeatable when other puzzle pieces also clicked into place. Los Angeles is 55-18 in the games that Bellinger has started. That’s a win percentage of .753…the equivalent of 122-40 over a full regular season, and roughly the same as -300 on a baseball moneyline. By this measure, the Dodgers should be about -300 on average, but higher when they’re best starters on the mound at home.
*Wait, there’s more! Over the past five weeks, the Dodgers have REALLY clicked. Yes, even better over a decent sample size than what they’ve done in Bellinger’s starts. Los Angeles went from 35-25 in the standings to 64-29 in this morning’s newspaper. That’s 29-4 over 33 games! Are you kidding me?! That’s a win percentage of .879, for a full season record equivalent of 142-20. The right moneyline for that is around -700.
Baseball bettors are used to having something like -175 feel expensive. Certainly -200 makes experienced bettors shy away. If the Dodgers had been -200 in every game during that 29-4 stretch, backers would have made more than 20 betting units. How should oddsmakers price a team that’s THIS dominant? It’s not something we’ve seen in quite a long time.
At least with the New England Patriots or Golden State Warriors, you can lift the pointspreads in a way that reflects the scoreboard. In baseball, it’s not as intuitive. Part of what makes the Dodgers so great is that they can win even when they don’t score a lot of runs. The starting rotation has two Cy Young candidates and no truly bad spots. The bullpen has been elite (often pitching comfortably with big leads, but rising to the occasion in close games).
The “correct” answer for this conundrum is that the Dodgers should be priced on how they’re going to play moving forward. Nobody can realistically expect that they’ll play .750 or .800 ball the rest of the way. There’s no need to maintain that pace if they have a big divisional lead. They can rest key players and give some playing time to youngsters (particularly after the September call-ups).
Are they likely to win 60% of their games (-150 on the moneyline), 67% of their games (-200 on the moneyline), 75% of their games (-300 on the moneyline)? Think in those terms and come up with your answer.
For THE KING OF UNDERDOGS, I’m looking at things from the other direction. When, if at all, should WAYNE ALLYN ROOT be fading the Dodgers for value? Obviously not yet. The Dodgers are crushing people and the lines are too low. I have noticed that there have been more one-run decisions of late than in prior weeks. The cool down is closer to happening. That may open the door for some great dog bets in the near future. Ideally, oddsmakers will start toying with prices around -280 to -300 on a daily basis just when the Dodgers cool down to success in the 60-65% range.
One of the toughest skills for casual sports bettors to develop is the ability to THINK AHEAD rather than focusing on what just happened. Everybody wants to read the stats. Too many want to focus on which pitchers or teams are on streaks. Don’t look in the rearview mirror except to evaluate evidence about how things are developing to shape the future.
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The Dodgers are enjoying what might be a truly historic season. They’re certainly the best team in the National League right now…and are probably the best team in baseball in terms of championship potential because they’re pitching staff is better than Houston’s. You know what that makes the Dodgers? That makes them THE WAYNE ROOT OF BASEBALL!
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