Monday, April 3, 2017
2017 MLB Run Line Handicapping
By Joe Gavazzi, Winning Sports Advice
Wednesday, May 03, 2017
April 2017 MLB Run Line Results
By Joe Gavazzi, Winning Sports Advice
In 2017, I began my 8th consecutive season of tracking MLB run line results. For each of the previous 7 years, I have recorded the margin of victory for each of the 30 MLB teams on a daily basis broken down by home and road results.
My run line theory of handicapping is unique to this system. While other information available tracks the run line results based on the betting line of plus or minus 1 ½ runs, my information is meant to be used in what I believe to be a more useful way.
To best use the data I provide, I suggest that the handicapper first analyze the game using his normal methods of pitching, batting, defense and bullpen. Once the analyst has handicapped the winner, he then returns to the run line chart to determine whether there is a favorite or underdog who qualifies in a high percentage of results that can lead to value when making the wager on the run line.
The results from the month of April 2017 are remarkably consistent with those of the previous 7 years. We find that 70.7% of all MLB games were decided by 2 or more runs. Breaking it down in a home/road dichotomy, the results show us that in the month of April 65% of teams who win at home do so by 2 or more runs (just slightly below the 7 year average) and 78% of the teams who win away do so by 2 or more runs (just slightly higher than the 7 year average). The reason for the home/road differential is that road teams, who bat first in the inning, will normally look to plate as many runs as possible knowing their opponent has the final at bat. Conversely, home teams more consistently play for the 1 run lead heading into the 9th inning knowing they have the final at bat. Keep in mind that if home teams have the lead after 8 ½ innings, they need not bat in the bottom of the 9th giving them only 24 outs to score runs.
In an earlier article this season, available at JoeGavazziSports.com, I pointed out which teams had outstanding run line records home or road either last year or in recent seasons. Today’s article will deal only with April results pointing out which teams have outstanding records either overall, at home or on the road, both in terms of winning or losing the majority of their games by 2 or more runs. By referring to the article at the beginning of the year, you can see how teams are trending from year to year. I will break the results down by the 5 headings listed below. All results are through Sunday, April 30th.
Teams who WIN BOTH home and road games by 2 or more runs 80% of the time…
Cincinnati 10/11 wins by 2 or more runs
LA Dodgers 11/13 wins by 2 or more runs
NYY 12/15 wins by 2 or more runs
Tampa Bay 10/12 wins by 2 or more runs
Minnesota 11/12 wins by 2 or more runs
Texas 9/11 wins by 2 or more runs
Teams who LOSE BOTH home and road games by 2 or more runs 75% of the time…
Kansas City 12/16 losses by 2 or more runs
Detroit 10/12 losses by 2 or more runs
Baltimore 7/8 losses by 2 or more runs
Colorado 10/10 losses by 2 or more runs
Teams who WIN home or road games by 2 or more runs 80% of the time…
Washington 6/7 home wins by 2 or more runs
St. Louis 4/4 away wins by 2 or more runs
Cleveland 7/8 away wins by 2 or more runs
Houston 7/7 away wins by 2 or more runs
Teams who LOSE home or road games by 2 or more runs 80% of the time…
NY Mets 9/10 home losses by 2 or more runs
Boston 5/5 home losses by 2 or more runs
Teams who have WON AND LOST all games by 2 or more runs 75% of the time…
Milwaukee 10/12 wins by 2 or more runs: 11/13 losses by 2 or more runs
Arizona 12/16 wins by 2 or more runs: 9/11 losses by 2 or more runs
CWS 11/13 wins by 2 or more runs: 9/10 losses by 2 or more runs
Oakland 9/11 wins by 2 or more runs: 11/14 losses by 2 or more runs
Remember that this is a very short one month sample. You may consult OPS numbers for reasons why these trends have occurred and may perpetuate. You may also wish to refer to my previous articles to see which of these trends are continuing from last season.
I will return on a continuing basis throughout the MLB season to update these numbers. To take advantage of both my MLB handicapping analysis as well as these run line trends which I translate into “run line underdog winners”, you may sign up for a daily or package price set of selections at JoeGavazziSports.com.
One of my favorite ways to isolate value in the betting line, in all sports, is to look at a team or players home/road splits. Often times
it allows the handicapper to find a hidden edge that is not incorporated in the betting line.
All numbers in this article are for MLB starting pitchers through June 13, 2017, through 10 weeks of play. The article isolates the
BEST 25 HOME STARTERS and WORST 25 ROAD STARTERS in MLB through the above date.
The parameter used is a starting pitcher’s OPS numbers. To refresh your memory, OPS is the sum of the OBP (on base percentage)
and SLG (slugging percentage) of any pitcher or team. In the last several years, I have authored numerous articles which have proven
that OPS is the most accurate indicator and predictor of performance.
For each of the BEST 25 HOME STARTERS and WORST 25 ROAD STARTERS, I list the pitcher’s name, TRGS (team record
game started), his HOME or ROAD OPS, his YTD OPS and the differential between those last two numbers.
My conclusions will point out the fact that OPS is truly a quality indicator of performance as well as show you a way to isolate the
best value in these numbers.
Let’s begin with a chart showing the Top 25 HOME STARTERS in MLB all of whom have 20 or more IP in their home starts, all of
whom have a sub .600 OPS and a sub 3.00 ERA.
This is my first Run Line article of the 2017 season. In it, I will draw conclusions from the recent past which can often be used as a predictive model for future success.
As former readers understand, my Run Line handicapping is unique to the Industry. Many handicappers simply look at past margins of victory and a record of the team on a run line as a method for predicting success or failure in a team’s current game. My model, I believe, is more predictive as it forces the analyst to handicap the game then apply a team’s run line success (home and away) as the final arbiter in making a run line play.
