Westgate Las Vegas Superbook (Las Vegas, Nevada)
On Sunday, Westgate released their lines, which were much more favorable for the Indians. Westage put both the Indians and Tigers at 84.5 wins, the White Sox at 81.5, the Royals at 79.5, and the Twins at 71.5. Westgate did not report any juice, and all the articles I found that written about the odds release at least implied that they were all -110/-110, so we’ll assume that’s what they are.
Westgate was taking bets up to $1000, so these openers should be a bit closer to the final lines than what we saw from Atlantis. In 2014, the two books ended up with the same correlation coefficient with team’s actual 2014 records, but Westgate did a much better job when comparing their opening lines to what each team’s average moneyline was over the 2014 season (after removing the vig and adjusting for homefield advantage. There’s a lot of luck and randomness involved in a team’s final record, so using moneylines is a good way to measure how well the opening lines from each sportsbook predicted the true talent of each team.
While Westgate’s line does seem a bit more reliable, which is good news for Indians fans, it is notable that the Indians were the team that the two books disagreed on the most, with three and a half games separating the two lines. Westgate also disagreed strongly on the Angels (89.5 wins to Atlantis’ 86.5) and the Orioles (81.5 at Westgate, 84.5 at Atlantis).
Win total projections offered by Fangraphs (based on Steamer projections) and Baseball Prospectus (based on PECOTA projections) have a similar disagreement, with Fangraphs predicting 84 wins for the Indians and Baseball Prospectus predicting 80 wins. This was tied for the seventh largest difference between the two systems, so while it wasn’t as relatively drastic a difference as the sportsbook it does support the hypothesis that there is a fair amount of uncertainty surrounding the Indians’ 2015 season.
It’s not particularly surprising to see a notable amount of variation in forecasts for the Indians projections, as there are some question marks surrounding the Indians roster. Corey Kluber was so good last year but despite his “pre-breakout” in 2013 (when he raised some eyebrows with the 12th best xFIP of any MLB starter with at least 100 IP) he still has some poor performance in very recent years (150.2 IP in AAA in 2011 with a 5.56 ERA and 4.2 BB/9) that make him tough to project. The rest of the Indians rotation looked fantastic in the second half of 2014, but there is a similar lack of track record that introduces doubt.
On the position player side of things, there are some injury concerns, with some players coming off years in which their stats were tainted by nagging issues (Brandon Moss‘ hip, Jason Kipnis‘ oblique, Nick Swisher‘s knees). It’s hard for projection systems to know how much these injuries impacted their 2014 stats and almost impossible to know how much they will linger in 2015. Another source of uncertainty is the defense. The Tribe’s defense was historically bad in 2014, so bad that some simple regression to mean will make a big difference. With Carlos Santana focused on first base and Jose Ramirez replacing Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop, the defensive unit should have a somewhat stronger foundation, but it’s still a weak unit overall.
We’ll keep you updated on the lines as they come out at more sportsbooks, hopefully with higher limits. Westgate also released divisional odds, but those are only available if you got to their casino in Las Vegas. They may have been given to some members of the press, and if I can find them I’ll post about them. If not, I’m running a simulation of the 2015 season using the implied true talents of the win total lines, so I’ll use that to find playoff odd estimates as well as the win number Indians fans should be thinking about in order for the Tribe to have a good chance of winning the division or making the playoffs as a Wild Card.