Baseball Over/Under Totals

The baseball over/under win totals were posted late February. I had been looking at them for almost every day they were out. I also began to research the types of statistics contribute the most to runs scored by a team. I came across RPA at The Baseball Think Factory.

If you don’t want to click the link, the idea is that every possible outcome a batter can have contributes X runs. Baseball Think Factory determined what those values were, and I used those values and the ZIPS projections developed by Dan Szymborski to create the amount of runs each player would create this season. I added the players on each team to get the runs scored for each team. To get runs given up by each team, I added ZIPS projected earned runs of the players on each team. I divided this number by .92 because that is a rough approximation of the relationship to earned runs and runs.

After calculating the runs scored and runs given up by each team, I used Bill James Pythagorean Theory to calculate the win percentages. Multiplying the win percentage by 162 games gave me the wins for each team.

This system has a lot of assumptions. The biggest one is that every baseball team has the same defensive skill. This system does not include the amount of wins that defense creates/loses. It also assumes that ZIPS is the best projection system. The system also assumes no trades throughout the season. These assumptions, among others, are the reasons these projections could be off. I am only suggesting my top 4 bets as these are the only bets that had a greater than 10 run difference from the Vegas totals.

Without further explanation, here are my best bets for the season-long over/under totals

Houston Astros Over 63 Wins

George Springer introduced as the Houston Astros' 2011 First Round Draft pick (Photo Cred: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America)

George Springer introduced as the Houston Astros’ 2011 First Round Draft pick (Photo Cred: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America)

The Houston Astros are an interesting team for this season. Last summer, I wrote about how they will win a World Series in a couple years. It turns out, the initial stock of young guys that they have been storing up in the minors are ready to perform in The Show.

George Springer is the biggest name. I think that he will end up with a starting job out of spring training, and here is what I think he can do this year. They also traded for Dexter Fowler, which is an upgrade for them. If Jason Castro puts together a 2014 like his 2013 and Chris Carter cuts down on the strikeouts, the Astros have a nice core that can easily clear 63 wins. And don’t forget, Mark Appel, number 1 overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, will probably come up after the Super Two deadline.

I am actually excited to watch the Astros this year, unlike last year’s squad of horrendous talent.

New York Mets Over 73.5 & Chicago Cubs Over 69

Zack Wheeler pitching against the Nationals during the 2013 Spring Training (Photo Cred: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Zack Wheeler pitching against the Nationals during the 2013 Spring Training (Photo Cred: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets and Cubs are in a similar situation as the Astros. They are both rebuilding teams, but they are further along than the Astros.

The Mets are primed with young talent. They have built their farm system through some good trades. They have picked up Zack Wheeler (Carlos Beltran Trade), Travis d’Arnaud, and Noah Syndergaard (R.A. Dickey Trade). They also have drafted and signed international free agents well too with Matt Harvey and Rafael Montero. I expect everyone i have listed, except Harvey, to be playing for the Mets by the end of the year. With the Curtis Granderson signing to help with the offense, they should be able to clear 73 wins with ease and make a run at a .500 record.

For the Cubs, their season is going to depend on Jeff Samardzija future because he is the best pitcher on the Cubs’ staff, and their biggest question is how many runs are they going to give up. They are definitely going to score runs with Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Nate Schierholtz, but the pitching will be in serious question if/when Samardzija gets traded.

You want to know how I know it is in trouble? The ORIOLES got rid of the 2 of the 5 starters in the Cubs’ staff. However, ZIPS projects a breakout for Jake Arrieta and no drop-off from Travis Wood. I trust those projections, and my win total of 80 wins.

New York Yankees Under 86.5

Brian McCann at his press conference after signing with the Yankees (Photo Cred: AP)

Brian McCann at his press conference after signing with the Yankees (Photo Cred: AP)

The Yankees are another year older, and I do not think they upgraded enough in the off-season to get them more wins than last year’s 85. They got big upgrades with Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury. However, that just bolsters the offense, and their pitching was the biggest problem last year.

I believe that the Yankees did not do nearly enough to help the pitching. CC Sabathia hasn’t hit 90 mph yet this spring, and I do not see him improving on last year’s numbers. Also, they can’t count on Masahiro Tanaka to be Yu Darvish. They have 3 starters that are 2 or 3 starters in a good rotation, but no ace. Tack on a terrible back-end of the starting rotation and no Mariano Rivera, the Yankees are gonna give up a ton of runs.

Take these to Vegas, and dominate

Greg Danchik

King of the Hammers

So if you didn’t know, I spent February 5th-8th in the desert all the way in Johnson Valley, California. Now, I will tell you that story.

