Dodgers vs. Giants: Welcome to Valuetown

Starting pitcher Logan Webb #62 of the San Francisco Giants on July 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.   Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP
Starting pitcher Logan Webb #62 of the San Francisco Giants on July 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP


The L.A. Dodgers are the obvious choice for Tuesday’s MLB picks when they visit the first-place San Francisco Giants.


Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants


Tuesday, July 27, 2021 – 9:45 PM ET at Oracle Park



Is there any more over-rated statistic in baseball than the win? Okay, perhaps the save – or maybe the RBI. And in this case, I’m talking about team wins rather than pitcher wins. But still, when you’re making your MLB picks, you can often find good value by comparing a team’s won-loss record to their run differential. The betting public relies too heavily on the former, while the latter is a more reliable predictor of future performance.



This brings us to Tuesday’s big game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. At press time, the Giants have the best record in baseball at 62-37; they’ve also racked up the most profits thus far at plus-20.87 betting units. The Dodgers (61-40, minus-6.83 units) are two games behind San Fran in the National League West. Don’t be fooled, though. Los Angeles have played better ball this year, and they’re a value pick after opening as +105 road dogs on the MLB odds board at DraftKings.


Pythagorean Tuning


The key stat here, as I’ve already alluded to, is run differential. Baseball is about scoring more runs than you give up; the timing of those runs is largely out of your control. The Dodgers have outscored their opponents by a combined 146 runs this year, more than anyone else in the majors. They also have a 13-17 record in games decided by one run, and 1-9 in extra innings, situations where you’d expect a team to be closer to .500.


The Giants (plus-120 run differential) meet those expectations. They’re 15-13 in one-run games and 4-5 in extra innings, which suggests their won-loss record is more indicative of their actual performance level. Indeed, if you convert those run differentials to “Pythagorean wins” using Bill James’ formula (runs scored squared, divided by the sum of runs scored squared and runs allowed squared), you get an expected won-loss record of 63-36 for the Giants, and 66-35 for the Dodgers.


California Dreamin’


As for Tuesday’s contest itself, we’ve got a pretty good matchup on the mound. Julio Urias (3.63 FIP) is due up for Los Angeles, and he’s pitched very well this year, driving the Dodgers to a 15-5 team record for 3.15 units in profit. San Francisco respond with Logan Webb (3.32 FIP), enjoying a breakout campaign in his third season in the bigs; Webb has a team record of 9-3 for 6.36 units in profit.

Both these California clubs have strong batting orders and decent bullpens, although the Dodgers are ahead in both departments, judging by the WAR stats (Wins Above Replacement) at FanGraphs. This is a close contest on paper, closer than the MLB lines at press time would suggest, so bet accordingly, and enjoy the game.


MLB Pick: Dodgers +105 at DraftKings