MLB xxWins Projection Update: June 25th

Welcome the next update of my new tool to better project team success: xxWins! Looking at a team’s performance on offense, defense, and pitching, we’ll not only be able to project a team’s win total, but their expected run differential. Run differential is useful, but takes more time to stabilize, so this tool can allow us to create more accurate projections sooner!

For more information on the basis on xxWins, and how it goes about forecasting team success, I recommend you read my introduction piece on the tool. Even in just two weeks, there was significant movement in playoff odds and division chases that appear to be meaningful when projecting for the rest of the season. Does this line up with what the betting markets think? Let’s take a closer look!

What Teams Have Overall Deceiving Records/Expected Records?

More Wins Than Expected

  1. Cleveland Indians (-20.56 Wins/162 Games)
  2. Chicago Cubs (-18.32 Wins)
  3. Seattle Mariners (-14.74 Wins)
  4. San Francisco Giants (-13.11 Wins)
  5. Toronto Blue Jays (-11.3 Wins)

More xWins Than Expected

  1. Toronto Blue Jays (-20.3 Wins)
  2. Chicago Cubs (-16.13 Wins)
  3. Houston Astros (-13.07 Wins)
  4. San Diego Padres (-11.94 Wins)
  5. San Francisco Giants (-10.92 Wins)

By now, you may expect teams’ wins and expected wins to align with one another, but the Indians and Mariners each have much higher xWins than expected. I could see the argument that the back-end of Cleveland’s bullpen gives them an edge in one-score games, but the Mariners? Not so much. Instead, let’s focus on the team that appear on both lists. The Giants are on a 92-win pace, based on xxWins, so I wouldn’t fret too much about them not likely to sustain a 105-win pace. Can someone explain the Cubs to me, though? They rate as a below-average offense and a poor pitching staff, yet they’re in position to make the playoffs; that just doesn’t add up. As for the Blue Jays, their pitching staff, per xxWins, is equivalent to that of a 67-win team. That is…. far from ideal.

Less Wins Than Expected

  1. Baltimore Orioles (18.71 Wins)
  2. Miami Marlins (16.61 Wins)
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks (15.06 Wins)
  4. Chicago White Sox (6.63 Wins)
  5. Texas Rangers (3.53 Wins)

Less xWins Than Expected

  1. Baltimore Orioles (9.59 Wins)
  2. New York Mets (5.32 Wins)
  3. Los Angeles Angels (3.86 Wins)
  4. New York Yankees (3.34 Wins)
  5. Boston Red Sox (2.66 Wins)

The Orioles are saved! Well, not exactly; they’re still a 62-win team based on xWins. It is interesting that a) there is almost no overlap on this and b) the amount of teams underachieving is far less than the amount overachieving. From this, I’m inlined to take a closer look at the AL East race. With two teams being undervalued even by run differential, could this open up potential value? What about with the White Sox as the team to represent the American League?

Power Rankings

Now, it’s time to establish adjusted win totals for each team, in order to get a read of where they stand compared to the league.

It is generally a poor idea to expect teams to play as well as they currently have, which means preseason expectations still have some significance. With that in mind, I’ll be regressing each team’s xxWin pace with their projected wins from Fangraphs. Thus, we aren’t only taking into account how well each team has played this season, but their likely true talent level, hopefully leading to the most accurate projection.

After a rough tough couple of weeks, the White Sox no longer rank as the top team in the MLB. In fact, the team that swept them in a four-game series, the Houston Astros, go from 5th to 2nd in the rankings, quite a noticeable jump. Then, there are the Giants. Not only did they move up five spots in the rankings, yet they rank as the second-best team in the National League, ahead of the Padres, which may surprise some. However, thus far, their offensive success, paired with strong starting pitching, cannot be overlooked. It also wasn’t a great stretch for the AL East, with every team falling at least a couple spots in this update’s rankings. Will someone run away with that division?

Division Projection/Odds

Now that we have looked at each team’s expected win total, let us put this tool to practice. Starting with each division, we’ll compare each team’s true chances of winning their respective division to where the betting markets have them at, hoping to find surplus value. A positive surplus value indicates that the team is underpriced relative to their true talent level, though that doesn’t simply make it a strong bet: understanding future market movement and the cost-benefit analysis of each potential bet is critical.

