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Dodgers, Astros set fast pace for baseball at the break

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

July 10, 2017 12:03 AM
Aaron Judge has 30 home runs for the Yankees, who rank fourth in MLB with a plus-98 run differential.
© USA Today Sports Images

Back-back-back-back-back to the grindstone for a new week of sports betting coverage featuring the Home Run Derby, the All-Star Game, and tips to sharpen up your handicapping.

MLB-at-the-Break: Dodgers still hottest team in baseball, Astros most profitable

As we head to the All-Star Break, it’s very clear that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros are head and shoulders above their respective leagues. 

* Los Angeles is 24-6 over the last month, against a schedule that included several teams who were playing well until they ran into the Dodgers (Kansas City, Arizona, LA Angels, and Colorado just in the past couple of weeks). LA is also 39-11 its last 50 games, after a pedestrian 22-18 start to the regular season. 

* The Astros have shown the biggest moneyline profit this season according to the standings page at Houston is plus 20.64 betting units after drilling Toronto 19-1 Sunday (the Dodgers are on their heels at plus 18.92 betting units). Houston’s 14-5 run its last 19 games seems kind of lame compared to the tear LAD is on. But, the Astros have also had non-overlapping stretches of 8-1, 14-3, and 13-1 prior to that 14-5 run. Houston’s pedestrian start ended at 4-4 rather than 22-18!

If the playoffs were held today, it would seem unfair to invite anyone but the Dodgers and Astros. Though, Arizona deserves a lot of credit for what they had accomplished up until this past week. A look at run differential makes that clear.

Best MLB Run Differentials at the All-Star Break

  • LA Dodgers plus 163
  • Houston plus 162
  • Arizona plus 102
  • NY Yankees plus 98
  • Washington plus 90
  • Cleveland plus 74
  • Boston plus 65

Only seven teams are better than plus 50 runs. LAD and Houston are in a class by themselves, both at least SIXTY runs better than third place. And, you’ll see in a moment, 120 runs better than ninth place

Other Positive Run Differentials

  • Milwaukee plus 45
  • Colorado plus 42
  • Texas plus 29
  • Tampa Bay plus 16
  • St. Louis plus 13

Some from that group of five will sneak into the playoffs (10 teams qualify for the postseason, and only seven are in the first hunk). But none are currently playing at a level that’s going to scare the Dodgers or Astros. Milwaukee has the best chance of that group to win a division, currently with a 5.5 game lead over both the Cubs and Cardinals in the NL Central. Where are the Cubs?

Even to -50 Run Differentials

  • Chicago Cubs even
  • Seattle -4
  • Miami -19
  • LA Angels -22
  • Kansas City -25
  • Pittsburgh -25
  • Detroit -31
  • Chicago White Sox -32
  • Cincinnati -39
  • Atlanta -44
  • NY Mets -49

The Cubs are lucky they’re in a disappointing division, because they can still rally to dodge a Wildcard play-in and enter the main NL brackets. Everyone else in this group has a lot of work to do while also needing some help. 

Very Poor Run Differentials (-60 or worse)

  • Minnesota -60
  • Toronto -64
  • Baltimore -78
  • Oakland -88
  • Philadelphia -92
  • San Francisco -99
  • San Diego -128

Amazing that Minnesota is still in a divisional race despite getting crushed fairly often. San Diego was supposed to have the worst record in the majors by a good bit. They do have the worst run differential, and are still projected to be a full-season doormat. 

What about money? 

You already know Houston and the LA Dodgers are the most profitable teams. Just below them.

  • 3…Milwaukee plus 17.62 betting units
  • 4…Arizona plus 14.93
  • 5…Colorado plus 14.52

Those five profit powerhouses are on an island by themselves. Nobody else is up six units or better. 

The biggest money losers at the All-Star Break have been San Francisco (-25.51 betting units), Philadelphia (-22.83), the Chicago Cubs (-21.62), Cleveland (-17.98), the NY Mets (-15.62), and Toronto (-14.29).

Because regular season action won’t resume until Friday, we’ll devote a lot of space this week to seeing through some illusions to get as clean a view as possible of the Major League landscape. That will include looking at “road only” stats that help take ballpark influences out of the mix, as well as studying records vs. teams at .500 or better in hopes of exposing pretenders in the Wildcard race. 

