Using Fangraphs’ 2018 Projections to Find MLB Futures Betting Value
Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports
At last, Fangraphs has posted their 2018 playoff odds for every team. For those unfamiliar with Fangraphs, they are perhaps the leading baseball analytics site on the world wide web (WWW).
Included in these are wild-card odds, division odds, pennant odds and World Series odds. Luckily, you can pretty much bet on all of those. Fangraphs does change these from time to time, meaning the percentages may be slightly different by the time the season starts. However, they do give us a great idea of the approximate likelihood each team should have based on advanced projections.
In this nifty series of charts below, I’ve listed each team’s odds, along with corresponding implied probabilities. An implied probability (IP) is essentially the chance an event will happen according to betting odds. Once we find that out, we can compare them to Fangraphs’ (FG) odds and find the biggest disparities.
You can flip through pages for each bet type by clicking the arrows in the top corners.
All right, now I’m going to translate all of that hogwash into words that a baby could understand.
Just by looking at the summary page, it’s pretty evident that Fangraphs is very high on the Astros this year. High on the reigning World Series champs, you say . . .
Back when divisional odds were released and the Astros were +100, I nearly had an aneurysm. Like I said at the time, all of the favorites appeared to have a lot of value and they pretty much all still do.
Even though the Astros’ price has moved all the way to -350, they still have value to win the division. And the pennant. And the World Series. According to Fangraphs, their World Series odds should be somewhere around 3-1. Though it is a boring pick, the Astros are so stacked that you should strongly consider taking them to at least win the pennant.
With the Astros so high, it’s understandable that the other teams in the division, most notably the Angels, are very low. And this is still assuming Shohei Ohtani is going to have a decent season at the plate and a great season on the mound. I’m not so sure that will be the case.
If you’re not a fan of the Astros and are looking for a different team with value, take a look at the Cubs. Much of their value comes from the fact that Fangraphs does not have high hopes for the Brewers. They’re expecting just 78 wins out of the Brew Crew. Though they do believe Milwaukee’s offense will improve, Fangraphs expects the Brewers to allow more than a half-run more per game than last season. Their 5-1 division odds are almost laughable and should be closer to 50-1.
Perhaps the best bet in the eyes of Fangraphs would be to take St. Louis to make the playoffs. The Cardinals can still be had at plus money, but Fangraphs is projecting more than a 70% chance that they are at least a wild-card team. Toronto, one of my playoff value bets from a couple weeks ago, is also worth a strong look at +260.
One of the most overrated teams is the Yankees, at least as far as World Series and pennant odds are concerned. The nation’s favorite team just added the NL MVP in Giancarlo Stanton and could very well have the best offense in the game. While Fangraphs still expects the Bombers to be a very good team, they’re not a great bet at these prices.
While you can’t monetize “not betting” on a team in the World Series, pennant or division, you actually can at most places for playoff odds. Teams such as the Brewers, Diamondbacks and Mariners are such bad bets for making the playoffs that they are terrific bets NOT to make the playoffs. Their “no” odds are -175, -150 and -280, respectively. Fangraphs would have their betting odds at -525, -355 and -930 . . . sheesh. Might want to hop on those if you can.
Odds at Fangraphs are all heavily tied to player projections and don’t factor in luck. They calculate runs scored and allowed per game and translate that into wins, meaning every team’s actual record would be identical to their Pythagorean record, which will probably end up happening for only a handful of teams in the league.
If you’re interested in taking a team with a slight negative number, I wouldn’t be scared off too much. If you were considering taking a team such as the Brewers or Angels to win their division, I would definitely think again.
If you have a book offering similar numbers as these, I would hop on . . .
- Astros World Series (6-1) AL pennant (3-1) and AL West (2-7)
- Cubs NL Pennant (7-2)
- Cardinals (+110) and Blue Jays (+260) to make the playoffs
- Brewers (-175) and Diamondbacks (-150) to not make the playoffs
Personally, I don’t love tying up huge odds-on favorites for six months or more so bets such as the Cubs at 1-5 to make the playoffs don’t interest me as much as they may interest other folks.
Top Photo: Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels
Photo via Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports