New MLB extra innings rule overblown in early chatter

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN.com) 

July 25, 2020 11:41 PM

You probably heard or read about (or even watched) late-night drama Friday when the Oakland A’s hit a grand slam in the 10th inning of a 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels. It won the game for A’s bettors and also vultured a victory at -1.5 runs, which is tough to do with a home team in extras. Of course, it REALLY vultured a win on Over the total of 8.5. 

Chatter overnight and all day Saturday was about how the result was proof that extra innings could get really wild after the coronavirus-inspired rule change that puts a runner on second to start any extra frame. 

A few things. It takes a lot more than a runner on second to lead to a Grand Slam! And big home runs in the bottom of extra innings have vexed (or saved) bettors for years. Some numbers you should know according to run-expectancy data from fangraphs.com (data from 2019 games):

MLB Run Expectancies

Bases Empty, no outs: 0.54 runs

Runner on second, no outs: 1.18 runs

So, yes, the expectancy will now be a bit over a run per half inning. But it was already half a run per half inning the old way. That new runner is worth 0.64 runs for each offense. And, the data actually overstates potential volume a smidge because the home team will stop batting after the winning run has scored. 

Friday night’s grand slam was an anomaly, not a sign of frequent explosions to come. Extra-inning scoring could be a bit more than you’re used to. But there was always at least one run destined to be scored the old way. And, sometimes visitors scored a bunch of runs in the top of an inning, or hosts blasted a multi-run homer. Even with the new rule, offenses will score zero runs in an extra-inning at bat about 40% of the time.

Concerns about extended playing time during a pandemic inspired a one-season adjustment that should make games end more quickly. Don’t let anomalies over the first weekend trick you into making bad betting decisions.

YANKS/NATS WRAP UP SHOWASE SERIES ON TBS, ESPN AIRS SUNDAY NIGHT TWINBILL

TV networks have a lot of catching up to do. Another big day of TV baseball for handicappers and bettors. Here’s a quick look (all times Eastern):

TBS (1:05 p.m.): New York Yankees (undecided) at Washington (Corbin). This will be the rubber game of the series after the Nats won big Saturday night. Note that every team in both the AL East and NL East are 1-1 heading into Sunday action. 

MLB Network (4:10 p.m.): Los Angeles Angels (Otani) -121 at Oakland (Fiers) plus 111 at total of 9 (Under -120, Over even). Remember Shohei Otani?! Angels fans and backers are hoping he can stay healthy and star with his arm and his bat. Another rubber game. 

ESPN (7 p.m.): Atlanta (Newcomb) -111 at NY Mets (Porcello) plus 101…total of 9 (Under -120, Over even). Will the Mets have the rotation depth needed to compete all season? Rick Porcello’s form Sunday night will answer questions for investors. 

ESPN (10 p.m.): San Francisco (undecided) at the Los Angeles Dodgers (Urias). The Giants avoided a third straight loss with a nail biter win Saturday. Dodgers’ backers are already down some vig despite a 2-1 start. Those who parlayed the Dodgers in multiple Saturday bets really took a hit. Chalk lovers eventually get a bad taste in their mouth. 

ACTIVE SESSIONS IN MLS AND WNBA CONTINUE SUNDAY

Let’s start in the “MLS is Back” tournament, where “host” Orlando advanced to the quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Montreal. In the late game, Philadelphia also beat New England by a 1-0 score. 

Two more “round of 16” games set for Sunday night. A correction from prior notes, knockout games go straight to penalty kicks after a regulation tie. There’s no 30-minute “overtime” period. 

Toronto vs. NYCFC (8:30 p.m., FS1)

Odds to Advance: Toronto -150, NYCFC plus 130

Three-way: Toronto plus 118, NYCFC plus 202, draw plus 285

Goal Line: Toronto -0.25 goals (-111), NYCFC plus 0.25 goals (-110)

Over/Under: 3 goals (Over plus 101, Under -123) 

Kansas City vs. Vancouver (11 p.m., FS1)

Odds to Advance: Kansas City -600, Vancouver 440

Three-way: Kansas City -217, Vancouver plus 545, draw plus 376

Goal Line: Kansas City -1.25 goals (-105), Vancouver plus 1.25 goals (-116)

Over/Under: 3 goals (Over -106, Under -115) 

Kansas City is such a heavy favorite that many shops won’t offer odds to advance. KC and Toronto currently have the top marks in the upper half of the knockout brackets in our estimate of “market” Power Ratings on a goal supremacy scale. 

Upper Half

Philadelphia (2.1) advanced Saturday with a 1-0 win over New England

Kansas City (2.3) vs. Vancouver (1.1)…Sunday

Toronto (2.3) vs. NYCFC (2.1)…Sunday

Portland (1.9) vs. Cincinnati (1.3)…Tuesday

Lower Half

Orlando (2.0) advanced Saturday with a 1-0 win over Montreal

Seattle (2.3) vs. LAFC (2.7)…Monday

San Jose (2.0) vs. Salt Lake (1.7)…Monday

Columbus (2.3) vs. Minnesota (2.1)…Tuesday

Some reward for Orlando City. Barring a Monday upset, it will face tournament favorite LAFC in the quarters. 

If you were watching WNBA betting markets Saturday, you saw why sportsbooks are afraid of sharp action in this league. The earliest overnight line we saw for Seattle vs. New York was Storm -5.5 at Draftkings. Our Sunday morning report showed Storm -8.5 at BetRivers. By tipoff at noon ET, Seattle was all the way up to -14.5! 

Seattle, a VERY strong team when Breanna Steward and Sue Bird are both healthy, coasted to an 87-71 victory that covered all numbers. New York’s roster suggests a glorified expansion team that will be overmatched while #1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu learns the ropes. And, Kia Nurse will now miss time with a sprained ankle.  

Blowouts in Saturday’s other two games as well. Los Angeles (-4) beat Phoenix 99-76. Washington (plus 1) beat Indiana 101-76.

No early spreads up at publication deadlines for Sunday’s TV tripleheader. Basketball bettors should check out Connecticut vs. Minnesota (ESPN, noon), Las Vegas vs. Chicago (ABC, 3 p.m.), and Atlanta vs. Dallas (CBS Sports Network 5 p.m.).

COVID ISSUE IN MAJOR LEAGUE LACROSSE SEMIFINALS

We didn’t include Major League Lacrosse in this July countdown series because it’s not (yet) a major betting sport. But it was a pro sports league trying to successfully put together a campaign in a bubble. The league scheduled one week of action in Annapolis, Md., which was supposed to culminate with semifinals Saturday, and a championship game today. 

One of Saturdays semi’s was canceled because of positive player tests. The other scheduled semifinal will be played as a final today.

While it’s true that Major League Soccer has secured its bubble, and news has largely been good for the WNBA and NBA so far…Saturday’s developments for MLL are a reminder that potential trouble can pop up at any time. 

Other Stories of Interest

*Lou Williams of LA Clippers in quarantine limbo after visit to strip club (CBS Sports)

*WNBA’s Atlanta Dream confirm earlier positive tests (ESPN)

*Rutgers stops football workouts after positive tests (NJ.com)

*Time to pull plug on college football experiment (NY Daily News)

*State of Florida made many mistakes as covid worsened (Washington Post)

*Nevada one of 21 states with covid outbreak classified as “uncontrolled spread” (Statnews)

VSiN returns Monday with our final week of countdown coverage.

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