Pricing The Red Sox

Nick Bogdanovich: Pricing Red Sox STILL Difficult

A week ago I talked about the challenge oddsmakers were having putting accurate prices on Boston Red Sox games. We're talking about what's supposed to be a GREAT team…playing in must-win situations every day…yet they continue to fall apart before everyone's eyes.

Since that article ran:

Boston (-160) beat Toronto 18-6
Boston (-130) lost to Toronto 5-4
Boston (pk) lost to Tampa Bay 9-2
Boston (-140) beat Tampa Bay 4-3
Boston (-170) lost to Tampa Bay 4-3
Boston (+130) lost to Tampa Bay 8-5
Boston (-165) lost to Baltimore 6-5

That's a 2-5 week, playing nothing but home games…and being favored or pick-em six of the seven times they took the field. Counting the moneyline, that 2-5 record was more like 2 wins and 6.75 losses, which is negative 4.75 units of you're betting on the Red Sox to get their act together and start winning.

After the Tampa Bay series, Boston was 22 games over .500 in your newspaper standings, but was minus three betting units for the whole season because they're prices are so high. They were basically break even for the year before last week.

The good news for Boston is that ace starter Josh Beckett came back and was able to get a win. And, seven of the last 10 games on the schedule are against lowly Baltimore…which you'd think would be REALLY good news. But, there are still legitimate reasons for Red Sox fans to be worried…and legitimate influences that make this a tough team for Vegas oddsmakers to price correctly.

*Boston is 2-10 its last 12 games, and 4-14 its last 18 games. They're obviously not performing like a playoff contender, or somebody who should be -160 or higher whenever they take the field at home.

*Baltimore isn't exactly tanking their way to the finish line. The Orioles won four of their last five entering this series…against the likes of playoff contenders Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. And, Baltimore had won 7 of 11 dating back to a couple of wins over the league leading New York Yankees. Monday afternoon's victory for the O's made it 5-1 the last six, and 8-4 the last 12.

You see this in your Monday morning newspaper standings, and you think it's going to be easy:
Boston 87-65
Baltimore 62-89

You see this over the last 12, and things get messier:
Baltimore 8-4
Boston 2-10

A situation like this is where it really hits home how oddsmakers price against THE MARKET rather than what's happening on the field. If oddsmakers give Boston respect in the line…but bettors line up on the Red Sox anyway, then oddsmakers are ecstatic. They don't care if they keep making Boston a favorite while the Red Sox keep losing. They get a 'D' on the report card for 'matching reality' but an 'A-Plus' on the report card for MAKING MONEY. That's what it's all about.

If bettors were lined up against Boston…and sportsbooks were getting hurt…that would be another story. I know many sharps who are fading Boston. The market as a whole has been where it's supposed to be. To the degree the public is betting baseball, squares are asking the must-win team to keep winning.

Just remember as you handicap baseball this week, that oddsmakers are pricing based on the market much more than they are what's happening on the field. They are thinking, 'How are people going to bet Boston this week?' A question like, 'How is Boston playing?' is of secondary concern.

If you're trying to pick winners, this creates a window of opportunity for you. Those realizing that Boston was in big trouble have been cleaning up during this recent slump. Maybe it will continue, maybe it won't. It's your job to find betting value based on what the Vegas lines aren't capturing.

by Las Vegas linesmaker Nick Bogdanovich

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