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15 extreme-stats systems for betting MLB

By Steve Makinen  () 

Besides the teams affected by COVID-19, the shortened MLB season has gone on largely as expected. It has also gone quickly, with several teams already one-third of the way through their schedules. So let’s not wait to release some of the best extreme-stats baseball systems to capitalize on. These are betting angles that look closely at unusual statistics that teams generate and how those teams respond in the next contest. These stats could include runs, hits, strikeouts, home runs, run differential and even innings played.

So far in 2020, we have seen plenty of lofty scores, some run droughts and a number of situations in which bullpens have been counted on for far more than their usual workload. Such situations are spots you should watch for as you handicap each day’s games.

So let’s update the list of MLB extreme-stats betting systems and put them to work for the rest of the season.

System No. 1: Back road teams after losing by 15+  runs

— Teams playing on the road in the follow-up game after losing by 15 runs or more are 22-21 (51.2%) for + 10.05 units. (ROI: 23.4%)

Analysis: This is obviously hard to back mentally, as a road team that just got its rear end kicked isn’t the most appetizing wager. However, they usually bounce back well.

System No. 2: Back road teams in divisional games after a very poor hitting game

— Teams playing on the road against divisional foes in the follow-up game after batting .050 or worse are 34-27 (55.7%) for + 14.2 units. (ROI: 23.3%)

Analysis: The teams in this system also figure to be among those that bettors would be least likely to back, as all 61 teams in the sample had zero or one hit in the previous contest. But against divisional foes on the road, these teams have been able to quickly turn the page from that poor-hitting contest.

System No. 3: Fade big home favorites coming off a huge hitting performance

— Home favorites of -175 or higher are on a 15-16 (48.4%) slide in the follow-up game after hitting .463 or better in the previous contest. The net result has been -15.4 units (ROI: -49.7%)

Analysis: The teams in this system seemed to be getting overpriced by oddsmakers because they are at home and because they are coming off huge hitting performances. A letdown is the natural result.

System No. 4: Back home teams in divisional games that hit four or more home runs in the previous contest

— Home teams in divisional games that hit four or more home runs in a contest are on a 91-59 (60.7%) surge in the follow-up game. The net result has been + 17.15 units (ROI: 11.4%)

Analysis: It seems that hitting several home runs carries positive momentum into follow-up games, particularly when that team is playing at home against a divisional opponent.

System No. 5: Fade road teams in divisional games that hit four or more home runs in the previous contest

— Road teams in divisional games that hit four or more home runs in a contest are on a 57-68 (45.6%) slide in the follow-up game. The net result has been -17.7 units (ROI: -14.2%)

Analysis: This is essentially the exact opposite of No. 4. In divisional contests, back the home team if it hit four homers the previous game, but fade the road team if it did the same thing.

System No. 6: Back teams that struck out no more than once in the previous contest

— Teams that avoid striking out are 158-121 (56.6%) in the follow-up game since 2008. The net result has been + 27.5 units (ROI: 9.9%)

Analysis: Nowadays, it seems that teams striking out one or fewer times in a game would be rare. It is — it has happened just once this season and eight times in the 2019 season. However, with an ROI of 9.9%, it pays to watch for these teams because, in those rare cases, they are seeing the ball well and thus a solid bet in the next contest.

System No. 7: Back teams that struck out 16+  times in the previous contest

— Ironically, while backing teams that didn’t strike out much in the previous game has been successful, so has jumping on teams that struck out 16 or more times. They are 71-60 (54.2%) in the follow-up game since September 2018. The net result has been + 21.75 units (ROI: 16.6%)

Analysis: As opposed to the strikeout system in No. 6, this one is occurring much more frequently lately. In fact, in 2020, it had already occurred 10 times as of Monday. Striking out doesn’t hold anywhere near the stigma it used to. It’s a natural consequence of hitters trying to drive more balls out of the park. These teams can quickly shake off the strikeouts and are actually good bets in the next contest, producing a 16.6% ROI. These teams are nearly equally effective at home as on the road. 

System No. 8: Fade home teams that left zero men or one man on base in the previous contest

— Home teams that left one or fewer men on base in the previous game are just 120-126 (48.8%) in the follow-up contest since 2008. The net result has been -28.5 units (ROI: -11.6%)

Analysis: In most cases, teams leaving very few men on base probably did so because they didn’t put many on base. Poor hitting doesn’t carry over well, as we’ve seen, so fading home teams that left one or fewer men on base in the previous contest is sound. This is a fairly long-running system that has performed consistently.

