2 MLB trends that could pay the bills

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

July 24, 2018 11:58 PM

Two huge trends in Major League Baseball stay hot…in the same stadium! Plus, the latest on the pennant races and the WNBA in Wednesday’s edition of VSiN City. 

MLB Trendsetters: Cleveland home games now 31-8-3 to the Over after Pirates win 11th in a row

VSiN’s Sam Panayotovich alerted viewers to a very strong Over/Under trend before the All-Star Break. After a washout Monday (Over/Under bets are refunded in rain-shortened finishes), Overs at Progressive Field are now 31-8-3 the last 42 games. 

Progressive continues to grade out as another “Colorado of the American League” along with Globe Life Park in Arlington in terms of its 2018 impact on offense. That’s out of character from recent seasons, though it has been a bit of a hitter’s park in the past. Never like this!

Cleveland home games: 33-16-3 to the Over

Cleveland road games: 20-27-1 to the Under

Tuesday’s Over was never in doubt. Pittsburgh lit up Shane Bieber early, building a 7-1 in the top of the second inning. That helped launch the Pirates to an incredible eleventh victory in a row. Pittsburgh is back in the pennant picture.

Pittsburgh (plus 150) 9, Cleveland 4

Total Bases Plus Walks: Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 19

Starting Pitchers: Musgrove 7 IP, 2 ER, Bieber 1.2 IP, 7 ER

Bullpen: Pittsburgh 2 IP, 2 ER, Cleveland 7.1 IP, 2 ER

Pittsburgh is 5-0 since the All-Star Break, despite playing all five games on the road against teams who were either playing well at the time (Cincinnati) or are heading to the playoffs (Cleveland). How about these scoring totals? We’re looking at 12-6-9-7-9 in succession…and the seven came in a rain-shortened game. Before the ASB, it was a rhythmic 2-6-7-2-6-7 in a win over Washington and five straight over Milwaukee. 

Pirates now 53-49 on the season, with sights set on a wild-card chase. Cleveland falls to 54-46, in a division it can win by sleepwalking through a .500 season. 

NL Tuesday: Arizona beats the Cubs again, Brewers beat the Nats again

Let’s see how Arizona and Milwaukee made it two straight over Chicago and Washington.

Arizona (plus 150) 5, Chicago Cubs 1 

Total Bases Plus Walks: Arizona 19, Chicago 12

Starting Pitchers: Buchholz 6.2 IP, 1 ER, Hendricks 5 IP, 3 ER

Bullpen: Arizona 2.1 IP, 0 ER, Chicago 4 IP, 1 ER

Maybe bettors (and newsletter writers) should have been paying more attention to the fact that eight of Chicago’s recent wins came against the likes of San Diego, Detroit, and Minnesota. Going 8-0 against MLB dregs may not mean you’re playing great baseball! And taking three of five at home against St. Louis may not have meant much given the Cards lethargic split so far at Cincinnati.

Arizona brought playoff intensity to Wrigley Field this week, and has been rewarded with two easy wins on a combined 12-2 scoreboard tally. That pushes the Diamondbacks to 56-46 for the season. Chicago falls to 58-42 at the 100-game mark. Cubs are 15-7 their last 22, which is 7-7 if you throw out the games against the Padres, Tigers, and Twins. Obviously, analysts can’t just do stuff like that haphazardly. Chicago is having trouble getting consistent clearance against opponents that aren’t bad teams. Important to remember if the market is going to keep assigning Chicago high prices against quality.  

Milwaukee (-140) 5, Washington 4 (in 10 innings) 

Total Bases Plus Walks: Washington 14, Milwaukee 21

Starting Pitchers: Hellickson 5 IP, 3 ER, Guerra 6 IP, 1 ER

Bullpen: Washington 4.2 IP, 2 ER, Milwaukee 4 IP, 0 ER

Bryce Harper was a late scratch (though he was used a pinch hitter). Washington jumped ahead 4-0 in the top of the second anyway, but couldn’t hold the lead. Tailspin continues. Washington is now 16-29 its last 45 games, which is a sustained horror show for a supposed championship contender. Might as well be the Mets! Full season record is 49-51, way below what was expected at the 100-game mark. Milwaukee is 58-46, two-games behind the Cubs in the NL Central. 

AL Tuesday: Masa-hero! Tanaka shuts out Tampa Bay as Yanks get a game back on Boston

The New York Yankees were badly in need of a big pitching performance. Masahiro Tanaka to the rescue. 

NY Yankees (-185) 4, Tampa Bay 0 

Total Bases Plus Walks: New York 11, Tampa Bay 5

Starting Pitchers: Tanaka 9 IP, 0 ER, Chirinos 6.2 IP, 3 ER

Bullpen: New York 0 IP, 0 ER, Tampa Bay 2.1 IP, 1 ER

Tanaka threw a complete-game shutout on only 105 pitches, managing nine strikeouts in the process. The Yanks didn’t exactly explode on offense, with just 11 offensive bases. Enough to get the job done. 

New York gets a game back in the race with Boston, as the Red Sox were stunned by Baltimore. Yanks now only five behind. Still, just a 14-13 record their last 27 games. Tampa Bay steps back to 48-38 since a bad start, 17-10 its last 27 outings. 

