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World Series futures odds shake out after trade deadline

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

Today's VSiN City newsletter is sponsored by FootballContest.com, your most trusted proxy service and source for info on Las Vegas football contests.

No lifelines at the deadline for many MLB contenders, but the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for star pitcher Yu Darvish and now dominate futures pricing.

MLB: Dodgers get Darvish as trade deadline expires to further cement favorite status
The clear winners on the final day of the trade deadline were the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, as they respectively acquired star pitchers Yu Darvish from Texas and Sonny Gray from Oakland. 

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Super Book, the Dodgers went from being the most respected favorite in a crowded field of legitimate contenders, to a team that’s now better than twice as likely to win the World Series as any other NL team. The Yankees moved to second-favorite in the AL behind Houston.

Jeff Sherman of the Westgate, the Nevada sportsbook most actively riding the pennant race from both “daily result” and “future analytics projections” perspectives posted these updated odds to win the World Series just before action began Monday night.

Westgate World Series Futures (equivalent win % in parenthesis)
LA Dodgers 9/4 (31%)
Houston 5/1 (16%)
Washington 6/1 (14%)
Chicago Cubs 7/1 (13%)
NY Yankees 7/1 (13%)
Cleveland 8/1 (11%)
Boston 12/1 (8%)
Kansas City 12/1 (8%)
Arizona 16/1 (6%)
Colorado 20/1 (5%)

Let’s first point out that the win percentages soar well clear of 100%. That’s because sportsbooks include a form of vigorish in futures pricing to create a house edge. 

The Dodgers are almost 2-1 over second-favorite Houston at 31% to 16%, an advantage that’s likely to hold because neither has to sweat a possible Wildcard elimination game. Others that currently have to survive the potential of a play-in game will see their win percentages rise if they reach the main brackets. For example, the winner of the projected Arizona/Colorado game would likely rise above a 10%-win chance. 

Barring injuries (cross your fingers), the coming postseason is going to feature a slew of pitcher’s duels featuring many of the best arms of the current era. After acquiring Darvish, the Dodgers are even more emphatically the team to beat. 

Some additional reading on “trade deadline day”
Matt Youmans of VSiN looks at the impact of Sonny Gray joining the Yankees
Fangraphs says Gray makes the Yankees World Series ready
538 talks about the rich getting richer
A Chicagoland writer is concerned that the Cubs have dismantled their future

MLB Monday: Yanks keep winning, but no changes atop AL divisional races 
The New York Yankees stayed hot with an easy 7-3 win over Detroit. This game saw a big line move earlier in the day, with the Yanks rising from about a -175 favorite to about -225. Keep in mind that a “50-cent” move in that range isn’t as big as it might seem. A game that moves from -120 to -170 is 50 cents…but the corresponding win percentage is from 54.5% to 62.9%. The Yanks move from -175 to -225 only represents a move from 63.6% to 69.2%. Both were “50 cents,” but the example that started closer to pick-em saw a leap of 8.4 percentage points, compared to just 6 percentage points for the Yanks. The more time you spend around sharps, the more they’ll encourage you to focus on win percentage rather than “cents” in baseball. 

Boston stayed within a half-game of the Yanks in the AL East with a 6-2 victory over Cleveland as a plus 110 underdog. A surprisingly easy win for spot starter Doug Fister, who picked up his first victory of the year while allowing two earned runs in 7.2 innings. Mike Clevinger of Cleveland had his second straight bad outing. His ERA has surged from 2.73 to 3.68 just from those two duds (16 hits allowed in 7.1 innings, after allowing only 10 hits in his prior 24 innings). 

Cleveland’s loss didn’t help previously hot Kansas City. The Royals lost at Baltimore 2-1 in a virtual market pick-em, with a stunning offensive cool-down coming against Ubaldo Jiminez.

The AL pennant race standings in our summer shorthand (games above or below .500)…

  • AL East: NYY plus 10, Boston plus 9, Tampa Bay plus 1, Baltimore -3
  • AL Central: Cleveland plus 10, Kansas City plus 6, Minnesota -3
  • AL West: Houston plus 33, Seattle plus 1, LA Angels -4, Texas -5

Note that the Westgate dropped Texas down to 300/1 to win the World Series after they traded Darvish. 

