2017 MLB Dog Days of Summer “Super Surgers” vs. “Towel Tossers”

With the July 31st trade deadline having past, MLB teams are ready for the stretch run in the month of August.  The Dog Days of August mean many things to many people.  For some, it refers to the visual image of dogs panting on the hot cement in the summer sun.  For others, it is more personal as they struggle with the lazy, hazy days of August and the debilitating summer heat and humidity.

The phrase “Dog Days of Summer” actually harkins to the times of the Ancient Romans and Greeks.  For it is in late July and early August, that Sirius, the dog star, would rise just before the sun.  The Romans and Greeks envisioned the constellation Canis Major, of which Sirius represents the dog’s nose, to be chasing Lepus, the hare.  For them, that also signaled the hottest days of the year often accompanied by fever and catastrophe.

I have used the phrase as an analogy for the performance of the MLB teams in the month of August.  The teams who are mired well under .500 have no hopes of post-season play and are “Dogging It” as they are often mired in long losing slumps.  At the other end of the spectrum are the teams involved in the Division races or who are chasing a Wild Card.  They are looking to “get hot” in the month of August securing their place for the stretch run in a Playoff berth in September.  To quantify this, I have broken down teams in (3) distinct areas.  These are segregated by each group of team’s motivation to perform.  For each group below, I will provide an outline of their motivation as well as a meaningful way to play against these teams.

The first is a group of teams I call the “Towel Tossers”.  I use the concept of  “Towel Tosser” in most of the major sports.  It signifies the point in the 2nd half of the season when teams lose hope for post-season aspiration and “throw in the towel” on the season.  Motivation wanes, often because the club has been a “Seller” at the trade deadline, as does performance.

I quantify these teams as ones who are 10 or more games below .500, thus having no chance to compete in the post-season. This year, there are (7) qualifying teams.  Should others fall into that category (the Blue Jays and Braves are close, and so included in this list), they could also fit into this category.  As prices against these teams begin to rise, it is often most profitable to PLAY AGAINST THEM ON THE RUN LINE.  For that reason, next to their name, I have given you their run line records both home and away.

San Francisco 40-67 6-23 10-28
Philadelphia 39-64 10-18 16-20
CWS 41-62 7-20 8-27
Cincinnati 42-63 7-21 6-29
Oakland 47-59 6-18 8-27
San Diego 47-58 3-23 10-22
Detroit 47-57 7-18 9-23
Atlanta 48-56 4-21 12-19
Toronto 49-57 4-22 10-21

The 1st number in the column represents the number of games a team has LOST, home or away, by exactly (1) run.

The 2nd number in the column represents the number of games a team has LOST, home or away, by (2) or more runs.

To put these numbers in perspective, please note the records of all MLB teams through the month of July, over 100 games of action.  In the previous 7 years, approximately 70% of MLB games were decided by 2 or more runs.  This year through July 31st, we find that 74.8% of MLB games have been decided by 2 or more runs.  This breaks down into approximately 70% at home and 80% on the road.  You can use the numbers for each individual team to search out value when playing AGAINST these “Towel Tossers” ON THE ROAD OR AT HOME.

Our 2nd group of teams is the “Super Surgers”.  These are the teams, who are in the thick of the Playoff race either leading the Division by a narrow margin, or in the Hunt for either the Division lead or a Wild Card spot.  I characterize these teams as having at least a .500 record,  BUT NOT BEING 10 OR MORE GAMES OVER .500.  (10) teams qualify August 1st as potential “Super Surgers”.  Any other team whose record ascends to .500 may be included in this group.  The chart below provides you a similar type of run line information which you may use to your advantage when “Playing Against” the “Towel Tossers”.





Arizona 60-45 24-12 17-7
Colorado 60-46 26-5 22-7
NYY 57-47 25-7 21-4
Cleveland 57-47 21-7 24-5
Boston 58-49 22-9 22-5
Chicago Cubs 56-48 19-8 20-9
Kansas City 55-49 18-12 24-1
Milwaukee 55-52 21-8 21-5
Tampa Bay 54-53 22-7 19-6
Seattle 54-53 22-10 17-5

The 1st number in the column represents the number of games a team has WON home or away by exactly 1 run..

The 2nd number in the column represents the number of games a team has WON home or away by 2 or more runs.

Again putting these numbers in perspective, I ask you to refer to the fact that approximately 70% of all MLB HOME games this season are decided by 2 or more runs. 80% of the ROAD games are decided by 2 or more runs.

Use the numbers for each individual team to search for value when playing these teams on the run line, such as “Against” the “Towel Tossers” above.  An example of this might be the first two teams on the list. You may feel more comfortable playing a Colorado team who has won 48 of their 60 victories by 2 or more runs rather than using an Arizona team on the run line who is 41-19 in the run line numbers.

Our 3rd group of teams are the best teams in MLB who have won 60% or more of their games and hold double digit leads in their Division.  Though it is tempting to play on these teams because of their outstanding records, note that they are often over-priced because of that exact reason.  For these teams, complacency has often begun to creep in as they look forward to a most secure spot in the Playoffs.  Their W/L record often takes a dive.  I present these (3) teams to you again with their run line records HOME and AWAY in winning situations.





Los Angeles Dodgers 74-31 33-14 22-5
Houston 69-36 24-7 33-5
Washington 63-41 22-7 25-9

I hope my impressions of the Dog Days of August as laid out with the “Super Surgers” and “Towel Tossers” is valuable to you in your handicapping this month.

Posted in: MLB

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