WNBA: Eight teams close out “first half” of season in advance of Saturday’s All-Star game 

We’re fast approaching the WNBA All-Star break. Four games Tuesday night. Just one Wednesday before a rest break that lasts until Tuesday July 31. Let’s run Tuesday’s results in Nevada rotation order…

Connecticut (-5.5) 94, Washington 68 

2-point Pct: Washington 51%, Connecticut 58%

3-pointers: Washington 4/26, Connecticut 9/16

Free Throws: Washington 8/9, Connecticut 7/8

Rebounds: Washington 26, Connecticut 39

Turnovers: Washington 9, Connecticut 13

Sharp steam on the favorite was on the money as underdog Washington barely put forth an effort after the first quarter in a blowout loss. Connecticut won the last three quarters 75-42! In all basketball, two-point defense and team rebounding are “effort” stats. You can see Washington allowed a lot of easy buckets inside while getting crushed on the boards. Turned into a rout when the Sun also hit their three-pointers. 

Connecticut moves to 14-12 in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind Washington at 14-11. 

Seattle (-11.5) 92, Indiana 72

2-point Pct: Seattle 56%, Indiana 36%

3-pointers: Seattle 12/28, Indiana 5/17

Free Throws: Seattle 8/11, Indiana 13/15

Rebounds: Seattle 39, Indiana 41

Turnovers: Seattle 12, Indiana 9

Complete mismatch, as surging Seattle toyed with the worst team in the WNBA. That’s plus 20 percent inside the arc, and plus 21 points on treys. Why bother trying to draw fouls if you’re getting that many open looks?

Seattle moves to 19-7 on the season, and 8-2-1 against the spread its last 11 games. Indiana falls to 3-23, and looks to be getting worse with each passing game. Fever just 2-11 ATS their last 13 despite it being no secret that the team was bad. Players may have tuned out head coach Pokey Chatman. Horrible ATS stretches like this often precede the firing of a head coach. 

Minnesota (-12.5) 85, New York 82 

2-point Pct: New York 52%, Minnesota 49%

3-pointers: New York 8/29, Minnesota 3/19

Free Throws: New York 12/13, Minnesota 20/31

Rebounds: New York 40, Minnesota 37

Turnovers: New York 14, Minnesota 7

Minnesota is having a lot of trouble getting focused for some of its games against bad teams. Now 1-3 ATS as double digit favorites this season, 2-7 ATS as favorites of -8 or more. Didn’t help that the Lynx shot just 3 of 19 on treys. But, they were out-rebounded while allowing better than 50% on two-point shooting to a slumper from the East. 

Minnesota is 15-10 straight up for the season, well below par for a projected dominating force in the league. New York falls to 7-18 despite an increase in intensity here. 

Atlanta (plus 4) 81, Los Angeles 71

2-point Pct: Atlanta 53%, Los Angeles 49%

3-pointers: Atlanta 4/13, Los Angeles 5/20

Free Throws: Atlanta 7/12, Los Angeles 14/15

Rebounds: Atlanta 38, Los Angeles 29

Turnovers: Atlanta 11, Los Angeles 12

When will the market take the Atlanta Dream seriously?! This has been a true dream for bettors who recognized the team’s improved play early in this hot run. Atlanta has now covered EIGHT in a row, and 10 of its last 11. That includes double digit covers over Seattle, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Washington, and Connecticut.

Big wins here in two-point shooting and rebounding, which has been a theme this evening. Atlanta won by double digits despite only making four treys and seven free throws. Great stuff in the paint! 

Atlanta moves to 16-9 on the season. Herky-jerky LA is now 15-11, still in a sequence alternating easy covers with awful non-covers. 

We finish this segment with estimated “market” Power Ratings for the WNBA. A little tricky with Connecticut getting more respect than would have been expected against Washington Tuesday. We’ll let that settle itself out next week. Note that Seattle grades out best…but is playing even BETTER than its rating would suggest with all those recent covers. Minnesota continues to get market respect despite less-than-stellar performances. 

86: Seattle 

84: Minnesota

83: Los Angeles

82: Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta

81: Connecticut (home)

80: Washington, Connecticut (road)

78: Las Vegas

76: Chicago

74: New York

72: Indiana

Wednesday tutorial: Quick conversions from point spreads to win percentages

We received a request via email to review a topic of discussion last week on “A Numbers Game.” Jonathan Von Tobel and I talked about how you can turn projected point spreads into an estimate of regular season victories for any team. Here’s an expanded version of the scale we used in that discussion. It gives you the approximate win percentage for key numbers.

Pick-em: 50% win probability

-3: 60% win probability

-7: 70% win probability

-10: 80% win probability

-14: 85% win probability

-17: 90% win probability

-20 or more: a full win

You won’t often see 20-point spreads in the NFL. But, you see that and higher in college football. Many of you will be making college projections soon if you haven’t already done so. We’ll talk about that in our debut article in Biloxi, Mississippi this Thursday…as newspapers across America continue to use VSiN to help guide their local audiences into legalized sports betting. 

Anyway, too many casual bettors just assign simple wins and losses when looking at an advance schedule. “That’s a win…that’s a loss…that’s a close home game, so I’ll call it a win,” and so on. You’ll get much more accurate predictions by assigning partial wins to each team. 

If you expect a team to be about a 3-point favorite in a game, give them six-tenths of a win, and the opponent four-tenths of a win. Even if you make a line as high as -10, don’t give the favorite the full win. Upsets happen at those prices too. Give the favorite eight-tenths of a win, the underdog two-tenths of a win. 

This is why an NFL team that could be favored in all 16 games will still only grade out to 11.5 or 12 wins…and why a team that will be an underdog in all 16 games will still grade out to win around four times. 

See you again Thursday in VSiN City.

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