Dog of the Day: A couple reasons why the Miami Marlins are regularly undervalued

·2 min read

Run differential is a good starting point to figure out which teams are probably better or worse than their record. It works across practically all sports. 

There is one team in all of Major League Baseball that has a positive run differential and a losing record: the Miami Marlins. That means the Marlins have been running bad this season and should be better than .500. (For those curious about the inverse, the teams with a winning record and negative run differential: Cleveland Indians, Oakland A's, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers.) 

Because the Marlins are 24-28 and weren't considered to be a contender before the season, they are often underrated in the betting market. That could be the case again Tuesday. The Marlins are +125 underdogs at BetMGM vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. 

One reason the Marlins are playing under their expected record, based on run differential, is they have a 4-10 record in one-run games. That's the second-worst record in MLB; the Arizona Diamondbacks are worst at 1-11. While there are logical reasons why a team is better or worse than .500 in one-run games, most notably bullpen strength, that record usually regresses back to .500. The Marlins have been a bit unlucky. 

The reason the Marlins are probably better than the market thinks is their pitching. They have legitimate starting pitching depth, and one of their talented starters is Tuesday's starter Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara, with his heavy ground-ball tilt, has a solid 3.46 ERA. His xERA — a Fangraphs metric for expected ERA that measures contact while eliminating outside factors after contact is made — is 2.87, 12th best in MLB. Robbie Ray, Toronto's starter on Tuesday, has the seventh worst xERA among MLB starters. 

Toronto is a very good team, which is why it is favored. It also has no home-field advantage (10-11 at home, 17-14 on the road) because they don't really have a home until they're allowed to play again in Canada. The Blue Jays are also on a 4-8 streak. 

If we're being honest, the Lakers +5 are the best underdog of the day, but we discussed them at length in The Daily Sweat on Tuesday morning. The Marlins, a team that still gets value on the betting line because they've been a bit unlucky, is another good looking underdog. 

First baseman Jesus Aguilar and the Miami Marlins take on the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
First baseman Jesus Aguilar and the Miami Marlins take on the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

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