For the last 7 seasons, since 2010, I have recorded every result by hand regarding the final margins of victory when each of the 30 MLB teams wins or loses a game either home or away. The results have been compelling, to say the least. Often, particularly in the 2nd half of the season, this type of analysis has resulted in lengthy winning streaks at underdog prices using run line selections. Following are some of the Best and Worst run line teams in MLB as split by their home/road results. Before delivering those conclusions to you, please note that over the years an average of 70% of MLB games have been decided by 2 or more runs. The home/road dichotomy shows that breakdown to be 65% to 66% for home teams and 74% to 75% for road teams. Last year’s percentage was 71.3% largely because 68.1% of games won by the home team were by 2 or more runs.
GOOD RUN LINE TEAMS AT HOME IF WIN BY 2 OR MORE RUNS (75% of games)
TORONTO BLUE JAYS…
3 year record shows that the Blue Jays have won 115 of 145 home games (79%) by 2 or more runs.
BOSTON RED SOX…
70 of 90 (78%) of Boston victories at home the L2Y have been by 2 or more runs. 75% or higher of their home victories in 5 of 7 seasons have been by 2 or more runs.
35 of 42 (83%) of Colorado home wins were by 2 or more runs last year.
BAD RUN LINE TEAMS AT HOME IF LOSE BY 2 OR MORE RUNS (80% of games)
NEW YORK YANKEES…
30 of 33 (91%) of NYY home losses were by 2 or more runs last year. It was the 3rd time in 4 years that the Yankees qualified in this category.
27 of 31 (87%) of Baltimore home losses last year were by 2 or more runs. Since tracking records for the last 7 years, 195 out of 248 (79%) of Baltimore home losses have been by 2 or more runs.
31 of 35 (89%) of Detroit losses last year were by 2 or more runs. The 3 year mark for Detroit in this category is 96 of 115 (83%).
107 of 131 (82%) Minnesota home losses in the L3Y have been by 2 or more runs (including 41 of 51 last year).
95 of 114 (83%) of Texas home losses in the L3Y have been by 2 or more runs (including 25 of 28 last year).
147 of 184 (80%) of LAA home losses L3Y by 2 or more runs (including 36 of 41 last year).
107 of 128 (84%) of Atlanta home losses the L3Y have been by 2 or more runs.
162 of 201 (81%) of Colorado home losses the L5Y have been by 2 or more runs (including 32 of 39 LY).
GOOD RUN LINE TEAMS ON THE ROAD IF WIN BY 2 OR MORE (80% of games)
KANSAS CITY ROYALS…
102 of 125 (82%) of KC road wins the L3Y have been by 2 or more runs.
81 of 99 (82%) of Minnesota road wins the L3Y have been by 2 or more runs (25 of 29 LY).
33 of 41 (80%) of Cleveland road wins last year were by 2 or more runs.
TAMPA BAY RAYS…
28 of 32 (88%) of TBay road wins last year were by 2 or more runs.
39 of 46 (85%) of road wins last year were by 2 or more runs.
28 of 33 (85%) of Colorado road wins last year were by 2 or more runs.
BAD RUN LINE TEAMS ON THE ROAD IF LOSE BY 2 OR MORE RUNS (75% of games)
NEW YORK YANKEES…
36 of 45 (80%) of road losses last year were by 2 or more runs.
33 OF 42 (79%) of road losses last year were by 2 or more runs.
32 of 41 (78%) of road losses last year were by 2 or more runs.
ARIZONA DIAMOND BACKS…
37 of 45 (82%) of road losses last year were by 2 or more runs.
As you can see from the above history, there are many opportunities when using these records in making run line selections. For best results, I urge you to become a part of my LTS Clients who pay as low as $7/day for Winning Selections through the end of the season. Sign up by picking “Package Plays” at JoeGavazziSports.com or by calling 724-715-7186.
This is an update of an article I wrote earlier this season which was met with wide acclaim and a request for updated numbers. All starters involved have pitched a minimum of 40 IP home or road respectively.
What the OPS findings have shown is that there is a group of top tier pitchers who perform even better from their home mound. Likewise, there is a degree of bottom tier starters whose results on the road have been absolutely abysmal. Without going into a complete list of the starting pitchers involved and their numbers, this abbreviated article will give you the parameters used for each group. With over 50% of the season being played, you can simply review the pitchers OPS number and draw your own conclusions. All numbers are for starts through the All Star Break for games commencing Friday, July 14th.
88-31 (74%) TRGS - PLAY ON ANY HOME STARTER IN MLB WITH 40 OR MORE IP AT HOME IF HE HAS A LESS THAN .600 OPS AND A LESS THAN 3.00 ERA. 16 starters currently qualify.
114-63 (64%) TRGS - PLAY AGAINST ANY MLB STARTING PITCHER WITH 40 OR MORE IP ON THE ROAD IF HE HAS A GREATER THAN .900 OPS. 25 starters currently qualify.
For comparison sake, please note that at the 2017 All Star Break, the average batting OPS is .749 and the average starting pitcher OPS is .767.
Type your paragraph here.
1. CONFIDENCE in your handicapping model or in the handicapper you follow.
2. APPROACH each day with hope, not expectation. Realizing that unmet expectation lead to disappointment and the ensuing downward spiral of emotion.
3. FOCUS on your current thoughts or actions rather than revel in a recent winning streak or dwell on a recent losing streak.
4. BE REALISTIC about result, understanding success is built in the long run, using good money management.
5. UNDERSTAND random variance, that sports are a game of inches and that the strength of betting line assures that there will be close wins and losses (some of which results in streaks) but that these even out in the long run.
6. REALIZE there are more important things in life rather than the Ws and Ls on our betting sheet.
Monday, April 3, 2017
Using the OPS as Final Arbiter
Joe Gavazzi, Winning Sports Advice
Notes from the bleachers
6 Common traits & Successful Sports Bettors
By Joe Gavazzi Winning Sports Advice
To draw conclusions from these ratings and rankings would be tough to do. The data does not lend itself to the type of rank analysis that is done with the buy and sell ratings.
It can, however, be noted that the OPS and ERA numbers tend to be more representative of a team’s overall success than the Save + Strand numbers. These latter numbers would be more valuable when analyzing the later innings of a bullpen’s work. Regarding individual teams, the following conclusions might be reached.
