Aaron Judge was "Willie, Mickey, and the Duke" all rolled into one in Monday’s Home Run Derby. We’re talkin’ baseball, CFL, and tennis today in VSiN City!
Home Run Derby: Judge holds rawhide in contempt on way to easy victory
Aaron Judge more than lived up to the hype Monday night in the 2017 Home Run Derby. (And we dodged using "All Rise" or "Here Comes the Judge" in our subhead!)
- Last to bat in the first round, Judge watched opponent Justin Bour hit a whopping 22 dingers, well above the prior six contestants’ output. Judge hit 23.
- Facing Cody Bellinger in the second round, Judge coasted past Bellinger’s dozen to 13 before calling off the jam to advance to the finals. Oh, during this win, Judge launched shots of 507 and 513 feet!
- Against popular darkhorse Miguel Sano in the anticlimactic finals, Judge only needed 11 dingers to win the trophy. Judge took just two of his allotted four minutes to coast to victory.
- Miguel Sano (-200) edged Mike Moustakas 11-10
- Gary Sanchez (plus 300) shocked Giancarlo Stanton 17-16
- Cody Bellinger (-215) rallied by Charlie Blackmon 15-14
- Aaron Judge (-290) surged past Justin Bour 23-22
(Judge hit more in his first round than Sano and Moustakas combined!)
- Miguel Sano beat a tired Gary Sanchez 11-10, stopping once the win was clinched
- Aaron Judge beat Cody Bellinger 13-12, stopping once the win was clinched
- Aaron Judge beat Miguel Sano 11-10, needing only half his allotted time
Late day odds had Judge at plus 200 to win the event, a virtual co-favorite with hometown hero Stanton at plus 180. Once Stanton had been eliminated, there was little doubt who was going to win.
Nice appetizer for tonight’s main course…
Overnight line for Tuesday’s All-Star Game
- National League -115, total of 9 (Under -120)
(Max Scherzer will start for the National League, vs. Chris Sale of the American League)
MLB: Getting a clean read in the National League
As promised, we’re going to devote our midweek reports to clearing up illusions about the strengths and weaknesses of Major League Baseball teams. We hope this will help sharpen your handicapping process in the second half of the season.
Today we’ll look at the National League. Tomorrow, the American League.
We’ll begin our NL study with a brief look at the best hitters’ parks and pitchers’ parks in the senior circuit to this point in the 2017 season. That will set the stage for points of emphasis later.
NL Best Hitting Parks
- Colorado: increased scoring 32% (home runs 28%)
- Arizona: increased scoring 25% (home runs 32%)
- Milwaukee: increased scoring 10%
- Chicago Cubs: increased scoring 6%
- Philadelphia: increased scoring 6%
- Atlanta: increased scoring 5%
The most important thing to remember with extreme hitters’ parks is that they create illusions about the teams who play there. Offenses are almost always overrated (often WAY overrated), while pitching staffs are typically better than realized. Once you get those teams out of those parks, you often find the true talent is the reverse of media descriptions and fan perceptions.
You likely know that Colorado’s stadium has always been a great hitter’s park because of the altitude in Denver. You may not have been aware that Arizona is right up there with them most of the time. This season, Arizona has actually been the better home run park so far. Milwaukee is the third best hitter’s park this season, helping to create the illusion that offense is driving their run to the top of the Central division. Note that dealing with the Cubs is always tricky. When the wind is blowing out, particularly in day games, Wrigley Field might as well be Colorado. When the wind is blowing in, particularly in night games in cooler months, it might as well be San Francisco.
NL Best Pitching Parks
- San Francisco: reduced scoring 23% (home runs down 38%)
- St. Louis: reduced scoring 17% (home runs down 24%)
- NY Mets: reduced scoring 15% (home runs down 31%)
- Miami: reduced scoring 10% (home runs down 12%)
In San Francisco’s best years, they’ve been described by media as a great pitching team with a lousy offense…but focusing on games in “real” parks often showed that the Giants fielded great hitting teams with average pitching.
Relatively neutral parks so far in 2017: LA Dodgers, Washington, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Diego.
OK, with that backdrop, we now move forward to focus only on ROAD statistics for National League teams this season. Handicappers and bettors often start their process by looking at pitching. We’ll do the same today.
