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The following is not a preview so much as an attempt to start a conversation about Cleveland’s chances in 2006, in light of some different projection systems and expectations produced by the free market.

Last year in this space, I did a run-down of some of the available “investment” markets that pertained to the team and how various projection systems felt about the futures markets and propositions. This year, I will do the same.

I suppose that it goes without saying, but the following is for entertainment purposes only. This goes double for you non-Nevada American readers, as somebody went and ruined all the fun.

Last Season, the over/under line for Cleveland wins was set at 89.5. While a naked-eye fast glance at that number – with visions of all the young players building upon their breakout or semi-breakout 2005 seasons – had many believing that the number was a bit low, Bill James’ plexi-glass principle presented reason for concern. The projection systems were not fooled, as each had them pegged for under 89.5 wins.

In addition to the win total, last year’s preview showed some match-ups being offered by sports books, for example: Cleveland -7.5 wins vs. Philadelphia. There were nine such markets detailed in this space last season, and the three projection systems fared very well: PECOTA was 8-0-0, Diamond Mind 7-2-0, and ZiPS 6-2-1.

There were also individual fantasy style bets to be considered, such as who would hit more homeruns, Hafner -2.5 vs. Howard. We know how that one turned out. On the fantasy propositions, PECOTA finished 5-3-0, ZiPS 4-3-0.

After searching some websites that offer wagering, I have culled some future and proposition markets that will be presented below, along with how various projection systems feel about them.

Win Total

The consensus win total that I have gleaned from the wagering community is 86.5.

Whereas last season the projection systems were unanimous (and correct) in picking Cleveland to finish under its win total, this season the systems are unanimous in picking them to finish over the total.

86.5 Wins Over (91.5) Over (87.3) Over (87.7

The numbers here were generated by the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog, which ran a number of simulations based on some different projection systems.

The over projection is supported by (among other things) the fact that Cleveland posted a 78-84 record in 2006 despite having a BP Adjusted Standings Report third order record of 88.7-77.3. This was the largest such discrepancy in baseball and the implication is that their inefficiency in 2006 was fluky and will prove to be transient. Given that bullpen strength is the most oft-cited factor by those who think that some team characteristics belie the assumption that they will regress toward efficiency-adjusted records, there is reason for cynics and believers alike to expect improvement, as all can agree that Cleveland’s bullpen will be stronger in 2007 than it was in 2006.

Subjectively, I think that the line set by book-makers, 86.5, in suppressed by an inflated public perception of two of Cleveland’s divisional foes. Having to face Chicago and Detroit so often may not be as painful as it appears.

Wins Match-ups

In these wagering markets, the bettor is asked to consider one team’s total wins in relation to another’s.

-4.5 San Diego SD +4.5 SD +4.5 SD +4.5
-9.5 Cincinnati Cle -9.5 Cle -9.5 Cle -9.5
+3 New York (NL) Cle +3 Cle +3 Cle +3
-5.5 Atlanta Cle -5.5 Cle -5.5 Atl +5.5

There is a clear trend here, as in the win total market, of the projection systems liking Cleveland.

At first glance, I do not see any extremely “easy pickins” among those four match ups, but if forced, I would probably lean to Atlanta +5.5 and Cleveland +3 vs. the Mets.

Player Match Ups

These markets exist at the nexus between fantasy and wagering, wherein the goal is to pick which player in the match up will out-perform the other in the given statistical category, keeping in mind the line.

Stat Match Up Shandler PECOTA ZiPS
Hits Martinez +2 v. Mauer Martinez Mauer Mauer
Hits Sizemore +5.5 v. Rollins Rollins Rollins Sizemore
Hits Hafner +2 v. Fielder Fielder Hafner Fielder
HR Hafner -1 v. Dunn Hafner Dunn Dunn
RBI Hafner -12.5 v. Bay Hafner Bay Hafner
R Hafner +6.5 v. Holliday Hafner Hafner Holliday
R Sizemore -14.5 v. Ichiro Ichiro Sizemore Sizemore
R Sizemore -2.5 v. Utley Sizemore Utley Sizemore
SB Sizemore +2.5 v. Damon Damon Sizemore Sizemore
HR Sizemore +4.5 v. Soriano Soriano Soriano Soriano
Wins Westbrook -2.5 v. James Westbrook Westbrook Westbrook
Wins Sabathia +0.5 v. Mussina Sabathia Sabathia Sabathia

There are only three consensus picks: Sizemore not to finish within 4.5 home runs of Alfonso Soriano, Westbrook to better Chuck James by at least 3 wins, and Sabathia to get at least as many wins as Mike Mussina. The Sizemore/Soriano homer match up seems like a particularly strange line – intuitively, one would think that the handicap should be closer to 10.

