Thursday, September 7, 2017

NFL Pool Picks 2017 Week 14

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 pick all underdogs in week 14 except LA RAMS -2.5 over philly and HOTLANTA -2.5 over nawlins and TBAY -1 over detroit. 

I use a strategy based on research by Professor Steven Leavitt of Freakonomics fame indicating that oddsmakers recognize that bettors systematically overvalue overdog favourites.  

So far this year, I am 91-95-6 = 55-56-4 road underdogs, 35-38-2 home underdogs and 1-1 home favourites. (I was 0-6 with home overdog picks in the 2016 regular season.) A simple all-underdog strategy defeated all-overdogs during the regular season in 20 of the past 25 years, but just barely most years. Underdogs need to average +1 over the final 4 weeks just to get back even, which is a tall order.

I am tied for 20th out of 98, tied for 17th out of 59 and tied for 17th out of 32 in the 3 pools in which I swim. I take advantage of spread anomalies in these pools, which keeps me out of the shallow end most years.

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.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Major League Baseball (MLB) Inter-league 2017 Recap

The surest outcome in sports was that American League (AL) teams would win the majority of inter-league matches against their National League (NL) opponents in 2017.

The AL's superiority over many years told us that Houston was the better team and would win World Series (WS) game 7 even visiting Chavez Ravine. The AL representative has won 20 of the past 34 World Series

In 2017 AL teams finished 165-143 against NL opponents or 53.57% including a 5th straight AL all-star game triumph and the 7 WS matches. 53.57% in 2017 was below the long-term average over the 14 years of AL domination of inter-league play. Before and after the all-star break, AL teams fell into a 13-33 slump that started with a 2-10 stretch and ended with a 1-10 tailspin. It's interesting that even a 53.57% season-long average can include a 1-10 slide or 9% over 11 matches just as tails can come up 10 out of 11 times once in a blue moon even with a fair coin flip.

The AL has been the superior league by far for more than a decade. 2017 marks the AL's 14th consecutive triumph over the NL starting with 2004. Over the full period of dominance from 2004 on, the AL has won 54.66% of 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. However, 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. 

Another 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 is 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." 

Interesting piece at the All-Star break suggesting that the NL had indeed closed the gap with the AL in the first half of 2017.
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-al-is-still-beating-the-nl-but-maybe-not-for-long/

Monday, March 13, 2017

NCAA March Madness 2017 ATS Recap

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 play-in games. All matches are weighted equally. 

I finished 32-31-4 ATS (including the 4 play-in matches = 2-2 play-in, 18-14 round 1, 7-8-1 round 2, 3-3-2 sweet 16,1-2-1 elite 8, 0-2 final 4). I ended up above the 50% line because in the final, I took UNC -1.5 over Gonzaga. (Doesn't the name Gonzaga remind you of the lead character in the 1960s Japanese horror classic: King Kong vs. Gonzaga.)

I finished 33-34 ATS including the play-in matches in both 2016 and 2015 and lost the finals both years.

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).

After almost 10 years since 2008 of swimming naked (of roundball knowledge) in Archibald's pool, I am ephen-stephen at 313-313-15. Clearly, no evidence that I have a good system for picking March madness winners ATS.

Just by picking all overdog favourites in every NCAA tournament game for the past decade, you would be sporting a 318-308-15 record ATS which is not statistically significantly different from even-stephen.

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

The President 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. This year 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 8-3 ATS against the Baracketer. In 9 years, I am 32-33-1 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.