By Edward Egros
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst
The Professor has a stern warning for today’s class:
Before we generate our own trade hype, it’s important to take a deep breath before looking for betting value at the trade deadline.
Take last season: the Dodgers acquired Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, but didn’t win the pennant even as both played exceptionally well. The Giants picked up Kris Bryant, and even though the ball club won 107 games, they failed to advance past the National League Division Series.
However, the successes were there, too. The Braves needed their midseason acquisition in Jorge Soler to win it all (.300/.391/.800 in the World Series). The Astros made less splashy moves for their bullpen, but in September and October, still finished ninth in MLB in strikeouts per nine innings (9.38) and eighth in xFIP (4.23). My main point is always to take the hype with a grain of salt.
So now that you’ve completed your breathing exercises, let’s break down the latest trades, their impact on the betting odds and if making an investment for that squad’s championship chances is worth it.
P Luis Castillo to the Mariners
As we’ve discussed in this space, there’s no team I was more interested in studying at the trade deadline than the Mariners.
Sure enough, they’re the first to make an earth-shattering move, acquiring starting pitcher Luis Castillo from Cincinnati for a few talented prospects.
From a betting perspective, the move squeezed a lot of value out of Seattle in the futures markets. To win the American League, the M’s odds shortened from +2000 to +1400, and they went from +4000 to +3000 to win the World Series.
Castillo throws fireballs, as his fastball averages almost 97 mph. It may not have much movement, but it doesn’t need to, with an opposing batting average of .124 and a strikeout rate of 45.5%. Strangely though, he has had more successful seasons, like in 2020 with a FIP of 2.65 and more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings. Either way, he’s a stud that will help the Mariners in a big way down the stretch.
The market does not have many starting arms available, and Seattle needed one, so this seems like a win for both teams. And given the Mariners’ playoff drought has lasted longer than any North American team in the men’s four major sports, it’s a move they had to make with a high likelihood of success.
LF Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees
The Bronx Bombers have run away with the AL East and are now sizable favorites to win the pennant. But this move has improved the Yankees’ odds to win the World Series, from second-shortest at +400 to tied for shortest with the Dodgers at +350.
Baseball Reference charts Wins Above Average by position groups, and the Yankees rank 10th at left field, their second-worst ranking ahead of shortstop. Now, New York goes from Joey Gallo, who ranks second in strikeout rate (38.1%) among all hitters with at least 250 plate appearances, to Andrew Benintendi with the 20th-lowest rate (13.3%). He doesn’t have a lot of power, but does know how to get on base with a .387 OBP. Summed up, the Yankees got better in a big way with this trade.
Edward Egros is a sports analytics broadcaster/writer, a sports betting analyst, a data scientist and an adjunct professor of statistics at Pepperdine University. These passions have led him to become a cold brew aficionado. Edward previously worked in local television, notably at the Fox affiliate in Dallas covering the Rangers, Cowboys and high school football. Follow him on Twitter @EdWithSports.
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