Reverse Engineering the Sharks (9/13/19)

I’m back for more diving into how the Vegas betting odds on MLB games can help fantasy owners find any new information. All the background information is available in this introductory article and I’m just going to continue grinding through articles find discrepancies and any useful fantasy information like the following.

Fantasy usable information.

Game 1 (Monday): Brewers at Marlins
Favorite: Brewers
Vegas Breakeven % (Brewers): 68.5%
FanGraphs Win%: 58.4%

There are several items which could be making the Marlins look worse. Rober Duggar’s projected ERA was near 5.00 but his in-season FIP and xFIP were closer to 6.00. Additionally, the Marlins bullpen ERA is a half run higher than the Brewers.

Game 2 (Monday): Pirates at Giants
Favorite: Giants
Vegas Breakeven % (Giants): 63.2%
FanGraphs Win%: 57.1%

Same as last game, the starter and bullpen may be dragging down the projection. Trevor Williams has a projected ERA near 4.50 going into the game with all his 2019 ERA’s and estimators closer to 5.00. Additionally, he’s really struggled in the second half with his ERA at 6.00 and ERA estimators around 5.50. Also, the Giants bullpen has been a half-run better over the course of this season.

Game 3 (Tuesday): Cardinals at Rockies
Favorite: Cardinals
Vegas Breakeven % (Cardinals): 60.9%
FanGraphs Win%: 50.7%

Wow, the sharks really liked Michael Wacha going into Colorado. The FanGraphs projections of a near 5.00 ERA pitcher but Wacha had shown signs of recovery in the second half with strikeouts up and walk rate down. His ERA in the second half is 3.86 with similar ERA estimators.

As for Chi Chi González, his projections were near 5.25 but his 2019 ERA and estimators have him near 6.00. He’s been good in first September start that was just one game.

To put the two bullpens on the same level, I compared road ERA’s and the Cards were a half-run better.

Game 4 (Tuesday): Rays at Rangers
Favorite: Rays (Vegas), Rangers FanGraphs
Vegas Breakeven % (Rays): 57.4%
FanGraphs Win%: 48.3%

Two of the most surprisingly improved pitchers faced off with Lance Lynn going against Ryan Yarbrough. Lynn’s projection seems fine. Nothing is out of place and I could even see it be lower with higher second-half velocity and more strikeouts (9.6 K/9 to 11.4 K/9).

Yarbrough came in with a projection near 4.25 but ERA and FIP are around 2.50 and his xFIP at ~3.50. Quite a bit of difference. I’m not sure it’s worth a 9% point difference, but Yarbrough’s projection seems off.

Game 5 (Tuesday): Athletics at Astros
Favorite: Astros
Vegas Breakeven % (Astros): 61.7%
FanGraphs Win%: 53.3%

Vegas has been heavily favoring the Astros since I started this Series. In this game, it was Wade Miley against Tanner Roark. I’m really surprised but the difference with how horrible Miley has pitched in the second half (~4.75 ERA estimators). FanGraphs put his projection just north of 4.50.

The A’s countered with Tanner Roark who had similar projections to Miley and no real changes since joining the Astros.

I wonder if part of the Astros love I’ve been seeing is from Yordan Alvarez. The FanGraphs projections have him with OPS under .900 with his season-long OPS over 1.050.

Game 6 (Tuesday): Diamondbacks at Mets
Favorite: Mets
Vegas Breakeven % (Diamondbacks): 47.6%
FanGraphs Win%: 41.2%

Once I saw Zac Gallen in the box score, I guessed he was behind the difference. The ERA estimators had him just under a 4.50 ERA while his talent so far points to a 4.00 ERA. Other lines haven’t moved on a half run difference to I decided to dive into Zach Wheeler.

Wheeler has some red flags with his strikeout rate dropping from 9.8 K/9 in the first half to 6.6 K/9 in the second half. His xFIP would be in the 4.50 range while his projections were closer to 3.75.

Game 7 (Wednesday): Indians at Angels
Favorite: Angels (FanGraphs), Indians (Vegas)
Vegas Breakeven % (Indians): 58.5%
FanGraphs Win%: 46.7%

Now, Trout wasn’t in the Angels lineup but his absence is taken into account by FanGraphs projects. I wonder if the plan was for the sharks to use this news for their advantage.

Looking of the pitchers, I couldn’t find anything off.

It might be the bullpens with the Indians having a 3.69 ERA on the season and the Angels at 5.06.

Game 8 (Wednesday): Cardinals at Rockies
Favorite: Cardinals
Vegas Breakeven % (Cardinals): 61.7%
FanGraphs Win%: 51.2%

I believe this difference came down to an evaluation of the starting pitchers. Dakota Hudson has been thriving off his groundball rate (57%) and has an ERA (3.38) way below his projection (4.60 ERA). The Rockies Antonio Senzatela had a projection near 5.00 but I’d not be surprised if his talent was closer to a 5.50 pitcher. Also, a 0.50 road ERA difference is in the Cardinals favor.

We hoped you liked reading Reverse Engineering the Sharks (9/13/19) by Jeff Zimmerman!

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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