Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vegas Disrespects D-Backs

Not to beat a dead horse, but there's one measure of team quality I haven't blogged about yet, and it gives additional insight to the true quality of a certain team in Arizona.

I speak of betting odds. The lines set by Vegas and offshore bookies aren't perfect, but in general they accurately reflect the true difference in quality between two teams. If this wasn't the case, pros would crush sportsbooks until they went out of business.

By looking at enough lines over time, we can get a good handle on what the oddsmakers think of a team. The verdict on the Diamondbacks is clear: they're considered a sub-.500 squad.

Combining the money lines from the last 20, 30, 40, or 50 Arizona games gives the same result each time: the average line makes the D-Backs a 52-48 underdog. Now, you would have made a ton of money betting on the Snakes in this span, because they're overcoming the odds and keeping it up. But even after their great July, bookies view them as a .480 team going forward, and teams like that very rarely make the playoffs.

Remember, not every effect is the result of design. Sometimes, the World Series goes to an 83-win team or someone who's never played a live poker tournament before. That doesn't mean they were the best prepared, or that they had the will to win in the clutch. It just happened.

If the D-Backs make the playoffs, we can expect them to have the longest odds of the eight entrants to win the World Series, and with good reason.

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