It all starts on February 4th around 12:30. Actually, it started in December 2013. Heather told me that Eric, her dad, wanted to take us to the desert to watch him race. She didn’t really have to tell me what it was for. Once I found out I would be missing 3 days of classes, I was all in. Fast forward to February 4th around 12:30.

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

I was rushing to finish a homework so that I could get to New York tonight and fly to California in next morning. Then Heather called me telling me the flight from Laguardia to Ontario, California was cancelled.

I was very split about this. Basically, I didn’t want to leave because I was fearful of all the school I was going to miss, and I didn’t know if I really wanted to go out to the desert for 3 days. However, part of me wanted to go out and get a break from school and find out what the huge race called the King of the Hammers was all about.

After an hour phone call with American Airlines, we found a flight out of DC at 7 am on the 5th. My parents got us a hotel room, and we realized that we were going to take most of the 5th to get out to the middle of the desert in Johnson Valley, California.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

We got to the desert around 3:30 in the afternoon, and found the most unbelievable scene, Hammer Town. You get into the middle of no-where, but  instead of just desert, there is a makeshift town built, a town that was almost completely gone by the night of the 8th. In the town there was a giant jumbotron showing video of everything happening across the desert, and on race days, the 6th and 7th, it showed live footage from some of the toughest rock climbs on the course. It was one of the more incredible things to see.

Panarama 1 Panarama 2We climbed on top of one of the trailers of the pit crews to watch qualifying for the big King of the Hammers race on Friday. Eric had already qualified the day before, and he would be starting 3rd in his class of 6, only behind a two-time champion of the King of the Hammers and a professional driver from England. There were about 60-80 cars that raced on Thursday divided into 5 classes. After taking these panaramas, I crashed. I passed out for an hour and a half. Once we woke up, Heather and I got out of trailer and found Eric waiting in line for his inspection. He passed inspection and went onto the stage. To be perfectly honest, Heather and I expected a shoutout from this interview, but that would come in time. It was a good interview, no mistakes or slip-ups. The car was driven off the stage, we all got dinner, and went to bed.

WednesdayInterview

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

It all started with Heather waking up Eric at 6. It wasn’t late or anything, but he was fast asleep and the alarm was not going to work. Eric woke up completely started. It was actually pretty funny. Luckily, there was no reason to be startled. He got ready, and we rested until 7:30. We got ready and got out to the start/finish line right before the race started at 8. Around 8:20 am, we saw Eric and his co-driver Rob take off.

Eric’s race was 2 laps, and they had a 10-hour time limit. It encompassed desert racing and rock climbs. The cars could be going 100 mph at one point, and 30 mins later, they could be stuck climbing rocks. Keep in mind, Eric isn’t a pro-racer. He is a banker from New York that was living an absolute dream.

Over the next two hours-ish, we got coffees from one of the vendors and made lunch in the RV. We got out to Eric’s pit stop just before he arrived around 9:45. We saw his co-driver pull in (his co-driver drove for the 2nd half of the 1st lap), and they had a sweet driver change. Then Eric took off on his second lap. This was the lap that was the toughest and longest because of the big rock climbs.

Heather and I had a decision to make now, do we walk or drive to Chocolate Thunder? It was the toughest rock climb that was visible to the spectators and was about a two mile distance from Hammer Town. Eventually, we decided to walk.

What an experience…

You can't really see the spec of white from this. If you see me around, ask to see it on my phone or zoom in a lot.

You can’t really see the spec of white from this. If you see me around, ask to see it on my phone or zoom in a lot.

Imagine looking to your left and right and seeing nothing but sand. We also had to wear our lab goggles so that we would keep our eyes open. It was a struggle, but we made it, and we got to look back to where we came from. See that small spec of white in the top right, that was the outskirts of Hammer Town. We also made it with perfect timing. We got to see the first car of the day come through Chocolate Thunder. However, we waited about an hour and a half until we got to see the best climb of the day. I apologize for my potty mouth.

As I say in the video, he flew up that climb. He was faster than anyone in his class. Before Eric came up, there were cars stuck, and huge traffic jams of cars taking it slow. Eric dominated that climb unlike anyone we saw.

Heather and I decided to leave when we saw a car parked behind spectators start to fall down the mountain slowly, and people were running away from it. We felt it was the best decision for our well-beings.

We managed to get a ride back in the back of a pickup truck. It was something that I got to cross of fmy bucket list that I never thought was on my bucket list.