Cleveland Indians - The top ranked bullpen by all 3 measurements. Yet last year’s World Series rep continues to struggle because of poor play at home and with underachieving bats and spotty work from the bottom of their rotation.
Houston Astros – The Houston success is highly attributable to an offense that not only hits well but performs well on the base paths. If they are going to win the whole thing, their strand % must improve.
Washington Nationals – Similar to Houston with arguably the best offensive numbers in MLB as it has been all year. The bullpen is the weak link. Expect a trade to shore up this efficiency in the next two weeks.
Boston Red Sox – Unlike previous seasons with Big Papi leading the way, the Boston hitting is middle of the pack showing the importance of their strong relief numbers as being a reason for their current Division lead.
Chicago Cubs – The defending champs can’t blame their bullpen for their struggles at the mid-way point. Look to an offense which has dropped to the middle and a group of last year’s starters whose ERA & OPS numbers are significantly worse. Quintana to the rescue?
Cincinnati Reds – The Reds have top pitching numbers in all 3 categories. Maybe they should insert some of them as starters into a rotation whose 8.97 OPS is easily the worst in MLB.
Chicago White Sox – Finally, note the Pale Hose outstanding relief numbers proving that it takes more than a bullpen to reach the upper echelon of MLB.
The above study makes it clear to this author that finding a link between bullpen success and a team’s W/L number is hard to come by. It is a further indictment of the fact the increased role of the bullpen, without knowing exactly who will be pitching, continues to make handicapping MLB a most challenging experience.
Run Line Results Explode
By Joe Gavazzi JoeGavazziSports.com
With the advent of the high-tech age in the last 25 years, there has emerged many different forms of statistical analysis used to dissect a player/team performance. In evaluating pitchers, there are statistics other than ERA. These include WHIP, K/BB, BAA, OBP, SLG, and BABIP (batting average for balls in play). After reviewing all these individual statistics, I concluded several years ago that the most meaningful stat in terms of judging not only past, but future performance of a team, is OPS. OPS is a combination of a team or pitchers OBP (on base percentage) and SLG (slugging average). The numerous articles I have penned in the last several years have proven this to be true. Both in terms of a team/pitchers performance to date, but also as a predictive model for a teams/pitchers future success. This is the first articles written regarding OPS for use as a predictive model for the 2017 season.
To come to these conclusions, I ranked the 30 teams in MLB from Best to Worst record of 1 to 30. I then ranked each team by their batting OPS and their pitching OPS. I used those two numbers in combination to give me a true combination number for a team’s batting and pitching OPS. I then ranked those numbers from 1 to 30 placing them beside the actual won/loss record of the team. True to form, most all of the teams showed a high correlation between their won/loss rank and their combined OPS rank. The conclusions below are based on teams whose OPS rank was notably different than their won/loss record. I will use two examples, one with a positive projection and one with a negative projection to make my point. Both teams play in the American League.
THE TEXAS RANGERS had an outstanding season with a record of 95-67. That was good for a 9 game Division win and a trip to the Playoffs where they promptly lost 3 games to none to the Toronto Blue Jays. Let’s look at why that sweep of the Rangers may not have been a mirage and why they are doomed to a less successful season.
The 2016 League Average was .739 OPS. The Rangers, although possessing the 2nd best record in the League at 95-67, had only the 10th best batting OPS at .755 and the #22 pitching OPS at .753 (remember, a LOWER OPS # is better for pitching). When combined, these numbers were only the 16th best in MLB. Why did the Rangers succeed? Let’s go inside their record to draw that conclusion. Though the Rangers were a successful 42-39 on the road, it was at home where they tied Cleveland for the best record in the AL with 53 wins that they had more of their success. A more amazing statistic, however, is the fact that Texas was BY FAR THE MLB LEADER WITH A RECORD OF 36-11 IN (1) RUN GAMES. Whether you conclude that result was a function of great managing, outstanding bullpen, timely hitting or the fact that Baseball is a game of inches, it is simply unlikely that combined with their underserving OPS, it is most unlikely the Rangers reach a 90 win plateau this season. The odds makers agree projecting Texas to win just 85 ½ games in 2017.
At the other end of the spectrum, the TAMPA BAY RAYS. The Rays finished the year an underachieving 68-94. A closer look at their OPS numbers tells us why that #27 record in MLB for 2016 was not warranted. For the Rays finished the season with a .733 OPS in batting (16th best) and a .734 OPS in pitching (the 11th best in the League). That combination was 13th best in the MLB, far dichotomous from their 27th best record. Expect a far better year from the Rays in 2017. Much like Texas above, there are two factors which concur with that projection. First is the fact that the odds maker expects a greater than 10 game jump in the Rays record this year. Second, is that the Rays were an MLB worst 13-27 in (1) run games. Like Texas above, you can blame whatever factors you wish. The truth remains it is highly unlikely that the Rays will have the worst record in (1) run games this season.
Those are the (2) best examples of the OPS as predictive model in MLB for the 2017 Season. It is an example of why parity is true now more than ever in the sport. Consider the fact that 28 of the 30 teams had a percentage ranging from .420 to .586. Only the Cubs, with a 103-58 (.640) and the Twins, at 59-103 (.364) were outside those parameters. Though the Cubs record was for real as they had the #2 OPS ranking, consider the future of a MINNESOTA TWINS. Their 30th best record in no way correlated to the #21 OPS numbers that saw them 13th best in OPS batting at .738. Much like the Rays above, a 15-29 ATS record in (1) run games was a major reason for their failure. Expect far better from the Minnesota Twins this season.
From time to time through the 2017 season, I will be returning with articles on the OPS numbers. I find them to be a valuable predictive tool in my MLB handicapping.
This is a companion article to the one written last week in which I proved the value of using combined OPS and ERA numbers to predict TRGS & W/L records. To remind you of the results of those findings, you will recall that after 5 weeks of the 2017 Season (approximately 20% of the games), that starting pitchers, with 20 or more IP, had a 69-25 W/L record if they had both a less than 3.00 ERA and less than .625 OPS.
