Wednesday 21 August 2019

Astros Close in on -500 and NFL Week One Preview

With a current line of -470 (1.213), in from -420 (1.238) yesterday, the Houston Astros (Justin Verlander) are in line to be the hottest favourites in database history (i.e. since 2004) when they play the Detroit Tigers today. They've traded at 1.2 on Betfair, so -500 isn't an impossibility when the line is updated! 

The current record for the shortest price was jointly held at -460 by the Boston Red Sox who lost in 2-5 in 2004 to the Tampa Bay Rays (or Devil Rays as they were then known), and the Cleveland Indians in 2017, who beat today's underdog Detroit Tigers 2-0. 

This is only the 21st time a team has been as short as -400 since 2004, and the fourth time for Justin Verlander, which is a record over Clayton Kershaw who has been this favoured just the three times.

Of the 20 completed matches at -400 or shorter, the 'dog has won five, with two others going to extra innings, so as we saw as recently as the 11th of this month, a short price doesn't guarantee anything.

I should point out that from the National League, the big favourite has an unblemished record. 

While the sample size is too small to be confident in anything, the evidence suggests that favourite backers are not buying money.

The 88 matches at the -350 or shorter price do show a profit on the favourite, at least on the Money Line, with an ROI of 2%, but a loss on the Run Line, but again, if looking only at National League teams, the ROIs are 14.4% and 5.1% respectively, while they are in the red for American League teams. 

A safer bet appears to be Unders. From the 88 games, Unders has an ROI of 12.1% spread evenly across both leagues.

The T-Bone system (ROI this season ML 11.7%, RL 10.7%) looks to have a qualifier today with the Washington Nationals at -150 (1.667), while we also have an Overs (ROI 14.2% YTD) selection

Speaking of 'dogs, with the NFL season fast approaching, some of you may have seen the talk on Twitter and no doubt elsewhere on where the value may be for the Week One matches.

The premise is that the off-season is disruptive, and that the public bias is to rate teams based on old form or data meaning that favourites may be over-rated and 'dogs under-rated.

For the past five seasons, Week One 'dogs have a 54.8% record ATS overall, but in Divisional matches, for which there are five this year, the number is 81%. 

In the AFC, the record is 90%, with the one loser (New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills in 2017) failing to cover by a single point.

Divisional opponents are faced twice every regular season, and are the NFL equivalent of a football six-pointer - a win isn't just a win, it denies your divisional rival a win, so the stakes are higher in these games. Add in that the teams tend to know the weaknesses and strengths of a divisional rival better than they do a team they might face every few years, and it's not unreasonable to treat these games as a separate category.

Readers should be familiar with my Small Road 'Dogs strategy which over the past five seasons has a winning record of 54%, but which in Divisional games is 55.8%, and then if you look only at NFC games played on grass, you're at 80.8%, but that's perhaps for another day. 

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