Player Stats

These markets pose the simple question of whether a certain player will finish over or under a certain statistical threshold.

Player Stat Threshold Shandler PECOTA ZiPS
V. Martinez BA .303 Over (.309) Under (.290) Over (.304)
V. Martinez RBI 90 Over (91) Under (80) Over (92)
T. Hafner HR 42.5 Over (45) Under (37) Under (34)
T. Hafner RBI 110 Over (121) Under (109) Over (114)
G. Sizemore HR 29.5 Over (32) Under (25) Under (27)
G. Sizemore RBI 90 Over (97) Over (91) Under (85)
G. Sizemore R 120.5 Under (116) Under (104) Over (126)

The online establishment that offers these player stats markets stipulates that a player must play in 140 Major League games during the season, or else the bet will be ruled “no action” (i.e. the stake returned to the bettor). Without such a rule, the lines would have to be lower to compensate for the possibility of a lengthy DL stint – something that PECOTA’s weighted mean approach picks up on by picking virtually all “unders”.

Miscellaneous Markets

Proposition Line
Cleveland to win AL Central +300
Cleveland to win AL Pennant +1200
Cleveland to win World Series +2120
Hafner to lead MLB in Home Runs +1500
Borowski to lead MLB in Saves +900
Sabathia to lead MLB in Wins +2000
Sabathia to win AL Cy Young Award +1500
Hafner to win AL MVP Award +1200
Sizemore to win AL MVP Award +1500
Wedge to win AL Manager of the Year Award +700

One interesting thing that I noticed in perusing these markets is that the +700 odds on Wedge to win the AL Manager of the Year Award actually make him the favourite, which is sensible. Wedge will be managing a team that is a virtual lock to improve and has a decent chance to win a division that many believe (rightly or otherwise) to be the best in baseball.

Another notable thing is that the odds to win the pennant are slightly greater than half the odds to win the World Series, indicating an appropriate American League bias.

Five For My Entertainment Purposes Only

1. Per the projection system consensus above, I’ll take over 86.5 wins.
2. I like Atlanta more than most this season. Give me Atlanta +5.5 over Cleveland in the battle of two teams with great offenses and offensive logos.
3. Grady Sizemore +2.5 stolen bases over the aging Johnny Damon.
4. Victor Martinez under .303 batting average.
5. Sizemore for MVP at +1500.

What do You Guys Think?

Bauxites, which five of these propositions/futures would be most likely to fulfill your entertainment purposes (only)?
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VBF - Saturday, March 24 2007 @ 02:48 AM EDT (#164674) #
This team's rotation is set. The offense will be there, even if Peralta puts up a similar year. If the team doesn't crack 85 wins, it will be because nobody stepped up in the bullpen.

If Cabrera, Mastny, or any of the free agents they brought in can at least be decent, this team could win 100+ games. I'm excited for them. This is a city that really could use a playoff team to spur their economy.

Magpie - Saturday, March 24 2007 @ 09:05 AM EDT (#164677) #
I don't believe in investments.

I believe they exist, and that there are people out there... investing, even as we speak.  I just don't believe I have any money to invest with. And if my memory serves me well, I never did have any money to invest with. And if the future resembles the past, as it often does, I'll probably never have any money...

I believe in Pythagoras, who as it happens no longer exists, and the 2006 Indians missed their Pythagorean expectation by a lot. By an historic lot - they were the fourth team in the last hundred and some odd years to outscore the opposition by more than 70 runs while somehow losing more games than they won. (The others are the 2005 Blue Jays, and the 1955 and 1958 Cincinnati Reds.) And if the future resembles the past, as it often does, they're not going to do that again.

So there will be a rebound effect here. But I'm starting to wonder about Eric Wedge. The reports all seem positive, but this team seems to underachieve in odd and novel ways. I seem to recall them playing poorly in one-run games one year, despite having a fabulous bullpen (should be a plus in close games) and hitting loads of home runs (always a plus in low-scoring games, which one-run games tend to be.) There's something peculiar happening here. So....

85-77, third place. (I know, I already projected the White Sox to finish third at 91-71. But I've since decided the Tigers will tumble to fourth, so I now say White Sox will be second! Hang on... that means I'm picking the Twins?)

Mike Green - Saturday, March 24 2007 @ 11:11 AM EDT (#164679) #
Don't worry, Mags.  You're not alone.  I'm picking 5 non-division winning  teams ending up between 88 and 91 wins in the AL, , two from the East and three from the Central.  It'd be cool to have a 5 way tie for the wild card...can someone refresh my memory what would happen then?

Anyways, the Indians are my pick in this division.  I like the rotation and the lineup.  I think the bullpen will be good enough for them to make it to 93 wins, which should be enough.
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