Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 7/20/14

  • July 20, 2014

I’m one who believes that coaches and managers can have a huge impact on the performances of their teams, regardless of the sport. That certainly includes baseball, and there’s not much question I’m more critical than most as far as managers are concerned.

There’s a pretty simple reason for this, really. Far too many current MLB skippers display a consistent and for me, thoroughly aggravating ignorance of meaningful statistical data. I’m not talking about the old school numbers that have been around forever and that are still the most popular. I’m referring to more advanced material, much of which would fall into what can probably best be described as new school data.

One manager who absolutely does not fall into the above category is Joe Maddon, and he had his philosophy and belief in advanced metrics on display again last night in Minnesota. The Rays were matching up with Phil Hughes, who has enjoyed a renaissance campaign for the Twins. The run of the mill managers throughout baseball have pretty much all done the norm with their lineups when facing Hughes, at least as far as their platoon personnel is concerned. Start the lefty hitters, because Hughes is a righty.

Maddon went the opposite route and loaded his lineup with righty hitters. That’s because Hughes has been getting lefties out at a much better rate than he has righties. That’s opposite of the norm, but Maddon obviously decided that the actual numbers were more meaningful than the popular theory and acted accordingly. The result was just what Maddon hoped for, as his Rays got Tampa Bay ace David Price plenty of run support and the dominating southpaw ended up garnering an easy win.

This hasn’t been a good season for the Rays, and while they have clearly picked things up recently, they’re still a long shot to make the playoffs. But that’s sure not on Maddon. He consistently puts his team in the best position to win, and that’s really all anyone can ask.

It’s too bad more of Maddon’s cohorts stubbornly refuse to follow his lead with their respective teams. They’d probably win more if they did, and they’d be far less likely to be subject to ridicule from observers like me in the process.


A very enjoyable Saturday on my personal plays with a net gain of three units on the day. I’m pretty happy with the way things have been going for the last several weeks and will look to maintain that consistency moving forward.

Thus, it’s a good time to take advantage of the current special. Buy one month of all my plays, receive a second month at no additional cost. Plays are emailed as I make them myself with analysis almost always included, and one of my objectives is to get the games out before the lines get beat up, although I’ll also add plays moving closer to game time if warranted. Subscribing is easy enough, just utilize the “buy now” feature on this page. If you happen to be viewing on a cell phone or at another site that features this blog, the best move is to get in touch with me via email at cokin@cox.net.


The Saturday free play on the Pirates was a winner, although I ended up with a push on this game. I decided to create a -1 line because the money line was higher than I like to risk a full unit on. This can be done easily enough by splitting the play between the money line and the runs line, thus manufacturing a -1 line. The Bucs ended up winning by one run, so my money line play got there but the runs line didn’t, and that’s a push. No need for that maneuver with today’s comp, as it’s more competitively priced.

07/20 10:05 AM   MLB   (979) CINCINNATI REDS  at  (980) NEW YORK YANKEES

Take: (980) NEW YORK YANKEES -105

The Yankees have won the first two games in this series, much to the consternation of the majority of bettors. It’s a classic example of wagerers putting too much weight on the starting pitching and not factoring in other elements. I think the biggest flaw most baseball bettors make is overvaluing the starting pitching. This series has been a good example of that, and we’ve seen it in the line movement. In each of the first two games, the Reds have drawn the majority of the ticket volume, but the pro dollars that move the line have been pretty heavy on the Yankees.

I suspect we’ll see the same thing again today. Johnny Cueto is going to be a more enticing option than Hiroki Kuroda and the Reds will win the popular vote by a substantial margin. But don’t be surprised to see the line again head in the opposite direction with the sharper dollars arriving on the Yankees.

Cueto is good enough to win this by himself, and Kuroda is not the pitcher he used to be, so I can understand why so many players will make a case for the road team. And they might well end up getting paid, as the sharp money certainly doesn’t automatically win.

But aside from the starting pitching, this matchup favors the Yankees. The Reds are feeling the effects of being shorthanded with the right side of their infield on the disabled list, and I personally think they need to get a stick or two, even short term, as one or two extra losses could be all it takes to keep this team from playing baseball in October.

As for the Yankees, they’ve sure got their flaws. The infield defense is pretty bad, the starting rotation is going to miss Tanaka at some point and the offense has some holes as well. But a couple of their key hitters are starting to swing the bats better, the bullpen has actually gotten quite strong and at least from a position player standpoint, the Yankees are by far the healthiest they’ve been all season.

So long story short, Cueto rates the clear edge over Kuroda, but the other factors point to the Yankees. That adds up to the home team rating the true favorite role here, and the current line is very close to pick ’em. Mix in the positive momentum for the hosts and I’m compelled to view the Yankees as the right side once more today.