The American league carried the bulk of scoreboard weight on Monday. Two interesting series begin Tuesday in the senior circuit. Let’s dig a little deeper into those…

MLB: Diamondbacks/Cubs and Cardinals/Brewers begin 3-game sets Tuesday
Though the betting markets (and respected analytics sites) see the Cubs as a prohibitive favorite to win the NL Central, the current standings aren’t ready to grant them a playoff berth just yet.

NL Central: Cubs plus 8, Milwaukee plus 3, St. Louis plus 1, Pittsburgh -3 

If the Cubs struggle vs. a very talented Arizona squad, and somebody in the Brewers/Cards series earns a sweep…things will be very tight once again by the weekend. 

Last Friday we added indicator stats for offenses (weight-runs-created-plus, which is park adjusted) and bullpens (xFIP) to our previews. To keep things simple, we’ll keep using league rankings in those stats rather than the raw numbers from fangraphs. 

Arizona at the Chicago Cubs 

  • Offense (wRC-plus): Arizona #7 in NL, Cubs #5 in NL
  • Bullpen (xFIP): Arizona #2 in NL, Cubs #3 in NL
  • Tuesday: Corbin (3.94 xFIP) vs. Lester (3.63 xFIP)
  • Wednesday: Godley (3.17 xFIP) vs. Arrieta (4.06 xFIP)
  • Thursday: Undecided vs. Quintana (3.93 xFIP)

It’s easy to get locked into perceptions because the Cubs now seem likely to win their division, while the D-backs are going to be a Wildcard team. Don’t forget that Arizona would lead the Cubs by 3.5 games if they were in the same division! Also, if you focus on records vs. opponents at .500 or better, Arizona qualifies as “playoff caliber” at 19-19, while the Cubs are a disappointing 15-22. 

Both teams will emphasize pitching in the postseason, thanks to quality rotations and bullpens. Remember to mentally “dock” Arizona’s offense a bit from overall production because they play home games in a great hitter’s park. The only weak spot on the mound in this series right now is “undecided” on Thursday. 

St. Louis at Milwaukee

  • Offense (wRC-plus): St. Louis #6 in NL, Milwaukee #9 in NL
  • Bullpen (xFIP): St. Louis #7 in NL, Milwaukee #8 in NL
  • Tuesday: Martinez (3.63 xFIP) vs. Nelson (3.15 xFIP)
  • Wednesday: Wainwright (4.05 xFIP) vs. Suter (3.97 xFIP)
  • Thursday: Wacha (3.69 xFIP) vs. Woodruff (MLB debut)

It’s more likely than not that this will be seen as a meaningless series down the road. But for now, it’s an opportunity for one team to stay alive in playoff discussions. Milwaukee’s offense has sunk down to #9 in the NL after a virtual no-show vs. Cubs pitching this past weekend. The ultimate tie-breaker may be that the Brewers are falling off a cliff the past two weeks with a 3-11 record. 

Be sure to watch VSiN programming throughout the day for game previews and betting market developments. All three of our shows, “Follow the Money” with Mitch and Pauly, “A Numbers Game” with Gill Alexander, and “My Guys in the Desert” with Ron Flatter and Amal Shaw are making it a point to discuss games with pennant race implications in-depth. 

NFL: Media focus still on Patriots as exhibition slate nears
The 2017 NFL preseason starts this coming Thursday night when the Dallas Cowboys take on the Arizona Cardinals in Canton, Ohio on NBC. Chris Andrews of the South Point posted an opener last week of Cowboys -1. As we reached our late Monday deadline, most stores were centered around pick-em. 

In the days leading up to gridiron action, we’ve noticed that a lot of mainstream media chatter has been devoted to whether or not the New England Patriots can go 16-0 in the coming regular season. Mitch and Pauly discussed that last week on “Follow the Money,” running an audio clip from a radio host in the Northeast who called it “likely.” 

Luckily, VSiN is here to give you the market perspective on a question like that. The most obvious “at a glance” response is to see that New England’s Regular Season Win prop is 12.5, with the Under favored at -135. A “wisdom of the crowds” assessment, heavily influenced by the respected opinions of oddsmakers and sharp money, is saying right there that Under 12.5 is “likely.” It’s the favorite. “12 wins or less” is a favorite over “13 wins or more.” So, there’s NO WAY that the Pats could be “likely” to win 16 games. 