This week we go to the opposite end of the spectrum to examine how MLB starting pitchers in the 2017 Season perform.
As with last week’s article, I will give you a chart that lists the 22 pitchers in MLB with their OPS, their ERA followed by their TRGS and W/L record. At the conclusion of the article, you will see why these pitchers are virtual “auto fades”
when they take the mound until they turn things around. The common thread of these 22 pitchers is that they all have an OPS of greater than .843 and an ERA of greater than 5.00.
Even with only 5 weeks of data available, the normal results show that the OPS numbers for top pitchers are more reflected in success for the TRGS and W/L record of a starting pitcher. This year’s results are dichotomous to those normal findings. The OPS pitchers have a 62% TRGS and 67% W/L record. The ERA pitchers have a more favorable 66% TRGS and 73% W/L record.
The 6 pitchers who are ONLY on the OPS chart have combined records of 15-19 TRGS and 9-12 W/L record. The 7 pitchers who are ONLY on the ERA chart are 27-14 TRGS and have a 17-7 W/L record.
Perhaps the greatest take away from this chart is the fact that when a pitcher appears on the Top 25 list of BOTH the OPS and ERA charts, he has a 77-40 TRGS and 69-25 personal W/L record.
2017 MLB HOME/ROAD Starting Pitching Dichotomies
by Joe Gavazzi JoeGavazziSports.com
A quick survey of the 3 charts above shows that our group of pitchers has a combined personal won/loss record of 19-10.
Our first clue that their relatively higher OPS numbers are a superior metric is the fact that these pitchers combined TRGS numbers are only 24-21. In other words, these pitchers are often “running through raindrops” in the opening 3 weeks of the season. If my theory holds, in another 4 weeks these pitchers personal records will fall toward the .500 mark and their combined TRGS numbers may well plummet below .500. That means there will be plenty of profit as the linemaker will price these starters in accord with their ERAs making them an overpriced proposition.
DON’T BE BAMBOOZLED INTO USING THE ERAs WHEN DOING YOUR HANDICAPPING. Rely on the OPS numbers of your starter as they provide a truer understanding of their value.
2017 MLB Buy/Sell Home Ratings
By Joe Gavazzi JoeGavazziSports.com
In late May of 2017, I issued the much anticipated first Buy/Sell ratings for MLB teams. For those who are unaware of the process, I use a formula of the OPS ratings (proven to be the most valuable indicators of success) that encompass hitting, starting pitching and relief pitching. The result of the study showed that there were “Buy” ratings on 3 MLB teams and 3 “Sell” ratings on MLB teams. To no one’s surprise, these were useful indicators.
Let’s briefly review the outcome of the initial Buy/Sell ratings prior to today’s article which, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, will split HOME BUY/SELL RATINGS from the overall performance of the team. But, I digress; let’s review the results of May’s Buy/Sell ratings. The Buy ratings were on the Miami Marlins, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland A’s. Two of these 3 teams proved profitable in the ensuing weeks. The Rays ripped off a 15-11 mark through June 23rd. Miami is on an upward bound 17-10 surge at the time of this writing. However, Oakland is on just a 13-19 slide at the time of this writing.
The Sell teams showed some profit as well. Our leading Sell team was the overpriced Baltimore Orioles who, through June 23rd, were on a 10-22 slide. Milwaukee was just 16-18 while our 3rd team, Colorado, went 19-14 (but is currently on a 5 game losing streak). The conclusion is that these were solid indicators that often times pointed to teams being overpriced.
For the purposes of this article, I switch gears and isolate only the home records of the 30 teams which I isolate from Best to Worst ranked from 1-30. On the chart below in the columns that follow, I then compare the teams batting and overall pitching for the YTD (year to date) on their HOME FIELDS. Because OPS numbers are better if they are higher for batting and lower for pitching, I invert the home pitching number by subtracting that OPS pitching number from 1000. I then combine that inverted OPS pitching number with the OPS home batting number and rank the teams from 1-30. By comparing the rankings with the ranking of the actual home W/L record, I can isolate the teams who are underachieving at home (BUY) and the teams who are overachieving at home (SELL).
As noted, this is the first time I will be isolating home numbers from those of the YTD. You will be experiencing the results along with me. I do have confidence this will provide value as it has consistently done so in every category I isolate.
Conclusions: As you can see from the Ranking Differential in the chart above, there are 3 teams who have a rank differential of +7 or more based on the sum of their OPS rank vs. their actual W/L rank, and 3 teams who have a rank differential of 7 or less based on the sum of their OPS rank vs. their actual W/L rank.
A positive difference indicates a BUY SIGN ON THE TEAM WHEN PLAYING AT HOME. A negative difference of more than -6 indicates a SELL SIGN ON THE TEAM WHEN PLAYING AT HOME. The following is a condensed list of the (3) BUY teams and the (3) SELL teams with the largest net rank difference.
St. Louis +17
Remember, these are based on the OPS rankings of the teams HOME batting and pitching for the YTD. Should the teams continue to perform as they have in the first approximately 40 home games, their W/L records at home will adjust in the direction of the BUY & SELL sign.
As with any of my analytical articles, remember that this is just one of many tools to be used in your handicapping arsenal. Current form of both pitcher and team and specific starting pitcher parameters should always be used as the basis of the handicapping before including any input from an analysis such as this.
For those of you who have followed the great success of my OPS Buy & Sell ratings in recent seasons, you will be eager to profit from my first list of 2017. After 7 weeks of action, all teams have played at least 41 games, more than ¼ of their season. I have enough data to feel comfortable in making these exclusive ratings.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, allow me to briefly review. In recent years, I have proven that the OPS (combination of OBP (on base %) and SLG (slugging %) is the most reliable indicator of a team or individual player’s success. In the past, I have simply used the batting OPS for each team, combined it with the pitching OPS for each team and compared the rank, among the 30 MLB teams, with the W/L rank of the 30 MLB teams. When there was a significant difference, it indicated a team’s W/L record would revert to the OPS ranking. The method had great success including the opening rankings of this season which indicated the Minnesota Twins, currently 22-18 and leading the AL Central, would, based on last year’s OPS numbers, show the biggest improvement from year over year. The Twins, currently 22-18, are in fact far better than their 103, MLB worst, losses of last year.