Ride in the back of a pickup through the desert

We got back to Hammer Town and we suspected that we would be waiting awhile for Eric. He was hoping to finish in 8 hours, so we were just assuming that would be the time he would show up at. Turns out, we saw him crossing the side of the mountain a little over 6 hours after he started. This was within 25 minutes of the first finisher in his class. Here is the video of him crossing the finish line, courtesy of Heather because my phone died in the middle of filming this.

It took one moment for me to realize how passionate everyone at this race was about off road racing. Once Eric crossed the finish line, he was 4th. He hadn’t made the podium. Yet, there was this emotion that poured out of him. He had only finished, but he had lived his dream and done something incredibly dangerous and come back in perfect condition. I can’t imagine the happiness he felt then, but all I can say is it was one unbelievable spectacle and I am so happy that I got to watch it.

Oh yeah, Eric ended up finishing 3rd. The guy who finished first, skipped the rock climb that you saw in the video. He made the podium. That was a great bonus on top of a great week of living in the desert.

Thank you to Eric for flying us out to California to watch him race, and then driving us over halfway to my house to get my car. Also, thanks to my parents for paying for our hotel room in DC. Thanks to my dad for picking up my car, and my mom for meeting Eric on the New Jersey turnpike.

Finally, I just want to say that my words, pictures and videos do not do it justice. It is way too hard to describe. I can’t possibly describe how great of a time I had and how incredible the races were. I really want to go again, and I want to learn about cars. I barely know anything about cars but this trip made me want to know as much as I can and more. If you are a sports fan, or a car guy, you have to go out there at least once. It is unbelievable, and you will not regret it for one second.

PS: Here is a bad ass clip that I got to see live from the King of the Hammers on Friday and some of my pictures from Friday.

Backdoor is the toughest trail on the course. That climb is taller than me, and cars have to go up it.

Backdoor is the toughest trail on the course. That climb is taller than me, and cars have to go up it.

Two cars are flipped at Backdoor causing a SLIGHT traffic jam.

Two cars are flipped at Backdoor causing a SLIGHT traffic jam.

Tom Wayes basically decided that the normal laws of physics do not apply to him, so he did this. 

Greg Danchik

Dojo’s Take on Championships

LeBron James and the Miami Heat celebrating after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo Cred: Don Emmert/AFP/GettyImages)

LeBron James and the Miami Heat celebrating after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo Cred: Don Emmert/AFP/GettyImages)

How much does winning a championship matter? Can it propel you from being a top 5 player in your sport to being the greatest of all time? How much should it really matter in determining someone’s greatness? I would say that it depends on the sport.

In baseball, a World Series Championship is nice to have when being looked at when getting into the Hall of Fame, but most of the focus is on whether or not they think you took PEDs, their likability as a person, and then they look at statistics (I am clearly over the Hall of Fame voting fiasco). The reason a World Series title isn’t vital when discussing greatness is baseball is a team sport where one player can’t really change the entire outlook of a team.

In basketball, I think it is all that people look at, and as I have said before, I think that is stupid. While basketball is a sport that can be drastically altered by one person, it is still a very team based sport. One player can’t defend or beat 5 other players. I don’t care if you put together the talents of LeBron, Kobe, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, and Magic Johnson into Shaq‘s body; you aren’t going to win 1 on 5. That’s why I think LeBron is the best player I have ever seen play basketball even though a lot of people say MJ because of the 6 titles. *Full Disclosure: I wasn’t old enough to see MJ. I only see highlights that glorify him as a player. That’s a reminder to everyone my age who says MJ is the greatest basketball player of all time.* It has little to do with championships, but it is not the most important thing.

Peyton Manning chucking the football all over the field Sunday Night in 2012 (Photo Cred: David Zalubowski/AP)

Peyton Manning chucking the football all over the field Sunday Night in 2012 (Photo Cred: David Zalubowski/AP)

In the NFL, it doesn’t matter for 21 guys on the field. It does matter for quarterbacks. Again, I think there is way too much emphasis on it, but it’s just the way it is. That’s why Dan Marino doesn’t get as much love as he should. The quarterback has the more control over a sports game than any other position in any sport. He dictates the actions of the whole offense. While he needs to be protected, he can help the protection protect him (Yes, I know that sounds weird). Anyway, this brings me to my point that Peyton Manning‘s legacy as a big talking point this week. I think it shouldn’t be. This one game shouldn’t change anything. In a lot of people’s eyes, Manning will jump to the greatest of all time if he wins this game. In my eyes, his legacy is set in stone as this… He is the greatest quarterback of all time in controlled environment, but wouldn’t be considered that great if he played in New England his whole career.

Greg Danchik