An Under trend uncovered in Cincinnati

July 20, 2019 01:20 AM

In a Major League baseball season that’s seen high-scoring slugfests become the norm, an “Under” trend has snuck under the radar and stayed there as we approach the 100-game mark.

Betting markets have greatly overestimated run-scoring potential in Cincinnati Reds’ games. The offense has been a disappointment. An unheralded starting rotation has been surprisingly strong (Reds starters have the fifth-best ERA and xFIP in MLB). And in a year where everyone’s complaining about bullpens, nobody’s whining about Reds relievers (sixth lowest batting average allowed). 

Through Thursday night’s action, Cincinnati’s games had gone 58-33-3 to the Under. That’s 64% winners on decisions (throwing out the pushes), and plus 21.7 betting units if you assume a standard 10% vigorish on losses. 

Some trends hold for a few weeks, then regress. Cincinnati’s first seven games of the season stayed Under as did 18 of their first 22. An extreme 82% rate did slow down, but not enough to prevent betting Unders from being a winning strategy. 

In fact, the Reds have played 26 Unders their last 36 games. That record includes two of three Overs at altitude in Colorado. VSiN has alerted you to the magnification of the “Coors effect” with aerodynamically friendly baseballs. When not playing at the run-scoring paradise of Coors Field, the Reds have played 25 Unders in their last 33 games 

How long will this continue? Until the market adjusts! 

Or, until there’s some kind of change in performance. Maybe Reds pitchers can’t keep it going. Maybe hitters will catch up to league average in slugging percentage. Know that Cincinnati’s home stadium isn’t reducing scoring. The Great American Ball Park current ranks in the top 10 of hitters’ parks. Red pitchers are posting those stellar stats in a relative bandbox. 

Should you be betting Unders in every Reds game? The important thing to remember is that you should evaluate each game as it comes. Don’t just bet trends assuming some “angle” is hot. And, don’t kneejerk the other direction figuring it’s due to cool off.  Sports betting isn’t roulette. And you can’t beat roulette with those approaches anyway. 

Yes, Reds games have been staying Under to an extreme degree. But, if oddsmakers suddenly dropped their game totals down to 6.5, it would obviously be dumb to keep “riding” Under bets. 

Before every game, evaluate the skill sets of the starting pitchers (we recommend xFIP from fangraphs.com).  Evaluate the most likely relievers to see action. Evaluate the offenses. And try to determine the impact that the home ballpark and weather conditions will have on run production. 

Then see if the posted odds (money line and Over/Under) properly capture game expectations. 

Often short-term trends are just trivial flukes that don’t mean anything. Too much current-day baseball handicapping is just arranging trivia into something that sounds meaningful. But sometimes the market really is missing a new reality. Betting smart means figuring out the difference and investing accordingly.

 

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