This year, I am taking the theory one step further and expect even more successful results. For those interested in the intricacies of the math, I will provide it forthwith. First of all, all numbers used are through Sunday, May 21st, 7 weeks of action. The averages used are .737 OPS for batting, .753 OPS for starting pitching and .709 OPS for bullpen pitching.
I subjectively assign a value of 40% for batting, 40% for starting pitching and 20% for relief pitching to determine a final rating, then ranking. This means that 100% of the batting and starting pitching differential is used while 50% of the bullpen differential is used.
For each of the three categories, batting, starting pitching and relief pitching, I will add or subtract the difference of their OPS in each individual category from the averages I quoted above with the % differentials quoted in the previous paragraph. I will then combine these numbers into a rating for all 30 teams and rank them from 1 – 30. By comparing it to each team’s W/L rank, I can formulate the strength of the buy/sell rating.
Below is the table used to formulate these rankings.
2017 MLB Buy/Sell Away Ratings
By Joe Gavazzi JoeGavazziSports.com
This is the companion article featuring 2017 MLB Buy/Sell Away Ratings with records through June 27, 2017. It is to be used in conjunction with the 2017 MLB Buy/Sell home ratings released on June 25, 2017.
For those who are not aware of the process, I use a formula of the OPS ratings (proven to be the most valuable indicators of success) that encompass hitting, starting pitching and relief pitching. Normally, the Buy/Sell ratings, which result from this analysis, are for ALL GAMES. This week, I have split the analysis into home/road numbers.
For the purpose of this article, I use only the AWAY records of the 30 teams which I isolate from best to worst, ranked from 1 to 30. On the chart below, in the columns that follow, I then compare the team’s batting and overall pitching for the YTD in their AWAY GAMES. Because OPS numbers are better if they are higher for batting and lower for pitching, I INVERT the AWAY PITCHING NUMBERS by subtracting the OPS pitching number from 1000. I then combine the INVERTED AWAY OPS PITCHING NUMBER WITH THE AWAY OPS BATTING NUMBER then rank the teams from 1 to 30. By comparing these rankings with the rankings of the actual HOME W/L RECORD, I can determine the teams who are UNDERACHIEVING ON THE ROAD (BUY) and the teams who are OVERACHIEVING ON THE ROAD (SELL).
2017 MLB BUY/SELL Ratings at the All Star Break
By Joe Gavazzi JoeGavazziSports.com
*FOOTBALL *BASKETBALL *BASEBALL
These are my highly anticipated BUY/SELL Ratings for the 2nd half of the MLB Season for games beginning after the All Star Break on Friday, July 14th. For those unfamiliar with the basis of these ratings, they are derived in a “Return to Form” methodology based on batting and pitching OPS numbers. In articles over the previous 3 years, I have proven why the OPS number (OBP, on base % + SLG, slugging %) is the best predictor of winning form both currently and for the future. As a means of comparison, note that the average OPS batting number is .749 in MLB, while the average starter OPS is .767 with the average relief pitching at .720 OPS.
Before I outline the parameters of the chart below, let’s take a look at an overview of the 1st half of the MLB Season.
As has become the case in recent years, we find that parity is the norm. 26 out of the 30 MLB teams are playing between .432 and .596 baseball. Only the Houston Astros, 60-29 (.674) and the LA Dodgers, 61-29 (.678) are above .600. Only SF at 34-56 (.378) and Philly 29-58 (.333) are below .400. In the National League, only 5 teams are greater than .500 meaning that were the Playoffs to start tomorrow, Washington, Milwaukee and LAD would be division winners with NL West teams Arizona and Colorado in the Wild Card births. The question appears to be whether perennial contender St. Louis and last year’s World Series Champ Chicago can catch Colorado who has 9 more wins than either the Cards or Cubs. A review of the BUY/SELL Rankings below, give you a clue as to why that could indeed be a reality. In the American League, Houston, Boston and Cleveland are the Division leaders. There are 4 contenders for the 2 Playoff spots. NYY, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Kansas City are the remaining 4 teams in the AL who are above .500. My best guess is that the Yankees return to form to claim one of the spots while the Tampa Bay revival is for real enough to hold off the Twins (one of our “SELL” teams) and the Royals.
The second area which must be noted is the increased scoring in MLB this season highlighted by the fact that there have been over 3000 homers at the All Star Break, an inordinately high number. This has translated into the fact that 75% of the games have been decided by 2 or more runs. This is a full 5% higher than the 5 year average of just over 70%. If you read my game analysis each day, you will note the most dominant first half trend of 26-0 (100%) for 1 run line category this year. I know you want a piece of that.
While this begins to play out, and the July 31st trade deadline looms, let’s take a look at the BUY and SELL recommendations following the All Star Break. As always, I point out that the “BUY and SELL” teams are not Play On and Play Against teams each day. These indicators should be used in conjunction with other handicapping methodology such as starting pitching, current form, and home/road dichotomies.
The columns in the chart below are mostly self-explanatory. The only nuance is that because OPS numbers for pitching are better if they are lower, I use an inverted pitching number based on the simple formula of 1000 – team OPS pitching. I then combine that inverted pitching OPS number with the batting OPS number, rank it from 1 – 30, compare it to the W/L percentage of each team and look for rank differences of 7 or more to create the BUY/SELL Ratings.
In checking the rank differential numbers in the chart above, we see there are 6 teams who have a rank differential of either 7 or 8 positions WORSE than their W/L rank. These are the SELL teams when playing ON THE ROAD in MLB. Conversely, there are only 2 teams with a +7 or more rank differential which indicates a BUY rating on these teams when playing ON THE ROAD. The following is a condensed list of these teams with their net rank differential.