AL East

Not much change here, though the Red Sox have seen their projected gap between them and the other competitions in this division evaporate over the past two weeks. Their pitching has definitely come back down to earth, and it’s something to keep an eye on heading into a critical three-game series against the Yankees. This really should be priced evenly among the top-three teams, and with Tampa Bay struggling of late, I’m surprised they haven’t seen a greater dip in their odds. With that in mind, Boston and New York aren’t getting quite enough credit.

AL Central

Although Cleveland is only two games out in the division, regression is expected to hit the top-two teams in this division in much different ways. I’m saying I’d bet the White Sox as -561 favorite. That said, you certainly can’t get me to invest in Cleveland at all.

AL West

It is downright scary what the Astros are doing offensively. Suddenly, the gap between them and the A’s has greatened significantly. There’s no sign of overachieving when looking at each hitter on an individual basis, and, at the moment, I’m not sure there’s a team I’d want to play less than them. I’m sure baseball fans will take their recent success well and without any gripe whatsoever!

NL East

I’m glad I recommended the Mets’ division odds when I did! Sure, they’ve played well as of late, but it is surprising to see them recognized as the favorite so strongly with the betting markets. Also, the Marlins still deserve better! Even though every other team shows some value with their current odds, the only appetizing bet would be Washington, who is actually the team in second place right now; there is just too great of a chance that New York wins this division currently.

NL Central

Quietly, the Brewers continue to pick up steam in terms of projections, yet the Cubs won’t stop winning in bizarre fashion! Also, can the Reds please hold a lead? Their offense has been so strong this season, easily the best in this division, but they can’t catch a break. Hoping for some bounce-back in that regard, they’d be the only advisable bet in what remains a very tight division.

NL West

Ah, just as everyone expected. The NL West coming down to the Dodgers, Padres, and the …….. Giants? I don’t know how, but they just keep on playing well! I fully expect the Dodgers to run away with this division, though the lack of respect San Francisco has gotten compared to San Diego isn’t called for, in my opinion. Consider their division odds too much of a long shot because of the Dodgers, yet still offering some value.

  • New Bets To Make: N/A
  • New Bets To Monitor: SF To Win NL West (+613), NYY To Win AL East (+285)

Pennant Projections/Odds

American League

With the Astros’ recent surge, they now are the favorites by all accounts to represent the American League in the World Series. Right away, it’s clear that the Red Sox remain the most mis-priced team arguably in the entire MLB, so here’s hoping you bet them at the most-favorable odds. It might be difficult to get the White Sox, meanwhile, at lower odds than this. Their upcoming schedule includes the Mariners, Twins, Tigers, and Orioles, and it’s always a good idea to buy low on a team when you can. That’s just good business!

National League

The Giants have been the National League’s version of the Red Sox; likely to continue to be underpriced based on preseason expectations being too low on them. I’ll wait until they fall on a cold stretch to recommend them as a bet, but that’d be the only reasonable bet to make with the odds as they are currently.

  • New Bets To Make: CHW To Win American League (+358)
  • New Bets To Monitor: SF To Win National League (+750)

World Series Projections/Odds

Oh look, the Giants and Red Sox show up as having some of the most misplaced odds, followed by the White Sox! Also, can someone explain why the Astros’ World Series odds have barely changed? Given how much their pennant odds have changed, that feels like a mistake. Anyways, “Sox” of different colors and teams with orange rule the day here from a value perspective.

Checking In On Previous “Bets”

One day, the Marlins will start winning those one-score games! In all seriousness, there is a lot to be encouraged here. Over time, I remain confident that the Red Sox and Astros will see their World Series odds be more in their favor; people just aren’t worried about futures markets there. Also, the Red Sox, Mets, and Reds appear to have been very smart opportunistic “bets”, based on their new current price. If you bet the Reds at +1450, you have to be thrilled about the idea that they now have a very serious chance on winning the NL Central.

Overview

Over time, it’s likely that less and less bets will be obvious to make, especially as certain ones have already been recommended. With that in mind, the Red Sox, Astros, and Reds continue to offer the most value. As for other potential bets, since I don’t suggest buying high on the Giants, I do believe you could look to buy low on the White Sox, who have a very favorable schedule coming up and remain the top-performing team in the American League, based on xxWins. We’ll be back in two weeks to look at changes in projections, and how the various betting markets have responded!

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