Thursday, March 29, 2018

Major League Baseball (MLB) Inter-league 2018

The surest outcome in sports has been that American League (AL) teams will win the majority of inter-league matches against their National League (NL) opponents. After a 21-40 start, the AL has clawed back to 33-44. Could this be the year that the AL finally strikes out? Even if the AL returns to its past dominance over the rest of 2018, I would expect the AL to win 10-15 more inter-league matches than the NL over the remaining 2/3 of the regular season. The NL may well win the year for the first time in 15 years. See Neil Paine of 

The AL has been the superior league by far for more than a decade. The AL has 14 consecutive triumphs over the NL from 2004 through 2017. Over the full period of dominance from 2004 through 2017, the AL won 54.66of all matches -- regular season, all-star and World Series

Nevertheless, over this 14-year period of AL dominance the NL and AL are tied 7-7 in World Series triumphs. Over this period, the AL has won 40 of 76 WS matches or 52.6%. The NL has had the good luck to distribute its WS match wins efficiently enough to end up tied 7-7. 

Over a longer period, the AL representative has won 20 of the past 34 World SeriesAnother indicator of the AL's long-term dominance is the fact that the AL has won 17 of the last 20 all-star games to reach a decision and 23 of the last 29.  

The only positive sign for the NL is that the AL's 53.7% inter-league average (including All-Star and World Series matches) from 2010-17 was below the 55.9% average from 2004 through 2009. 

And, with the NY Mets, Chicago Cubs and LA Dodgers now run by AL-analytics-alumunae, the years of NL inferiority may be numbered. The Cubs were the best team in either league in 2016 and were 19-8 in their regular season and World Series matches against AL teams. The Dodgers were 19-10 against AL opposition in 2017 including 7 WS matches. The Cubs and Dodgers remain the exception in the NL. Until the analytic approach spreads throughout the NL, the theme for NL management as a whole will continue to be the Scarecrow's song from the Wizard of Oz: "If I only had a brain." 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

NCAA March Madness 2018 Recap ATS

Official Godiva toy boy and fiancĂ© Archibald organizes a friendly, non-profit office pool for the NCAA men's tourney. Instead of picking bracket winners, players in dearest Arch's pool pick winners against the spread (ATS) each and every day as the tournament unfolds. The winner of his winner-take-all pool is the contestant who picks the most winners against the spread over 67 matches including the first 4 play-in games. All matches are weighted equally. 

I rely on economists' studies showing that heavy underdogs win more than their fair share of college basketball games against the point spread, while "non-heavy" overdogs win slightly more than 50% (although this particular result is not statistically significant).

I finished 30-37 in 2018. After 11 years since 2008 of swimming naked (of roundball knowledge) in Archibald's pool, I am below ephen-stephen at 343-350-15. Clearly, no evidence that I have a good system for picking March madness winners ATS.

By picking all overdogs in every NCAA tournament game for the past decade, you would be sporting a 349-344-15 record ATS. 

In the final, I was wrong picking underdog Michigan +6.5 over Villanova based on Freakanomics Professor Steven Leavitt's surmise that bettors systematically overvalue the overdog and gaming houses do not adjust for this knowledge in championship finals.  

Lady G vs. Baracketer-in-Chief
Former President Obama picks winners straight-up with no point line for each bracket and round.

Like almost everyone else, the former President was way off this year picking only 1 of the final 4 and 2 of the elite 8 and with his winner pick MSU out in round 2. Howvever, Obama got UNC right as the 2009 and 2017 winner. After a tough time in 2010 and 2011 with none of his final 4 picks coming through, he correctly picked 5 of the elite 8 in 2013 and 2014 as well as 6 of 8 in 2012 and 2015. Not too shabby. In 2017, he picked 10 of the sweet 16.

When he picks upsets in the early rounds, I can identify games where Lady Godiva and the Baracketer-in-Chief disagree. This year, I finished 4-3 against Obama's picks. In 10 years through 2018, I am 36-36-1 womano-a-mano against the Baracketer.

Speaking of mano-a-womano, kudos to the former President and hopefully future Speaker of the House for also picking the women's NCAA brackets. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

NFL Pool Picks ATS 2017-8 Recap

In the non-profit, just-for-fun National Football League (NFL) pools organized by present and past Godiva toy boys Archibald and Reginald and the Randy Badger, Archibald's local gastropub, I finished tied for 16th out of 98, tied for 15th out of 59 and tied for 16th out of 32. 
I take advantage of spread anomalies in these pools, which keeps me out of the shallow end most years. With the true point spreads, my picks for the 2017 regular season finished 116-132-8 = 67-80-5 road underdogs, 47-49-3 home underdogs and 2-3 home favourites. 
I use a strategy based on research by Professor Steven Leavitt of Freakonomics fame indicating that oddsmakers recognize that bettors systematically overvalue overdog favourites. An all-underdog strategy recorded only the 6th losing regular season in the past 26 years.  
Small consolation that I got my Super Bowl LII pick right with underdog  PHILLY +4 over NE CHEATRIOTS. Professor Leavitt thinks the SB underdog is always the best bet in sports. So far, underdogs are XXVI-XXIV-II in the 1st LII SBs. Another XMXLVIII SBs and we will have statistically significant evidence.
Another reason to pick Philly in the SB was that National Football Conference (NFC) teams were XLI-XXIII against American FC teams during the regular season and XLII-XXIII including the SB.
How sweet it was to see "Friends of Trump" Kraft, Belicheat and Brady taste rare defeat.
I finished 5-6 for my 14th losing year out of the last 15 picking play-off matches ATS.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

CFL 2017 ATS Recap

To humour my Canadian toy boy and fiance-in-perpetuity Archibald, I participate in his non-profit Canadian Football League (CFL) pool against the spread (ATS).
I finished 40-45-1 ATS = 14-12 road underdogs, 14-16 home overdogs, 7-9 road overdogs and 5-8-1 home underdogs. Road teams were 45-40-1.
2017 was my 3rd losing CFL year ATS out of 9.
For the Grey Cup final, I incorrectly picked ATS CALGARY -7.5 over TORONTO. The underdog in a major championship is the best bet in sports as explained by Freakanomics Professor Steven Leavitt. And, underdogs are now 8-2 ATS in the last 10 Grey Cups. I picked against the underdog in the 2017 Grey Cup to honour and humour Arch and in hopes that western dominance was not fully factored in to the point spread. For what it's worth (nada), I am 7-3 ATS in the past 10 Grey Cups since moving to Canada to be with Arch and to get away from former toy boy Reginald.
I am 52.2% over 9 years picking CFL winners ATS starting in 2009. Not enough matches to be statistically significantly better than 50% dart-throwing, but I am still proud of being above 50% over 9 years. However, before I start calling myself the CFL ATS Nostradamus, I have to admit that I am behind a simple all-underdogs strategy at 53.4% over 2009-2017. 
Arch points out that western teams were 148-86-2 straight-up against eastern teams from 2012 through 2017 and 125-108-3 ATS including Grey Cups and other playoff matches. The west has won 3 of the last 5 Grey Cups and 8 of the past 13. In 2017, the west was 30-12-1 straight-up and 23-20 ATS. Arch was overconfident in western power and wrongly believed that last-place BC was better than any eastern team and would prove it in the last week of the regular season by keeping Toronto from winning 1st in the east. After week 7, dearest Archibald correctly predicted that Saskatchewan would finish 4th in the west and cross over to the eastern playoffs. But, he was wrong with his prediction that Saskatchewan would represent the east in the Grey Cup.