Kansas City -7
Use these in conjunction with your MLB handicapping each day as a further indicator of these teams success or failure when PLAYING ON THE ROAD.
Monday, May 22nd
2017 MLB First Buy/Sell Ratings
Joe Gavazzi, JoeGavazziSports.com
Now let’s briefly review the parameters which have gone into the 4 (SELL SIGNS) and the 3 (BUY SIGNS).
Remember when I told you at the beginning of the year that the Twins would be the biggest BUY team at the outset of the 2017 Season. Well, the 45-43 record certainly vindicates my prediction for a team that won only 58 games last season. Today, however, I am telling you that the Twins are the biggest SELL team in MLB. Though they are greater than .500 with the 11th best record in MLB, they sport the #19 OPS batting rank and the #28 OPS pitching rank. That makes their combined rank #26 in MLB, a sure indicator according to these ratings, they will make a nose dive in the 2nd half. It would be shocking to see them continue on their 25-15 road pace.
The Rockies fall from grace has been precipitous in recent weeks with a 5-13 slide (following a 13-3 run which brought them to the pinnacle of their 2017 success). Yes, the batting numbers look good at Coors, as always. But they nose dive to a .692 OPS away, good for just the #25 road rank. The young pitching, which as a group, was way beyond expectations, has faltered of late with the now #16 numbers. Those combined for the 13th OPS rank in MLB, 8 spots below their #5 record. Once the pressure is applied from St. Louis and/or the Cubs, it will be interesting to see how this young team responds.
LA Angels (-8)
Always fun to watch the ESPN highlights when Angels sluggers Trout or Pujols slug a monumental home run. But the truth is the Angels .693 batting OPS is good for just #28 being equally poor both home and road. And an injured starting staff is unlikely to keep its head above water in the 2nd half of the year. The #24 rank is 8 spots below their W/L percentage indicating a 2nd half demise.
Those who were savvy enough to follow my SELL SIGN on Baltimore in late May have profited from the Baltimore slide of 17-30 following their 25-16 phony start. That has dipped the Birds to the 19th best record in MLB. Yet the OPS numbers say it will fall even further. That is because the Baltimore pitching is abysmal with the #29th ranked OPS number for starters and 25th ranked OPS number for relievers. Their 22nd ranked batting indicates, what was once a strength of the team, is also overrated. Continue to look to Play Against the Birds.
This may be a shocker considering it is not a surprise that the A’s have a 39-56 record good for 26th in the League. A major reason why they could make an ascent in the standings is their 14th ranked overall pitching. With a .753 OPS, it is particularly noteworthy to follow Oakland at home where their .767 OPS is a reason why they are 24-21 at home.
Can the good vibrations of All Star week carry over into a 2nd half surge by the Marlins? What few know is that in the last 25% of the season, Miami is on 24-16 run that followed a 7-22 dip. As a result, they are just 41-46, 21st in MLB. But their OPS rank is 13th best in both batting and pitching making their combined #12 rank 9 spots better than their YTD record. I see their 2nd quarter surge continuing into a stronger than expected 2nd half for the Marlins.
Here is a shocker! Few expect much from CWS with a 38-49 record, 27th best. But their batting and pitching are both ranked #21. The combination is 7 points better than their 27th rank. If this does indeed happen, there figures to be plenty of value because the Pale Hose are on a 25-39 slide following their unexpected 13-10 break from the gate.
There you have the (7) combined BUY/SELL Rankings for the 2nd half of the 2017 MLB Season. Remember to use them in conjunction with your other handicapping methodology and watch your profits soar.
Monday, May 15, 2017
“Part 2: Using Starting Pitchers OPS & ERA to Predict TRGS & W/L Record”
By Joe Gavazzi, JoeGavazziSports.com
From the chart above, I will select the Top 3 greatest negative rank differentials and suggest SELL ratings on these 3 teams. In a similar fashion, I will note the Top 3 positive rankings and suggest they are worthy of a BUY rating. In so doing, I will analyze the numbers of the chart to show how they are indeed worthy of these ratings.
Please note that in terms of handicapping specific games, none of these ratings or rankings include specific starting pitching numbers, home/road dichotomies for either pitchers or teams, multiple injuries for teams, or the current form of a starting pitcher or team.
In other words, these rankings will prove quite helpful as the teams adjust to their OPS numbers. But there are many other considerations to be used in day-to-day handicapping.
OAKLAND A’s - A 20-24 record for Oakland finds them tied for only the 20th best record in the league. But their incredibly strong starting pitching OPS of .690 is #2 in MLB behind only St. Louis. With an underrated rotation that sees names like Hahn, Triggs and Manaea to all have Top 20 OPS rankings and former ace Sonny Gray beginning to round into form, it will not be surprising to see the Oakland rotation carry this team to the + side of the ledger before long. Note that opening day starter Graveman is even rounding back into form after his stint on the injury list. Don’t be surprised to see Oakland, which is normally undervalued, as a solid money maker in future weeks.
TAMPA BAY Rays - The Rays have sprung to life in recent games with a 4-1 record while clouting 13 HR in their L6G. Despite a 23-23 record, this team is 10 positions higher in their OPS rank than that .500 level with positive OPS numbers across the board. Plenty of potential at the top of the rotation with the likes of Archer, Odorizzi and Cobb means that the Rays are a team to be considered in the near future.
MIAMI Marlins - As I have stated repeatedly in recent years, parity is a fact in MLB. In a normal season, 27/30 MLB teams will play between .400 and .600 ball. This year, there are currently 4 teams playing greater than .600 and 3 teams playing less than .400. Expect adjustments to be made to the record of all before the season ends. In the near future, that adjustment will come with a Miami team whose OPS rating is 7 numbers better than their #29 W/L rank of 15-28. This record comes courtesy of their 5-20 recent slide, a number which begs for adjustment. As I have pointed out in the past, any team who wins or loses 80% or more of their recent games over a span of 20 or more games will surely make the adjustment in the near future. As an example, consider the Yankees 1-4 dip after going 20-5 or the Astros recent 3 game slide on the heels of a 24-8 run up. In the OPS rankings, note that although Miami has negatives across the board, none is any more than -.21 from the norm. I fully expect Miami to be a money maker in the next several weeks.
