Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Monday, May 21, 2018 at 1:00 PM
I’m always surprised by how many public bettors never really noticed that the most expensive money line prices in Major League Baseball come in games with low Over/Unders. You almost never see a -300 favorite in a game that’s expected to see 9.5 runs or more. Why is that?
The most obvious reason is that high prices are usually tagged to an elite starting pitcher. And, any game involving an elite starting pitcher isn’t going to have a high total. But, it’s also because it’s much harder for any team to dominate a game that’s projected to be high scoring compared to one that’s going to be low scoring.
A team winning 3-2 scores 60% of the runs
A team winning 5-4 scores only 56% of the runs
A team winning 9-8 scores only 53% of the runs
Those are all one-run victories. But, a low scoring one-run game features more dominance in scoring differential percentage-wise. That’s why the math guys will get a really big money line grading for low scoring one-run games, but will show a virtual pick-em in high scoring one-run games.
Or, you’ll commonly see teams priced around -250 to -300 in the NL with a total of seven, but not with a total of 9 or more unless Clayton Kershaw is pitching in Colorado and the Rockies called up a minor league to face him. In the American League with the DH, the scale increases by about a run.
The danger for casual bettors is that they’ll see an Over/Under of 7 in that type of game (or 8 in the AL), and assume it’s going to be a virtual coin flip because “anything can happen” in a low scoring game. If the underdog catches a late break, it can turn what looked like a probable 2-1 loss into a 3-2 win.
*They’ll avoid ace pitchers as favorites, saying “I just can’t lay a price that high in a game that should go right down to the wire.”
*They’ll take shots on big underdogs hoping fate smiles on them.
The problem with both of those is that the human brain is terrible at estimating win percentages in extreme situations. While it can be square to lay -220 in a baseball game, occasionally the “real” number should be closer to -300. There’s actually value in laying a high price if you have an edge with your starting pitcher AND a bullpen that can keep the door slammed shut in the last three innings AND an offense that’s going to get something on the board.
That favorite is likely to score 60 to 75% of the runs in the game, possibly ALL of them if the opponent is so bad offensively that it could get shut out.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard several pundits talking about how the lines are way too high for Luis Severino of the Yankees. He was -260 this past weekend on the road at Kansas City. Just prior, -290 at home vs. Oakland and -220 vs. powerful Boston. Yet, the Yankees won those three games by a combined 17-7 score, to move to 9-1 in Severino’s 10 starts this season. Based on that, the Yanks should be -900 when he pitches!
Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Baseball doesn’t create 90% win scenarios that will hold up over a large sampling. But, the way the sport is played right now DOES create win scenarios for teams with the best bullpens that might be higher than what the market is giving them credit for. THAT’S what you have to be careful of. You have to allow yourself to bet favorites who really do have the decks stacked in their favor with these new bullpen standards. At the very least, don’t fade them all thinking you’re “getting the best of it.”
Fade big favorites who:
*Have mediocre or worse bullpens
*Have inconsistent offenses
*Are showing other signs of being overrated (as the Dodgers were for weeks)
You can still consider big favorites who check off the boxes we discussed earlier (elite starting pitcher, great bullpen, consistently productive offense). Remember that a combination of a pricey favorite with a low Over/Under isn’t signaling an “anything can happen” game, but rather one where the favorite is going to have the bulk of scoring opportunities.
We’ll talk more baseball through the summer. High priced favorites become a larger part of the daily itinerary when more bad teams start napping through the dog days. Smart bettors have to pick their spots to find real value whether it’s with favorites or dogs.
You can purchase daily BEST BETS from your friend in Las Vegas right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about long term packages that offer the best value. Those are available for the NBA, or for Major League Baseball.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with another report from Las Vegas at the end of the week. Hard to describe how giddy my home city is right now with the Vegas Golden Knights making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Many of you live in cities where the hometown team has won a championship. That’s never happened here at the professional level. And, it’s been a long time since UNLV ruled the college basketball world. I hope your bets bring you as much joy as Vegas is experiencing this month!