Fenway crowd pays tribute to David Ortiz after nightclub shooting
Major League Baseball wants to keep the nation’s eyes glued to TVs (or other devices) on the heels of this week’s Home Run Derby and All-Star game. That’s why the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox are scheduled to host the Los Angeles Dodgers in a World Series rematch in this week’s edition of Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN, 7 p.m.).
It’s possible this will also be a World Series preview for October of 2019. Though, futures markets don’t see it that way. The Dodgers are consensus favorites to win the senior circuit heading into the season’s second stage…basically pick-em against “the rest of the NL” at 11/10. Boston is a long shot to repeat as AL champs, commonly priced at 12/1 or 13/1 globally.
As you assess the rematch, be aware that the mainstream media generally gives too much credit to the Dodgers’ pitching staff, and not enough to its offense. Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine typically plays a pitcher’s park. This season, it’s the No. 9 rated pitcher’s park so far…reducing scoring by 9%.
You regulars know that VSiN encourages bettors to look at “road only” stats to help minimize statistical illusions created by home parks. With that in mind, entering weekend action…
▪ Los Angeles led the National League in road on-base percentage at .337. That’s the traditional offensive stat best correlated to run production. Teams that get guys on base score runs. The Dodgers actually ranked fifth in the whole Major Leagues in road on-base percentage even though their pitchers have to bat most of the time. (That won’t be an issue in their interleague games at Fenway Park.)
▪ Not coincidentally, Los Angeles led the National League in road walks drawn (third in the majors). That means this offense wears down opposing starting pitchers more quickly to attack mediocre bullpens. Getting runners on base while forcing high pitch counts is even more potent.
▪ Los Angeles was fourth in the National League in road slugging percentage at .435, tenth in the majors.
VSiN doesn’t mean to diminish the Dodgers’ pitching staff. It’s also good enough to win a championship. But, its road ERA ranked only fifth in the NL at 4.28. It ranked a disappointing #13 in the NL in road strikeouts (third worst). In 2019, the staff has been unhittable at home, generic on the road.
That last point may be good news for Red Sox fans, who are hoping a big weekend helps jump start another run to the postseason. Boston urgently needs to lift its game against quality. The Sox were just 17-25 this season vs. opponents currently at .500 or better in the first half of the season, having dropped series in order to Oakland, Arizona, the Yankees, Tampa Bay, Houston, Houston again, Cleveland, NYY again, Tampa Bay again, and New York a third time.
▪ While Dodgers/Red Sox is the main TV attraction for bettors this weekend, playoff contenders will also be featured in the following broadcasts: Chicago White Sox at Oakland (Saturday, FS1, 3 p.m.), San Francisco at the Chicago Cubs (Saturday, FOX 6 p.m.), and Washington at Philadelphia (Sunday TBS 12:05 p.m.).
▪ Let’s fully update composite global odds for top contenders to win the NL and AL entering the second stage of the season…
National League: Dodgers 11/10, Atlanta 3/1, Cubs 9/1, Milwaukee 11/1, Philadelphia 11/1, Washington 12/1, St. Louis 22/1.
American League: New York Yankees 7/4, Houston 9/5, Minnesota 9/2, Tampa Bay 11/1, Boston 12/1, Cleveland 14/1, Oakland 22/1, Texas 25/1.
▪ In early NFL betting, the Houston Texas are have drawn interest in their season opener against the Saints in New Orleans. An opening line of Saints -7.5 is down to -6.5 at FanDuel. That’s an early indicator that sharps (professional wagerers) would like Houston strong at +7.5, and probably still at +7. If you were with us last year, you know that seven is a “key” number, the second most common victory margin in football. Sharps like to have the seven in their pocket when games are priced near that number.
Come September, the general public is likely to look at the Saints at anything below the seven. They would like the blowout potential of a serious Super Bowl threat laying less than a touchdown at home.
▪ Current composite odds to win Super Bowl LIV in February: New England 7/1, Kansas City 8/1, New Orleans 9/1, Los Angeles Rams 9/1, Philadelphia 14/1, Los Angeles Chargers 14/1, Indianapolis 14/1, Cleveland 14/1, Chicago 16/1.