MILWAUKEE Brewers - Topping our list of SELL ratings is a Milwaukee team who has the 8th best record in the league but just the #20 combined OPS rank. Milwaukee can look good many nights with the #3 OPS batting numbers of .791. But the pitching, which is ranked #29 for the starters and #25 for the bullpen, indicates the Brewers stay among winning teams figures to be short lived. Look to fade Milwaukee in the near future.
BALTIMORE Orioles - Tied with Milwaukee for the Top SELL rating is a Baltimore team who has the #5 record at 25-17 but the combined OPS ratings that are just #17. Baltimore is nipping at the Yankees heels because of their 15-4, best in MLB, home record. That alone makes them due for an adjustment The return of a healthy Tillman at the top of the rotation, should stabilize that portion of the team. But only first year phenom, Bundy, is among the Top 50 OPS starters and it would not be surprising to see that rubber band snap as teams adjust to his offerings. The recent nose dive on an early May road trip is an indication that success may be fleeting for the Birds.
COLORADO Rockies - Our third SELL rating is on the Colorado Rockies whose 28-17 record is not only #2 in MLB at this time but also one of the biggest shockers in MLB. This start has been fueled by a 15-7 road record, the best in the National League. With a young starting staff, it may be questionable as to how long this success continues. A further indication of a drop off may come from the fact that in NL play there are no fewer than 4 teams who have a greater run differential than the Rockies +7 (not a good sign for a team with the best record in the league). Of particular note may be the point of interest that when the Rockies go south, the results are not pretty with EVERY ONE OF THEIR DEFEATS THIS SEASON coming by 2 or more runs.
There you have a list of 3 BUY teams and 3 SELL teams to keep an eye on through the middle of June. I will return with updated lists as the season progresses.
It will come as no surprise when we see that the sum of the TRGS for these starters is 97-44. That is a lofty record indeed
considering you would make money even if the average line on their games was 2 to 1. Greatest value in these starters
follows the theory that the linemaker will price these starters in line with his YTD OPS meaning that the starters with the
largest OPS DIFF will, in theory, provide the best value, at home in the weeks ahead. As you can see from the chart
above, there are 5 pitchers with an OPS DIFF of +.200 or more. These include Chacin, Miranda, Volquez, Pineda and
Bergman (refer to the numbers).
Keep your eye on these 5 starters as money makers at home in the near future.
Now let’s take a look at MLB’s 25 WORST ROAD STARTERS.
This article fulfilled multiple requests for an article on the value of handicapping relief pitching in MLB. It will compare 3 different ways to analyze a successful bullpen speaking to reasons of past or current success of each measure. All numbers used for this article are through the All Star Break, July 13, 2017. Before I give an explanation of the methodology, a bit of reflection is necessary as a back drop for any bullpen article of 2017.
It is now been many decades since MLB teams used an “iron 4” pitching rotation. This starting rotation went out every 4th day of a 150 game season pitching mostly between 7 and 9 innings regardless of arm fatigue. That meant the handicapper could make the starter a predominant part of the handicap and only factor in a late inning closer with his availability.
All of that has changed considerably in the last 60 years. Now ownership and managers are far more conservative in their use of starters. In the 2017 season (whether it is live balls) a smaller strike zone, better hitting, or worse pitching which is leading to an outburst of runs (it is factual) that MLB starters are now lasting on average less than 6 IP/game. The balance of the innings are taken up by 4 categories of bullpen pitchers including long relievers, middle relievers, set up men, and closers. Good luck deciding which of those relief pitchers will throw on any given day. In short, specifically handicapping relief pitchers has become a crap shoot. So what could be done to make our best effort to incorporate the work of the bullpen as a part of the handicap.
The chart below represents 3 different ways of analyzing a bullpen’s efficiency. Those numbers include the OPS (on base % + slugging %), the ERA, and a more unique relief pitching index including strand % and save %. A team’s record at the All Star Break will be used as a method of comparison. One quick note; the strand % is an inverted number of runners inherited who scored for the relief pitching staff. That number is derived by subtracting the inherited runners who scored from 100. This strand rate is then added to the save % for the pitching index.
I have proven in articles in recent years that the OPS numbers for hitting and pitching are the final arbiters of success in MLB. That does not, however, mean that you should ignore other metrics and how they relate to a pitcher’s TRGS (team record game started). This article looks at the Best and Worst WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) for a starter with 20 or more innings either home or road. The records below indicate this important metric as a valuable indicator along with the OPS when making your daily handicapping calculations.
Because there are a plethora of starters that make up each category, I will simply break down the results into 4 categories with records through July 4, 2017, approximately the first half of the MLB season.
118-46 TRGS PLAY ON any HOME STARTER with a WHIP of 1.05 OR LESS.
112-51 TRGS PLAY ON any ROAD STARTER with a WHIP of 1.10 OR LESS (59-17 if LESS THAN 0.95)
101-83 TRGS PLAY AGAINST any HOME STARTERS with a WHIP of 1.55 OR MORE
161-72 TRGS PLAY AGAINST any ROAD STARTERS with a WHIP of 1.60 OR MORE
Always remember to WHIP IT prior to making your final selections of the day.
Best Home & Away Starting Pitchers for 2017 MLB
By Joe Gavazzi, JoeGavazziSports.com
Don’t Be Bamboozled by Starting Pitchers ERA’s
By Joe Gavazzi, Winning Sports Advice
Monday, April 24, 2017
Despite the preponderance of metrics and analytics which produce nearly every method of rating a pitcher imaginable, the ERA remains the rating that is best known, most used and most easily understood among the casual baseball fan. As a result, he knee jerks to its relevance when handicapping his selections. THAT IS A MISTAKE WHICH WILL BAMBOOZLE THE NOVICE HANDICAPPER MORE OFTEN THAN NOT IN THE COURSE OF THE MLB SEASON.
