Submitted by Richie B. Oddsmakers Consensus on Friday, July 6, 2018 at 4:00 PM
All Major League teams have played more than 81 games, which means we’re in the second half of the 2018 season. That makes it a good time to review what surprised sharps (professional wagerers) in the first half of the season.
The biggest surprise would have to be the number of “second-tier” teams who have made a run at their divisions while earning profits against the betting line. Everyone expected the usual powers to dominate. Washington, the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston, the New York Yankees, Cleveland, and Houston were all expected to clear 90 wins. Only the Nats have stumbled. It’s this next group that caught the Wise Guys a little flat-footed.
I’m not going to suggest that NOBODY saw those surges coming. But, truth be told, most sharps weren’t expecting those teams to be as good as they turned out to be in the first half of the season. It’s one thing to think Seattle or Milwaukee might be “under-valued.” It’s another to anticipate that the Mariners would be up 22 units, the Brewers up 16 units entering this weekend’s action.
The second biggest surprise was that scoring dropped off so much in the first half of the season. Baseball was so high scoring last season after a change in ball construction that sharps were expecting more of the same. Fans and TV viewers love home runs! Would the league dare switch back to a ball that doesn’t carry as far? The league DID do that, which meant market totals were too high out of the gate.
Sharps, particularly the quants who keep track of ball flight analytics and the like, reacted pretty quickly. Even if they lost a bit in the first few weeks because the math was off, they made that up and more by adjusting before the market did. The only sharps to sustain losses with totals were the old-school guys who had decided pitching had become horrible and hitters would keep blasting home runs all over the place. Even they threw in the towel by mid-May.
The third biggest surprise was that the Tampa Bay Rays experiment with their pitching rotation would work out so well. I don’t think I talked to anybody who thought it was a great idea to begin with. Sure, some thought it wouldn’t crash and burn…because the analytics guys know that a better use of bullpens was long overdue. But, posting the best ERA in baseball since the change…while in the American League where offenses use the designated hitter… playing in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox?! No way did even the sharpest knife in the drawer see THAT coming. A few guys have been cleaning up lately with Unders. Those sharps are also winning a lot of Unders in Yankees games because of New York’s great bullpen.
One of the important keys you need to remember about the sharp/square divide is the fact that sharps DON’T know everything! They don’t win 100% of their bets. They get surprised too. The Wise Guys are better at recognizing changes and beating the market to the punch after they happen. Squares (the public) tend to be stubborn, and figure there’s no way a surprise will continue.
Many public bettors STILL don’t believe in Seattle, and don’t bet them much. Sharps who recognized improvement maybe made 10 units of profit rather than the full 22 put on the board by the Mariners.
Many public bettors STILL keep betting the Washington Nationals at high prices, figuring the team will get things turned around eventually. The Nats are down about 16.5 units this season! Sharps were never even on that bandwagon because there’s rarely value on perceived powers.
Think about how those two work together. Sharps didn’t lose any money when overpriced Washington was a disappointment…and stepped in to ride the Mariners early enough to profit. Squares keep throwing money at the Nats while never believing in the Mariners. Multiply that by a few surprises rather than just one…and then by all the betting sports rather than just baseball, and that’s why sharps live in very nice houses while squares dream of being sharps.
As we head deeper into the second half of the MLB season, think about what other surprises might be about to happen. Are there any teams near the .500 mark who might catch fire (Colorado, San Francisco, Tampa Bay) and turn into “the Seattle” of July, August and September? Are there any other teams like Cincinnati who started the season horribly but began offering value after some changes were made?
Look for those! Or, you’ll never see them.
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