How much worse are the Houston Astros than they were 2 years ago?
First, let's remember how good we thought the Astros were back then. Over the 350 games the Astros played over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the Astros had an average lay price of over -200.
Over these past 2 seasons - last year's 60 game sprint and this current season - the Astros are only laying on average about -145, over the course of 170 games.
At this point - 18 months and a pandemic removed from everyone caring about the Astros cheating - I think the requisite downgrade the market has put on the Astros is unwarranted. In my opinion, the players have moved past and the fans taunting them about this particular topic doesn't bother them anymore.
Players thought to have fallen off a cliff statistically due to no longer having an information advantage through their cheating, those players are raking again. Jose Altuve, for example, who leads the team with 23 HRs. Altuve saw his OPS drop off a cliff in 2020, from a stellar .900 in 2019 to a borderline unplayable .600 last year.
Now in 2021 Jose Altuve's OPS is back to .860 - not knowing the pitches and everything. That tells me the negative effect of the cheating scandal was largely psychological. Theoretically, the road hitting performance for players like Altuve should not have been affected by the team getting busted for cheating. Remember, the Astros weren't banging trash cans on the road. They still had to guess - at least half the time.
No one was more the face of the cheating scandal than Altuve, with his memorable jersey non-rip episode. Looking back, it makes sense that in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal - and a pandemic jilted season - Altuve would be liable to have an off a couple of months at the plate. Altuve is only one player but he is representative of a larger theme with this team. Although they have lost some pitching, the Astros offensive regression last year might have been only temporary. Moreover, it might have thrown us off the scent of a team that has been a borderline Dodger-like juggernaut over the last half-decade.
Speaking of killing ish on the road, h/t to Killer Sports on Twitter for this trend:
"Since May 17th 2016, when the Astros are in the first game of a series, after having scored in at least 4 innings in their previous game, with their previous game having been on the road - yes, in that exact spot - the Astros are 22-0 SU & 19-3 RL including 12 straight Run-Line covers.
The trend alone doesn't mean all that much - arbitrary start date, somewhat arbitrary parameters in general.
But it strikes me that it pulls from a larger pool of games that have been pretty profitable for Astros backers.
Just betting the Astros has been a +22 unit investment since May 2016 - over 800 games.
Just betting the Astros on the road has been a +36 unit investment since May 2016 - over 400 games (half as many, go figure).
Just betting the Astros in the First Game of the Series has been a +31 unit investment since then
And when its both the FGS and the Stros are on the Road - that has been a +33 unit investment over only 120 games (66% SU).
So any number of random parameters within these pools has been profitable - and it's not crazy to think that one such trend has made it to 22-0.
And the past two years in general have been more profitable to bet on the Astros than the previous 2 in this sample set. Again, due to the market downgrade in the wake of the cheating scandal and them losing key pitchers. I think the negativity from the scandal is in fans minds more than the players - who have heard everything by now. I think they may continue to be underpriced.
Playing them here against the Giants.
Giants starter Kevin Gausman is having an outlier year with a 2.2 ERA, almost 1/2 of any ERA he has had for a full season since 2016. We are already seeing signs of regression: in his last outing, Gausman had by far his worst performance of the season allowing 6 ER and 8 hits in just 4 IP in a loss to the Pirates.