Tying up a few loose ends in baseball:

The Arizona “humidor” possibility is still very much in play after a low scoring home series vs. Cincinnati. Two Unders and a push this past weekend, on scoring sums of 9, 7, and 3 (just 6.33 total runs per game!) In Arizona’s first five homestands, they played 35 games which saw teams combine for double digit scoring 63% of the time (22 of 35). It was a true hitting paradise. Since the series beginning with Philadelphia, when we first spotted the possibility of a switch to a humidor for storing baseballs, only 3 out of 13 games (23%) have reached 10 runs or more. 

First 35 home games: 21-12-2 to the Over with an average of 10.2 runs/game

Last 13 home games: 3-8-2 to the Under with an average of 7.9 runs/game

There obviously could be other factors in play, including plain old randomness. But, the fact that Arizona’s management signaled a potential use of a humidor during the season put the topic on our radar. Seems like we should keep it there!

Sunday’s National League games went 3-2-1 to the Over. That doesn’t sound like news…except it ended a streak of SIXTEEN STRAIGHT DAYS where betting the Overs in the Senior circuit lost money. There were 14 outright losing days, and two “even” days (at 2-2, or 2-2-1) that lost juice. With Sunday’s slight nod to the Over, betting Overs in the NL would have yielded a horrendous record of 34-57-10 the past 17 days. The league skewed way Over earlier this season…but the market has more than fully corrected. 

This Wednesday’s “tutorial” discussion will be about trying to exploit potential “arbitrage” situations with MLB moneylines. Thanks for all the positive feedback to our discussions on betting -1.5 run lines and “first 5 inning” lines that ran the past three Wednesdays.  

MLB-at-the-Break: Odds for Monday’s Home Run Derby and Tuesday’s All-Star Game

Though the regular season doesn’t resume until Friday, there is some baseball to bet today and tomorrow. 

We start with Monday’s Home Run Derby. Here are betting odds posted this weekend by the Westgate (percentage win equivalent in parenthesis).

Home Run Derby

  • Giancarlo Stanton 7/4 (36.3% to win)
  • Aaron Judge 9/5 (35.7% to win)
  • Cody Bellinger 10/1 (9% to win)
  • Mike Moustakas 12/1 (8% to win for the rest)
  • Miguel Sano 12/1
  • Charlie Blackmon 12/1
  • Justin Bour 12/1
  • Gary Sanchez 12/1

Obviously, the percentage chances to win add up to way over 100%. Sportsbooks bake a form of vigorish into futures prices to create a house edge. 

Stanton is the defending champ, and is expected to be heavily bet playing in his home park. Judge is the Babe Ruth of 2017, another obvious betting choice. That sets up some nice potential payoffs on very talented longshots. 

The first betting line for Tuesday’s All-Star Game went up Sunday evening offshore. Respected and others posted National League -115, with a total of 9. By the time you read this, Las Vegas sports books will have their numbers up as well…and either the side or total may have moved from early action. 

Look for plenty of Home Run Derby and All-Star chatter on all VSiN broadcasts Monday and Tuesday! 

CFL: Calgary establishing its championship bona fides three weeks into season

The Calgary Stampeders were a virtually unanimous preseason choice as favorites to win the Grey Cup. Three games into the new campaign, two wins and a tie vs. a competitive schedule have done nothing to slow down the bandwagon. They’re the team to beat.

Let’s run through this past weekend’s results in schedule order, focusing on the key indicator stats we’ll be using to hunt for sports betting value north of the border. 

Week 3 Stat Summaries

British Columbia (-3.5) won at Montreal 23-16

  • Total Yards: British Columbia 342, Montreal 334
  • Yards-per-Play: British Columbia 5.7, Montreal 6.5

Montreal performed better on a per-play basis. But, the Alouettes have a knack for doing that in the middle of the field before they have to punt. They’ve actually won YPP in all three games, but have scored just 17, 19, and 16 thus far. The road favorites played a much cleaner game (just four penalties and no interceptions) while making the most of their 5.7 YPP. We mentioned Friday that BC broke the 8-0 ATS underdog run that had kicked off the league. But, they still don’t yet look like a championship threat to Calgary. 

Calgary (-3.5) won at Winnipeg 29-10

  • Total Yards: Calgary 400, Winnipeg 302
  • Yards-per-Play: Calgary 7.0, Winnipeg 5.2

This is where Calgary went from looking like an Atlanta or New Orleans type team (two shootouts vs. Ottawa), to a league champ that also plays defense. Big advantages across the board in what could have been a tough road spot. Calgary’s offense has reached at least 7.0 YPP and 395 yards in all three games. Note that the Stampeders did score a pick six TD this week, after picking up two non-offensive TD’s last week. While this offense is moving the ball very well, that’s likely going to mean “mid-to-high 20’s” per game on the scoreboard moving forward because you can’t just get those defensive scores on command. 

