Often we are wondering how teams failed to live up to their expectations during a season or as we recap the performances once the season is complete. We tend to look at performance to see if there were an abundance of underachievers. An overlooked area is injuries. We need to pay close attention to these during the season as certain players absent from lineups will vary the probabilities of their team winning. I think this is a common thought. The betting odds should take this into account on a daily basis though, so to take advantage of those injuries, one will have to be more adept at player valuation than the sportsbook. Certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but not really what handicappers do. Here is a better thought. Look for injury “clusters” by teams. The more payroll on the disabled list, the more likely a team will not have the success that was planned for it. The quicker one can spot these issues, the better forecasting we can do which will allow us the ability to spot playoff scenarios before the odds change and give us edges! Let’s take a look.
It is true that some organizations are more equipped to handle cluster injuries to their team than others, but they are still going to be weaker than originally thought. Teams like NYY and LAD are deep in talent, so they are less affected until they get into a series with the best teams in the game. Other teams just wilt away! We will look at the last couple of seasons’ team records, forecasts, and injuries to see if we can spot trends.
This is the injury report of the top 5 teams in 2021. it is laid out by the number of players, how many days are lost, and by payroll. It is ranked in payroll lost which is also a good indicator of the types of players injured. The idea that the best players get paid the most applies here.
The number one team on the list is LAA. They lost $94 million in payroll to injuries! Their team wins total was 83.5. They actually produced 77. Missing Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon is an issue for sure. It makes a playoff contender an under .500 team. The WSH is 2nd. Their wins total was 84.5 and they finished with 65! Again, a playoff contender falls to the wayside. NYM finished 3rd on this list. Their wins total was 90.5 and they produced 77 wins! Again, we see the same mantra happening. Playoff contenders falling to the wayside. HOU was 4th. Their wins total was 87.5. They produced 95! The first team to overcome the injury issues. Could be they had LAA in their division who fell off or just they have a deep roster. I’ll say it is both. NYY finished 5th on the list. Their season wins were 95.5 and they produced 92. The culmination of thought here is that several playoff-contending teams fell short of expectations primarily due to over abundance of injuries to their team. This creates spots for other teams and this is where we have to become sharp at spotting the teams that have a good chance of becoming contenders over others, then make some future wagers to give us leverage when the playoffs start!
I skipped the 2020 season as it was only 60 games, so here is the 2019 season. This list sees NYY with an astronomical amount of payroll lost! First of all over $140 million dollars and second, virtually double the next worst injured team. NYY season wins total was 97.5 and they produced a whopping 103! Excellent depth to achieve this many wins despite the injury losses! CHI is next. Their season win total was 87.5 and they produced 84. Here we see a team forecast to compete for the division crown and they finished 3rd. MIL was next up on the list. Their season win projection was 86.5 and they produced 89 wins! Another team that overcame the injury bug. They made the playoffs as a wild card. Again the NYM shows up here. This time in the 4th spot. Their season win total was 85.5 and they produced 86 wins. They just missed the playoffs. The PHI came in 5th. Their win total was 89 and they produced 81 missing the playoffs as well. This season saw a couple of teams overcome their injuries to make playoff runs.
The 2018 season sees the NYM as the team with the most injuries with nearly $70million dollars of payroll lost. Their win total was 81 and they produced 77 finishing 4th in the division and missing the playoffs. SF is next up. Their win total was 81.5 and they produced only 73 wins. Again not making the playoffs and finished 4th in the division. TOR was 3rd on the list. Their win total was 81 and they produced 73. A common theme for this season, they missed the playoffs and finished 4th in the division. STL was next on the list. Their win total was 85.5 and they had 88 wins. The only team with to overcome the injury bug. The LAA shows up 5th on the list. Their win total projection was 84.5 and they produced 80. They did not make the playoffs and finished 3rd in the division.
Overall, there is a theme here. Team injury clusters do impact the performance of a team to the degree that the team will not make the playoffs. Because of this, it allows other teams to “move up” and take that open spot to the playoffs. The quicker we can forecast the teams with good probabilities to “move up”, the better our chances of making quality futures wagers. Futures wagers give us leverage. If we, for example, were to have wagered on BOS in the 2021 season to make the playoffs, we could have made a profit there and we could use that winning ticket as hedging leverage for wagering playoff games. Even if we went on to wager them as AL Pennant winners, we would have had leverage to hedge. It is all about giving yourself opportunities to make smart wagers, and oftentimes, having future tickets puts yourself in good spots to make great smart wagers!