Markets Never Trusted Rangers, Giants


The World Series starts this Wednesday Night with the American League champion Texas Rangers visiting the National League champion San Francisco Giants.

Texas opened as about a -120 favorite to win the series even though the Giants have home field advantage if it goes the distance. Texas is also about -120 in the early number for Game One, with rested and lethal Cliff Lee facing Tim Lincecum, who struggled in relief Saturday Night in Game Six of the NLCS after losing Game Five at home.

The New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies were such prohibitive favorites entering the league championship round that the market just never caught up to reality in either series. The market didn't trust Texas despite the strong statistics of their key pitchers and their impressive win over Tampa Bay in the first round. The market didn't trust San Francisco even with some of the great young arms on that staff.

What do I mean by the 'market?'

*Oddsmakers I talked to really believed that the Phils and Yankees were the much better sides, and priced the games accordingly. This wasn't a case of oddsmakers thinking we had pick-em series, but they had to adjust the line against the public's need to bet favorites. Philly was a whopping -250 to beat the Giants because oddsmakers AND the public assumed it was going to be a squash. The Yankees were -180 for the same reasons, though Cliff Lee gets respect from everyone and he's on the Rangers. If Lee pitched for the Giants, the Phillies line would have been lower. (Plus, Texas had home field in the ALCS while San Francisco didn't in the NLCS)

*Squares (the public) naturally assumed it would be the usual suspects in the World Series. Philadelphia had been there the last two seasons (losing to the Yankees last year, and beating Tampa Bay the year before). The Yankees aren't there as much as the media likes to pretend, but they're still the money favorites every year to win the American League because of their huge payroll.

*Sharps (professional wagerers) weren't exactly chomping at the bit to bet Texas and San Francisco. They recognized the line value with lines shaded a bit against the public. And, a few certainly did talk themselves into betting the BEST pitchers on the dogs in the championship round. But, on a day-by-day basis, I saw more guys shying away from betting than being courageous because they really didn't believe Texas and San Francisco had the juevos to close things out.

You can see the same general lack of respect in the game lines:

Game One: Yanks -135 on the road with Sabathia facing Wilscon
Game Two: Yanks -120 on the road with inconsistent Hughes over Lewis
Game Three: A pick-em game in NY because Lee was on the mound
Game Four: Yanks -160 at home with erratic AJ Burnett facing Hunter

To this point in the series, Texas jumped to a 3-1 series lead...after blowing a 5-1 scoreboard advantage in the first game. It was almost a sweep! Yet, untrustworthy Burnett was pricey in Game Four because everyone wanted to bet the Yanks in a must-win spot.

Game Five: Yanks -180 at home with Sabathia facing Wilson
Game Six: A pick-em game in Texas, with overmatched Hughes facing Lewis again.

Texas won the first meeting of Lewis and Hughes by a 7-2 score, yet they were only pick-em at home on the same field with the same pitching advantage...and a boisterous home crowd hoping to cheer the team on to its first World Series appearance ever. Texas would outscore the Yankees 38-19 over six games, yet never be rated better than pick-em on the Vegas moneylines.


Game One: Phillies -165 at home with Halladay facing Lincecum
Game Two: Phillies -160 at home with Oswalt facing Sanchez
Game Three: Phillies -120 on the road with Hamels facing Cain
Game Four: A pick-em game with Blanton vs. Bumgardner

Here was also had a 3-1 series lead for the overall underdog. Lines didn't take the hint that separation wasn't as great as expected. The Phils were still favored in the last two games, and would have been laying odds at home with Hamels over Cain had the series gone the distance.

Game Five: Phillies -115 on the road with Halladay facing Lincecum
Game Six: Phillies -160 at home with Oswalt facing Sanchez

One lesson you should take from this year...offensive differences don't matter much if you have great pitchers! Everyone has trouble hitting aces, which is why quality pitchers make for such good underdog bets. Also, don't assume that teams who haven't been on TV much in your area are a lot worse than the teams who have been. The media loves playing to East Coast population centers. San Francisco and Texas were better than realized. Frankly, they were A LOT better than most people realized.

*San Francisco was in a dead scoring heat (19-20 loss in runs) as a monster underdog.

*Texas doubled up the Yankees in runs as a sizeable underdog.

by Las Vegas linesmaker Nick Bogdanovich


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