Emulating Ted Williams
The members of the PiRate Ratings include a couple of baseball analytic specialists that work during the Major League baseball season as “Moneyball” scouts. You know the type we talk about–when you see a baseball defense shift on a pull hitter, and the hitter hits a sharp liner that bounces into the short outfield, but instead of this becoming a base hit, it is a simple ground out, and the fans all boo because they believe this ruins the game, you can thank some of us for giving the baseball team the data that tells the manager where to place that infielder in the short outfield.
There is a lot more to it. How likely is the player to hit a ground ball on a 2-strike pitch as opposed to when he has no strikes or one strike? How much does it hurt or possibly help the starting pitcher the second and third time through a lineup of opposing batters? Our metric specialists can tell you. Of course, the famous batters’ heat maps are part of the services provided. The opposing pitcher, catcher, and coaching staff know that Joe Lefty hits .150 on sliders on the outside corner at the knees and when he does hit the ball, 95.6% of the time it is a ground ball in the 56 hole (the area halfway between where the third baseman and shortstop normally align.
So, when we tell you we know for a fact how often a .299 hitter will play in game 162 as opposed to a .300 hitter, and how much that .299 hitter will be swinging away on the final game of the season, we know that the .299 hitter in Game 162 will only take a walk if it is intentional, and the .300 hitter will do just about anything to stay out of game 162. Even the .301 or .302 hitter will want to be taken out after a hitless at bat that drops his average to anything above .2995.
Ted Williams was an exception to this rule, and for that reason, we admire greatly the “Greatest Hitter That Ever Lived.” In 1941, with his average just a fraction above .400, he did not have to play on the final day of the season. His manager told him he would sit him to protect the .400 average. After a few expletives delivered to the manager, Teddy Ball Game played not just one game but both games of a meaningless doubleheader.
Williams was not one to sit out a game just to pad his stats. The fact that his average only rounded up to .400 from .39955 also motivated him to play. So, what happened that Sunday afternoon? He got a hit in his first at bat of game one, and that brought his average over .400, with no rounding needed. Manager Joe Cronin told him to sit, and Willliams cussed and said he was playing both games from start to finish. Williams continued to hit and hit the rest of the afternoon and finished the season at .407.
What does this have to do with picking football games in parlays, you may ask? It is very simple. Last week, we selected six parlays all at better than 12-10 odds, and we won all six games! The mythical payout for this 6-0 week was a return on investment of 151%. For the season, that brought our batting average into positive territory, and we now show a 12% return on investment for the season.
We could easily ask the manager to take us out of the lineup and be safe knowing that we beat Las Vegas for the year. A 12% ROI is 5% better than the Dow Jones Industrial Average year-to-date return, and we would feel safe in saying that the DJIA is not going to return 12% this year.
Call us the Ted Williams of parlay pickers. We have no intention of sitting out and guaranteeing a winning season. First and foremost, if we go 6-0 every week for the rest of the year or the rest of our existence, it won’t be any different from going 0-6 forever, because as we hope by now you can recite in your sleep, “We NEVER really place monetary bets on anything.” Okay, if you say options in the options market are bets, then maybe you can say this, but the options market is different because it is a legitimate profession that supplies an essential function to the workings of the American Corporate economy.
Second, what fun would it be if we did not issue our wacky picks every week. So, you get picks again today, and you will get them next week and every week there is a full schedule of games. We hope to stay on the plus side of 0, but the important thing is to just enjoy the picks and give our reasons for why we believe out math might help us earn an extra few percentage points.
Therefore, here are our selections for this week.
1. College Parlay at +140
Georgia Southern over Louisiana-Lafayette
Virginia Tech over Georgia Tech
Notre Dame over Army
Miami (Fla.) over Virginia
The key selection here is the Notre Dame game. In our opinion, the Irish should be about -900 against Army, but the numbers are heavily skewed in Army’s favor. Ponder this. Notre Dame played Navy last week and got to experience the multiple option schemes of the Midshipmen in live game action. You cannot ask for better defensive preparation to face this offense than getting to face it two weeks in a row. We are old enough to remember when one third of all college teams ran either the wishbone or split veer offense. There were many times where a defense faced this offense in consecutive weeks, and the second time around, the results were much better for the defense, especially when the second opponent was not as good as the first. The percentage chance of performing much better against the second option team was something like 85 to 90%.
As a case in point, let’s look at our hometown team in Nashville, Vanderbilt. The year was 1974, and Coach Steve Sloan was about to guide the Commodores to a 7-3-1 regular season, the best in 19 years. In September of that year, Vanderbilt faced number one Alabama, who ran the wishbone under Bear Bryant and would be on the way to their second consecutive 11-0 regular season.
Vanderbilt gave Alabama its toughest game of the regular season, actually stopping their wishbone attack in the second half, losing 23-10. The following week, the Commodores hosted a ranked Florida team that used the same wishbone offense under Coach Doug Dickey. The Gators were running over opponents, but on this day, they met a Vanderbilt defense that had stopped Alabama’s offense in the second half the week before. Florida tried running the fullback inside, and Vanderbilt stuffed the run. They tried the outside veer and regular option, and Vanderbilt repeatedly threw Gator backs for losses. Only a couple of costly turnovers prevented the Commodores from slaughtering the Gators that day, and the 24-10 Vandy win was not indicative with how well the Commodore defense controlled the game.
For this reason, we were almost ready to take Notre Dame -510 and put up all of our profit to date and call this our only pick for the week. We believe the Irish have a 97% chance of winning this game and that Army will struggle to top 15 points.
2. College Parlay at +149
Wyoming over UNLV
North Carolina over Duke
Charlotte over Rice
Colorado over Arizona
3. Colege Parlay at +141
Washington over USC
Miami (Ohio) over Buffalo
Central Florida over Cincinnati
Washington St. over California
4. NFL Parlay at +147
Baltimore over Cleveland
Washington over Minnesota
Arizona over San Francisco