Now, being FAVORED in each of their 16 games? You can certainly make THAT case, assuming Tom Brady stays healthy. Obviously, part of “Brady could get hurt” is baked into the Regular Season Win total. It’s understood that a QB who will turn 40 on Thursday (and celebrate by watching the HOF game!) may have trouble avoiding injury or basic wear and tear. But, there’s a big difference between being favored to win 16 individual games, and being “likely” to win them all. 

Imagine for a second that New England is going to be -10 in all of its games. The Patriots are only -8 in their home opener vs. Kansas City…but KC is a playoff contender. Brady and company will have some home games much higher than that in their weak division. Let’s just keep it simple. New England -10 in every game for the sake of example.

A point spread of -10 is about the same as -400 on the moneyline
-400 on the moneyline is a win percentage of 80%
A win percentage of 80% over 16 games is only 12.8 wins

That’s right, a dominant NFL team that would be -10 every time they took the field would only be expected go about 13-3. Nobody wins every game they’re supposed to win. Sometimes you’re flat. Sometimes the opponent plays over their heads. Sometimes you lose the turnover category or give away cheap points on special teams. 

New England has “a chance” to run the table, which is already impressive enough. But, if the market has settled at 12.5 wins while favoring the Under…then the Pats are still quite a longshot to win all 16. 

CFL: Early lines are up for Week 7, which means it’s time to update our “market” Power Ratings
Tuesdays are for updating our estimate of how “the market” is rating Canadian Football League teams on a Power Ratings scale. We begin that process with a look at the current lines for Week 7 action…

  • Calgary (-4.5, total of 54.5) at Toronto 
  • Winnipeg at Ottawa (-3, total of 55)
  • Hamilton at Edmonton (-14, total of 55)
  • Saskatchewan at British Columbia (-5, total of 56) 

We use a standard 3 points for home field advantage. Therefore…Winnipeg and Ottawa must be rated as equal on a neutral field because the Redblacks are -3 at home. Edmonton should be 11 clear of Hamilton on the totem pole because the Eskimos are laying -14 at home. And, so on…

CFL Estimated “market” Power Ratings (ATS in parenthesis) 
Calgary 84…(3-3 ATS)
Edmonton 83…(2-3 ATS)
British Columbia 79 with Lulay, 81 with Jennings…(3-3 ATS)
Ottawa 78…(5-1 ATS)
Winnipeg 78…(3-2 ATS)
Montreal 77…(3-3 ATS)
Saskatchewan 77…(3-2 ATS)
Toronto 76…(2-4 ATS)
Hamilton 72…(1-4 ATS)

British Columbia is providing a bit of a conundrum after its bad loss at Edmonton (where they were crushed in the stats) and its somewhat fortunate late rally over Winnipeg the week before. B.C. is getting less respect this week with that -5 vs. Saskatchewan than we had been seeing. Could also be that the Roughriders are getting new respect after bullying Toronto. 

Generally speaking…Calgary and Edmonton are the class of the league at the top…Hamilton is still a special kind of horrible at the bottom (playing more like a pathetic 58 in terms of scoreboard results). Everyone else is within a field goal of each other unless Jennings comes back healthy and productive for BC. That makes for exciting football in the middle…but not necessarily high-quality football. 

Before we wrap things up, congrats to Ron Flatter for hitting an exacta on his “Saratoga Play of the Day” (sponsored by NYRA Bets). Links to those are always posted on our twitter account. Another great reason to follow us on twitter!

If you’re reading this on the VSiN home page, please be aware that signing up for a FREE subscription to the VSiN City newsletter automatically enters you in an August 19 drawing for a free entry into the Westgate SuperContest. That’s a $1,500 value. The drawing date allows you out-of-towners time to set up a proxy if needed. (More info on that front is provided by new sponsor Football.contest.com). Please click here to subscribe to VSiN City. 

See you tomorrow with another baseball handicapping tutorial, more pennant race coverage, and probably a look-ahead to Thursday’s NFL Hall of Fame game. If you have any topics you’d like to see discussed in a tutorial, please drop us a note.

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