Toronto (plus 4.5) beat Ottawa 26-25

  • Total Yards: Toronto 410, Ottawa 395
  • Yards-per-Play: Toronto 7.7, Ottawa 6.1

Big win for Toronto, who will be a profitable team for bettors that can figure out when they’re well-suited to sparkle, and when the opposing defense can throw water on the fireworks. Strong yardage numbers in wins over Hamilton and Ottawa. Though, Toronto only had ONE POINT at halftime here before winning the second half 25-13. Ottawa would love to face one of the quieter offenses after seeing Calgary twice before Toronto. Another factor to remember for handicapping the Argos…this offense is going to do well vs. “tiring” defenses whenever that scenario might pop up. 

Saskatchewan (plus 1) beat Hamilton 37-20

  • Total Yards: Hamilton 206, Saskatchewan 466
  • Yards-per-Play: Hamilton 4.6, Saskatchewan 7.5

Saskatchewan was a short favorite most of the week. There was a huge late steam move Saturday evening toward Hamilton, just as they were about to get obliterated! The Tiger-Cats have been inexplicably bad so far. Just off the charts for a league that has relative parity all things considered. You know that the best football players in the world are in the NFL. So, the large swath of “can play, but not quite good enough for the NFL” fills out the nine CFL rosters. That should set up competitive football. Hamilton has been outgained 525-232 and 466-206 so far, while losing YPP 8.7 to 4.5 and 7.5 to 4.6. They’re down 69-35 on the scoreboard, helped by a pair of non-offensive TD’s. They have a total of 43 rushing yards for the season. Oh, and they were road favorites in both games! 

That late steam created another underdog cover. Through three weeks…

Underdogs: 10-2 ATS

Totals: 4-8 to the Under (3-9 in regulation)

The market has really overshot the mark on Over/Under estimates so far. Most games are priced in the mid 50’s, yet the low-to-high scoring line through 12 games has been:


Those are the medians in parenthesis. One of the 57’s stayed Under…so the far right quartet are the four Overs, and everything else stayed Under…with half the action not even reaching 50 points. 

Updating composite offshore odds to win the Grey Cup…

Offshore Odds to Win the Grey Cup

  • Calgary 11/4
  • Edmonton 4/1
  • British Columbia 11/2
  • Winnipeg 7/1
  • Ottawa 9/1
  • Toronto 9/1
  • Hamilton 9/1
  • Montreal 9/1
  • Saskatchewan 12/1

Calgary is now around -275 after being -300 last week. You can shop around for differences in that big hunk at 9/1. Plus, the market may wait a bit longer before throwing in the towel on Hamilton. They’ve definitely been worse than Saskatchewan so far, but must have a more impressive looking roster on paper to those in the know. 

This week’s schedule…

  • Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET): Toronto at Winnipeg 
  • Friday (7 p.m. ET): Calgary at Montreal 
  • Friday (10 p.m. ET): Ottawa at Edmonton 
  • Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET): British Columbia at Hamilton 
  • (Bye: Saskatchewan)
  • (Note: no more games on the ESPN family of networks until July 24)

The opener has a chance to be an entertaining matchup of mid-level teams. Remember that’s an inter-division game, and Toronto looked much more mortal against Western entry BC two weeks ago than they did against Hamilton and Ottawa of the East. Ottawa runs into another good offense this week against rested Edmonton. The Redblacks’ defense must already be feeling black and blue. 

We’ll look at early numbers and provide an updated estimate of “market” Power Ratings Tuesday. See if you can guess that those four Week 4 pointspreads will be before they come up! 

If you were too busy last week enjoying July Fourth to stay up with the newsletter, you missed the BIG NEWS that all VSiN City subscribers will automatically be entered for a drawing to win a free entry to the Westgate NFL SuperContest. That’s a $1,500 value. The drawing will be held August 19, which gives you out-of-towners plenty of time to set up a proxy. For those of you reading today’s edition on the home page of the website, please click here to subscribe for morning email delivery which includes the auto-entry. 

We also invite you to follow us on twitter for programming bulletins and snippets through the day. Click here to take care of that. If you have any comments or questions about our daily programming or the newsletter, please drop us a note.

Good luck if you throw your hat in the Home Run Derby! We’ll see you Tuesday.

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