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Weekend Coverage: Betting on the Mets

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The author looks at the odds for all things Mets.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL

Long: The Mets!


From the Mets inception in 1962 until June 1, 2012, Major League Baseball (or MLB) pitchers combined to throw 131 no-hitters. None, of course, were thrown by Mets until Johan "No-han" Santana's gem last Friday. That was game 8020 in Mets history.

What are the odds it would take that long?

Well, no-hitters have gotten more common in recent years. And there are 30 teams now, whereas there were only 20 when the Mets were born. So let's use a ballpark estimate of three no-hitters per MLB season. And let's also assume it's a random event, and there's no more or less chance for the game to be against a team like the Mets (with traditionally good pitching, almost always playing in a home stadium, and having better than average run suppression).

Considering all of that information, there's about a 0.7% chance of playing 8020 games and never throwing a no-no.

So yes, that was quite the monkey the Mets finally got off their backs. And as a Mets fan, I probably could not have written a better script. The set up included an ace pitcher coming off major surgery; it was a home game; and there were ghosts of the heartbreaking 2006 NLCS loss in the house, namely Adam Wainwright, Carlos Beltran, and Yadier Molina. What a way to write history.

Short: The Mets

Mets fans have had surprising fun so far in 2012. The Amazin's are within spitting distance of first place, and are guaranteed to remain over 0.500 through the weekend, even with an implosion vs. the Yankees.

But the good times may soon evaporate if you believe in mean reversion.

Baseball Prospectus (and all other stats sites) are total buzzkills. Take these Adjusted Standings. The Mets' actual winning percentage is pretty good. But then you see their First Order Win Percentage, based purely on the runs they scored vs. the runs they've allowed, is not so good. It implies that the Mets have done inordinately well in close games (which tend to even out over time) and not so well in games where they pile on the runs (or get piled on), which is sometimes a better sign of quality.

Now if you had a very good bullpen, you can outplay your run differential. The Mets don't have a very good bullpen.

But sometimes your run total statistics can mislead. Even if you get lots of hits and walks -- and some power hits -- it won't help if you don't sequence them well. Baseball Prospectus factors that into Second Order Win Differential, which is the projected runs you should have scored based on your underlying offensive totals. Well, the Mets do no better there; their "timeliness" is ordinary. Third Order Win Differential adjusts for strength of schedule and... yadda yadda yadda. No matter how you slice it, the Mets have overachieved.

Hopefully their analysis is all wrong. Only time will tell.

Long: Mets-related bets

This season, the over/under for Mets wins heading into this season was in the low to mid 70s.

Even if you believe all of the above stats geekery, the Mets now project better than that. That's thanks to the wins they already have in the bank. If they play at a .475 clip the rest of the way, they will end up with 81 wins. That's truly an accomplishment. They play in a very tough division, and they get no break in interleague vs. the American League (or AL) East. Oh, and they have one very good hitter. But will it amount to anything?

Another prop bet that worked out for the Mets was their record compared to the Yankees. The spread was 20-21 games. If the Mets win 81, the Yankees will have to win 102... and in the AL East, that feels incredibly unlikely.

The Mets have made regular game betters happy as well, as per data from Covers.com. They rank third in "money" at $934 after Wednesday's games. That number uses $100 as a "unit", and assumes you bet the money line on the Mets each game to either win a unit (if they were the favorite) or risk a unit (as the underdog).

Short: Mets post-dated tickets

The hottest Met ticket this year is for a game that already happened: The aforementioned Santana no-hitter.

With any historic sporting event, used (or unused) ticket stubs are always a popular piece of memorabilia. The ticket after-after market begins trading within moments of the final out, buzzer, or whistle. As far as actively traded ticket stubs, many believe that Santana's no hitter is proving to be the most expensive after-after market in history. This obviously excludes one-off gems like the first ever baseball ticket from 1869, which you can have own for a cool $25,000, or a stub to Hank Aaron's 715th homerun, which lists for $5,000.

As far as modern history goes, the Mets' first no-hitter is going for 146% more than stubs for Roy Halladay's second ever post season no-hitter. Currently, there are over 50 stubs for Santana's no-hitter on eBay, some with a buy-it-now price of well over $200. Our average of $182 is 119% higher than the average price for Mets tickets in 2012.

Currently, the top priced game of the year are June 23 vs. Yankees, which is selling for $166, or 8% below a Santana stub. As a point of comparison, Halladay's post-season no-hitter sold for 42% less than the average game ticket, and just 20% higher than the Phillies $62 regular season average in 2010.

I guess it's not really a ticket, but rather a memento of a historic game. But $200? Seriously? Give me an actual game, and if its at Citi Field, a Shake Shack burger.

Twitter: @agwarner
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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