NL Above Average Road Pitching
- Arizona: 3.27 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
- LA Dodgers: 3.69 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
- Colorado: 3.83 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
- Milwaukee: 3.92 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
- Pittsburgh: 4.05 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
- Chicago Cubs: 4.12 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
- Atlanta: 4.20 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
- Washington: 4.33 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
- NL Average: 4.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
Notice how Arizona and Colorado have exploded into the pennant chase with fantastic pitching…that’s hidden by playing so many games in great hitters’ parks. They rank one and three in the league, bookending the awesome Dodgers staff. Arizona’s actually 0.42 runs better in ERA than the Dodgers in road games. Milwaukee is fourth in the league…which helps explain why they’re in the playoff hunt as well. Washington has had a horrible bullpen this season, yet still ranks as above-average staff because of their front line starters.
Bottom line…it’s very tough to make a run at the playoffs without solid pitching…and this year’s top contenders all currently have above average pitching staffs after you neutralize their stats.
NL Below Average Road Pitching
- NL Average: 4.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
- Philadelphia: 4.73 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
- San Diego: 4.92 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
- St. Louis: 4.92 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
- Miami: 5.07 ERA, 1.41 WHIP
- NY Mets: 5.35 ERA, 1.54 WHIP
- Cincinnati: 5.45 ERA, 1.52 WHIP
- San Francisco: 5.49 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
Mostly the dregs of the league…though St. Louis has played well enough lately to climb into the playoff discussion. No way they make a serious run over 162 games with a road ERA near five! Playing home games in pitcher’s parks may have helped disguise what's happening with the Giants, Mets, Marlins, and Cards. (Note: San Diego used to be an extreme pitchers’ park, but on-site changes have helped make that a more neutral scoring environment.)
Now we move to offenses. This gets much murkier because a lot of teams have been able to get near five runs per game. And, notice how hard it becomes to find the powerhouses in the haystack.
NL Above Average Road Offenses
- Washington: 5.5 runs, .328 on-base pct., .453 slugging pct.
- NY Mets: 5.3 runs, .334 on-base pct., .492 slugging pct.
- Miami: 5.1 runs, .336 on-base pct., .444 slugging pct.
- Milwaukee: 4.9 runs, .332 on-base pct., .442 slugging pct.
- Atlanta: 4.9 runs, .328 on-base pct., .419 slugging pct.
- LA Dodgers: 4.8 runs, .337 on-base pct., .419 slugging pct.
- St. Louis: 4.8 runs, .317 on-base pct., .419 slugging pct.
- Pittsburgh: 4.7 runs, .318 on-base pct., .399 slugging pct.
- NL Average: 4.6 runs, .318 on-base pct., .416 slugging pct.
Washington’s explosiveness has helped them overcome their shaky bullpen. The Mets and Marlins really kick things up a notch in better parks. Milwaukee ends up ranking fourth in the league in both pitching and scoring on the road, which puts them right where they should be in the standings. The Dodgers have been great at on-base percentage, but only slightly above league average in slugging percentage. What don’t you see up there? The two teams trailing LAD in the West, or the Cubs.
NL Below Average Road Offenses
- NL Average: 4.6 runs, .318 on-base pct., .416 slugging pct.
- Chicago Cubs: 4.4 runs, .319 on-base pct., .401 slugging pct.
- Colorado: 4.4 runs, .313 on-base pct., .379 slugging pct.
- San Francisco: 4.3 runs, .313 on-base pct., .398 slugging pct.
- Cincinnati: 4.3 runs, .318 on-base pct., .440 slugging pct.
- Arizona: 4.1 runs, .302 on-base pct., .387 slugging pct.
- Philadelphia: 3.7 runs, .295 on-base pct., .371 slugging pct.
- San Diego: 3.5 runs, .284 on-base pct., .380 slugging pct.
Amazingly, Arizona has one of the worst road offenses in the league…only better than the doormats wearing Phillies and Padres uniforms. The D-backs are seen by too many in the media as a great offensive team that may need more pitching to be a danger in October. The D-backs are actually a great pitching team that’s going to need more bats. Playing home games in a great hitter’s park is hiding that dynamic.
We saw a second ago that the Cubs were sixth in road pitching. Here they’re ninth in road offense. As we discussed last week, the pitching staff is better than the hitters in league context…but run prevention has fallen off more from last season’s greatness, causing the arms to get too much of the blame. The mediocre Cubs have a slightly above average pitching staff, a slightly below average offense to this point in the season.
Summing up our “clean” look at the NL contenders…
- LA Dodgers: Great team led by great pitching
- Washington: Great offense, but the bullpen is still a concern
- Milwaukee: So far, so good
- Arizona: Great pitching staff with a very overrated offense
- Colorado: Great pitching to this point, disappointing offense
- Chicago Cubs: Long hangover, but all they have to do is catch Milwaukee
A quick follow-up on our recent humidor discussions regarding Arizona. We’ve been made aware of a recent newspaper article in Phoenix stating that the franchise could NOT get permission from Major League Baseball this season to use a humidor. So the recent collapse in home scoring over the last two homestands must be attributed to:
- the fact that the roof is always closed in hot weather, hurting visibility
- the possibility that Arizona is experimenting with a humidor anyway!
