With about sixty games left in this year's major league baseball regular season, it is now time to decide if any adjustments should be made to my team division championships and wild card team predictions made a few months back.
You may remember that I had stated that the Yankees would win the American League East, Detroit the American League Central, and Texas the West division. Wild card berths would go to Boston and the Los Angeles Angels.
In the National League, I stated that the Washington Nationals, with their excellent pitching, would hang
on to win the National League East division and that Philadelphia would gain a
wild card berth. Pittsburgh would pull off the impossible and win the Central
with the St. Louis Cardinals winning the wild card berth, and that the Dodgers
would stave off the San Francisco Giants to win the West.
Philadelphia? Did I write
that with my mind or with my heart? Hopefully, it was a combination of the two.
They have begun to win with a champion’s heart and are coming off their first
three or four game sweep. They defeated the Brewers in dramatic fashion in all
four of their games and have now won eight of the last 12 games played since
the All Star break. They are still nine games under.500, having been outscored by
their opponents to the tune of 27 runs. Yet, this period marks the first time this
season that messrs Utley, Howard and Halliday are all playing together.
Mathematically speaking, the
Phillies have less than 2% probability of making it to the playoffs, but they
will certainly be a team to ‘play-on’ as the rest of the season unfolds. The
New York Mets and Marlins are done. The Mets have lost nine of their last 10
games - and six straight - to fall to 47-51 for the season and trail the division leading
Nationals by 11 ½ games. Despite all of their hoopla and
statements about building a dynasty around Hanly Ramirez, the Marlins are in ruin. The Phillies
will leapfrog over both of those teams within the next two weeks, but catching the
Braves, who are 10 games over .500 remains a long shot.
The Nationals have won five
straight games and have a ½ game lead over the Cincinnati Reds for best record
in the NL. They have a 93% probability of making the playoffs and, quite
frankly, I feel it is a fait accompli given the strength of their pitching alone.
There are some interesting ways
to play team movements in MLB, analogous, really, to financial market arbitrage
where an investor buys one instrument and simultaneously sells short a
homogeneous instrument looking to benefit financial gain from the spread
between the two investment instruments. I think there is a similar opportunity buying the Phillies and selling either the Nats or the Braves. The
Phillies currently trail the Nationals by 14 games, and the bet would be that over the
next several weeks that deficit will fall to below 10 games.
Now, you have to careful using money lines as they can adversely impact the net result of spreading these
two teams. However, it is more likely that the Nationals will be heavier
favorites in general in their next 25 games than the Phillies. This will
actually magnify the benefit of this arbitrage opportunity. If you choose to do
this method, make certain that the average money line plays of both teams are
as close to matching as possible. You can easily adjust the amount bet to a
lower amount to equate the results of both teams from time-to-time.
I will present even more on this at the MLB with John Ryan thread.