As I have proven repeatedly in the 3 recent seasons through my series of articles written, the OPS is the ultimate metric individually and in combination when determining past and future performance.
I believe that today’s article and the results of the next 4 weeks will once again prove to you the value of the OPS. The purpose of this article is to prove just that.
To do that, I will list a group of pitchers, along with their attendant personal won/loss records and TRGS records (team record game started), along with the starting pitchers OPS. I will break these pitchers down into 3 distinct groups based on their current ERA’s and OPS numbers. The purpose is to revisit this article in another 4 weeks to compare the respective records of the pitchers along with the ERA and OPS and prove that the OPS is a more reliable indicator than the ERA.
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Whip It Good… And Bad
By Joe Gavazzi JoeGavazziSports.com
Using Starting Pitchers OPS & ERA to Predict TRGS & W/L Record
By Joe Gavazzi, Winning Sports Advice, May 8th 2017
Scoring has reached recent highs in MLB this summer. The average score of an MLB game has now approached 10 RPG with OU lines reflecting such an outburst. A byproduct of such scoring is that run line results have zoomed to 8 year highs. In the previous 7 years, MLB games have been decided by 2 or more runs, a very consistent 70% of the time. Not this year! Through June, 74.2% of MLB games in the 2017 Season have been decided by 2 or more runs. In games ending the week of July 2nd, the average has increased to 76.3% (9.8 RPG) with 74 of 97 games decided by 2 or more runs.
For those unfamiliar with my MLB run line methodology, here is a brief primer. For the previous 7 ½ years, I have tracked the result of every MLB game for each team, both home and away, by margin of victory. Here is how I use this data. After handicapping the game with my usual methodology, I then refer to my run line charts to see if a team “qualifies” as a run line play due to their results in the current season or trending back to recent seasons. Often times, this turns medium and large priced favorites into underdog plays on the run line. As my clients wager their games by % of bankroll RISK, there is far greater profit potential with a high % of victory.
Below, I have listed, with results through June 30th of the 2017 Season, the teams, home and away, who have PLAY ON or PLAY AGAINST numbers of 80% or more through the 1st half of the season.
Teams who have won 80% or more of their home games by 2 or more runs…
Cincinnati 19/22 home wins by 2 or more runs
Teams who have won their AWAY games by 2 or more runs 80% of the time…
St. Louis 14/17 away wins by 2 or more runs
Tampa Bay 16/18
Kansas City 16/17
Teams who have lost at HOME by 2 or more runs 80% of the time…
Atlanta 17/20 home losses by 2 or more runs
San Diego 20/21
Kansas City 15/17
Teams who have lost their ROAD games by 2 or more runs 80% of the time…
Colorado 17/19 away losses by 2 or more runs
Kansas City 17/21
You will note the preponderance of 2 outstanding categories in the above results.
First is that the teams in the American League have a greater number of teams on the list. This is because scoring in the American League (as a result of the DH) is higher than in the National League. As a result, 3.7% MORE of AL games are decided by 2 or more runs than in the National League.
Second is the fact that there are more qualifying road teams than home teams. That is because 78.7% of all road games this season are decided by 2 or more runs while only 70.5% of home games are decided by 2 or more runs. This split is consistent with that of years gone by. It is a function of the fact that the home team does not bat in the bottom of the 9th if they are leading the game. That is reflected in the linemakers send out in home and road games.
Speaking of the linemakers send outs… he has not been caught off guard by this year’s changing results. He has begun to “squeeze” the run line prices giving the run line bettor lower underdog prices for his plays. Nonetheless, as long as these results continue, I can only assume you agree with me that we would far rather take underdog prices on run line plays than lay $2.00 on a big favorite.
With 6 weeks of data, it is very clear these pitchers have gotten off to terrible starts. Some of them have already been dumped from the rotation. As for the rest of them, they are automatic “Play Against” candidates until they show at least one return-to-form outing. Currently, these pitchers have a combined W/L record of 45-70, only a 39.1% winner.
Use this list, combined with your updated list from last week, which includes any starter with a less than .625 OPS and less than 3.00 ERA and you will have a strong basis for handicapping the worst and best starters in MLB this season.
2017 MLB Relief Pitching at the ASB
By Joe Gavazzi JoeGavazziSports.com
At the time of this writing, MLB teams have completed 5 weeks of action or nearly 20% of their games. This article focuses on the starting pitchers who have completed at least 25 or more IP of work through 5 weeks of action.
The purpose of the article is to compare a pitcher’s OPS and ERA with their TRGS (team record game started) and personal W/L record.
Remember that for betting purposes, the pitchers TRGS reflects our profit and loss. In that regard, a team’s batting OPS performance, as well as home/road dichotomy for that of both the pitcher and team, are other indicators to consider when referring to this data. Nonetheless, these opening weeks of action are often indicative of a team and pitcher’s early season performance based on his OPS and/or ERA. Conclusions of interest will follow the lists below.
For the purpose of this study and in the interest of space and time, we will only analyze the top pitchers in the league. An analysis of all pitchers has proven, in recent years, to provide consistent results with those reflected in the charts below.
Much like the HOME pitchers, we can see that the sum of these road pitcher’s OPS is 46-114. That means that even if the
average price on their games was 2 to 1, you would still make money betting against them. Also like the HOME list, it
can be hypothesized that the greatest play against value will come with the greatest OPS DIFF.
The 6 pitchers with a difference of -.190 or more include Lester, Blach, Pineda, Chacin, Moore and Corbin. These 6
starters should provide the greatest GO AGAINST value on the road in the weeks ahead.
Looking for pitchers who have the widest home/road dichotomy in MLB this year? Consider the 3 pitchers who are on
both lists. These would include Lester, Pineda and Chacin. Check the numbers for yourself to see how wide the
home/road splits are for these 3 starters who love pitching at home and hate pitching on the road.