We’ll still keep an eye on the phenomenon, accepting that it probably isn’t due to a humidor until on-the-record sources report otherwise.
MLB: South Point National League Futures
We wrap up the baseball portion of today’s coverage with a look at Monday’s futures prices at the South Point in the NL.
- LA Dodgers: 2/1 to win NL, 3/1 to win the World Series
- Washington: 2/1 to win NL, 5/1 to win the World Series
- Chicago Cubs 2/1 to win NL, 6/1 to win the World Series
- Colorado 4/1 to win NL, 10/1 to win the World Series
- Arizona 7/1 to win NL, 15/1 to win the World Series
- St. Louis 10/1 to win NL, 25/1 to win the World Series
- Milwaukee 10/1 to win NL, 40/1 to win the World Series
It’s important to remember that South Point prices are often strongly influenced by money that’s already been bet, rather than representing a forward-looking calculation of who’s likely to win. (You’ll recall that from our late-season NBA discussions.) Analytics sites don’t have the Cubs and Dodgers equal for winning the NL at the moment. Here’s a peak at the odds from fangraphs.
Championship Percentages at Fangraphs
- LA Dodgers: 41.1% to win the NL, 21.8% to win the WS
- Washington: 24.3% to win the NL, 10.4% to win the WS
- Chicago Cubs: 15.1% to win the NL, 7.1% to win the WS
- Arizona: 7% to win the NL, 2.5% to win the WS
- St. Louis: 4.9% to win the NL, 1.9% to win the WS
- Colorado: 3.1% to win the NL, 0.8% to win the WS
- Milwaukee: 2.4% to win the NL, 0.5% to win the WS
Fangraphs is bearish on Arizona and Colorado compared to their won-lost records…which is natural for likely Wildcard teams who must survive a play-in just to get to the Dodgers and Nats.
CFL: Early lines and estimated “market” Power Ratings for Week 4
Early numbers went up Monday afternoon for Week 4 of Canadian Football League action. It was gratifying to see that the point spreads were pretty much in line with the numbers we posted a week ago…before Week 3 had even been played. Looks like we’re in sync with the marketplace at the moment.
First, this weekend’s early pointspreads…
- Toronto at Winnipeg (-3, total of 52)
- Calgary (-5.5, total of 48.5) at Montreal
- Ottawa at Edmonton (-6, total of 57.5)
- British Columbia (-3, total of 49.5) at Hamilton
Now, we move to our estimated “market” Power Ratings. Use a standard of three points for home field advantage (we’ll tweak that down the road if it looks like the market is more varied). Remember, these are based on the lines up above. Since Toronto is plus 3 at Winnipeg…and home field is worth three points, those two teams must be tied in the Power Ratings. The numbers reflect our efforts to “capture” how the market currently views teams.
CFL Estimated “market” Power Ratings
- Calgary 84
- Edmonton 82
- British Columbia 81
- Ottawa 79
- Winnipeg 77
- Toronto 77
- Hamilton 75
- Montreal 75
- Saskatchewan 74
More CFL coming Thursday when we preview weekend action.
Wimbledon: Tuesday tennis odds
We’ll pick up Wimbledon coverage again now that we’ve reached the quarterfinals (except for one delayed men's match). Here’s a composite of overnight odds offshore for Tuesday’s four women’s quarterfinals and the leftover fourth rounder for the men.
- Garbine Muguruza (-150) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (plus 120)
- Johanna Konta (-120) vs. Simona Halep (-110)
- Coco Vandeweghe (-200) vs. Magdalena Rybarikova (plus 160)
- Venus Williams (-150) vs. Jelena Ostapenko (plus 120)
Futures prices are showing Konta and Muguruza atop the heap as most likely winners (around 4/1 each), with Vandeweghe, Halep, and Venus Williams right behind them. The absence of Serena has really opened up the possibilities.
Remaining Men’s Fourth Round
- Novak Djokovic -2500 vs. Adrian Mannarino (plus 1000)
We’ll talk about the men’s quarters tomorrow.
That’s it for Tuesday. Back tomorrow to study “road only” stats in the American League, and provide our weekly “tutorial” on a baseball topic. This week we’ll look at how some sharps try to arbitrage the marketplace.
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