System No. 9: Back teams whose bullpens are fresh and fade teams whose bullpens were overused in the previous game

— Teams whose bullpens went less than an inning in the previous contest are 973-903 (51.9%) in the next game since 2008. The net result has been + 21.7 units (ROI: + 1.2%)

— Teams whose bullpens were utilized for more than six innings in the previous contest are 1,608-1,609 (50%) in the next game since ’08. The net result has been -95 units (ROI: -3.0%)

Analysis: These are not very eye-catching when you consider the ROI values alone. However, these contradict each other almost directly and should signal to the bettor the importance of monitoring bullpen usage. Bottom line: Teams with fresh bullpens are more profitable than those with overused bullpens. Teams with bullpens going six or more innings are more common than ever.

System No. 10: Back teams that allowed 17+  runs in the previous game

— Teams that allowed 17 or more runs in the previous contest are surprisingly a good bet in the next, having gone 78-74 (51.3%) since 2008. The net result has been + 15.57 units (ROI: + 10.2%)

Analysis: Teams that allow 17 or more runs in a game would be considered poison by most bettors, but they actually turn out to be solid wagers in the next game. This has happened twice in 2020, but both teams did lose the next outing. Considering this system dates to ’08, two losses aren’t enough to back off yet.

System No. 11: Back teams that just threw a no-hitter

— Teams that allowed zero hits in the previous contest come back strong in the next, with a record of 28-16 (63.6%) since 2008. The net result has been + 11.55 units (ROI: + 26.3%)

Analysis: No-hitters are extreme baseball events and clearly build momentum. They’re not emotional letdowns, as some bettors make them out to be. This system was 4-0 in 2019 but has yet to happen in 2020. Nowadays, no-hitters can be team efforts just as easily as by individual pitchers. Watch for that, as it doesn’t make a difference to the system.

System No. 12: Back home teams that were shut out in back-to-back games

— Home teams that got shut out in back-to-back games come back strong in the next, with a record of 63-41 (60.6%) since 2008. The net result has been + 23.15 units (ROI: + 22.2%)

Analysis: Teams coming off back-to-back shutout losses are obvious candidates for underpricing by oddsmakers. But these teams come back quite well at home, returning better than 22% on investment. If you add a third straight shutout to this system, the record goes to 5-3 (62.5%) for + 1.95 units and an ROI of 24.4%.

 

System No. 13: Back home teams coming off back-to-back games in which they scored double-digit runs

— Home teams that scored double-digit runs in each of their last two games have been great bets recently in the next contest, having gone 47-19 (71.4%) over the last 3+  seasons. The net result has been + 20.9 units (ROI: 31.7%).

Analysis: As you would suspect, teams that get on this big a roll are tough to stop. This was a fade system before the 2017 season, but it has taken off since. Despite overpricing by oddsmakers, bettors are still turning profits backing these hot offensive teams at home. Since I pointed out this system in June 2019, it has maintained its 31%+  ROI by going 12-5.

System No. 14: Fade road teams coming off back-to-back games in which they allowed double-digit runs

— Similar but opposite to the angle just noted, road teams that allowed double-digit runs in each of their last two games have been great fades recently in the next contest, having gone just 29-58 (33.3%) since the start of the 2016 season. The net result has been -22.9 units (ROI: -26.3%).

Analysis: While not always the same plays as the opponents from System No. 13, road teams coming off games in which they allowed double-digit runs have struggled horribly over the last 4+  seasons. The reasons are plentiful. The pitching is not only not sharp but probably tired as well, and opponents’ hitters are on a roll.

System No. 15: Fade smaller divisional home favorites on three-game rolls offensively

— Smaller divisional home favorites of less than -200 that scored 30 or more runs in their last three games are just 28-36 (43.8%) in their last 64 tries. That has accounted for -25.75 units of loss and an ROI of -40.2%.

Analysis: Divisional games tend to play out a little differently from others, as familiarity helps pitchers quiet these rolling offenses. These are teams bettors love to back, as the price is relatively low and the team is playing well. The divisional aspect becomes the equalizer.

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