MLB Betting Strategy - The Pummeled Pitchers
Sports Betting Strategies
MLB – The Pummeled Pitchers
If the only information you held about a specific baseball matchup was that one of the teams involved in that game has been allowing many runs recently, would you tend to bet that team or to fade them (i.e. bet against)?
If you are familiar with my work, you know I’m a contrarian. I go against the grain because that’s where we often find value bets. Based on this mantra, I would put my money on the team whose pitchers have been getting pounded in the last few days.
In this article, we are going to look into the following case:
When a Major League Baseball team goes through a streak of games where they allow many runs, should we bet or fade them in their following contest?
The results presented in this statistical study are based on historical data from the 2010 to 2016 regular seasons. It contains data on over 17,000 baseball games.
Past trends may not be reflective of what’s going to happen in the future. However, if the trend goes in accordance with my initial intuition, I do have faith that it’s likely to repeat itself in the future. In the current setting, recall that we are expecting to bet the team who has been allowing lots of runs recently.
1. The 2-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
Suppose Team A lost its previous two games while allowing a large number of runs in each contest. Should we bet or fade Team A?
1.1 Basic Exploration Under the 2-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
What if Team allowed a minimum of six runs per game during that two-game losing stretch? Or a minimum of seven runs per game? Or eight? Or nine?
The table below answers all of those questions by placing fictitious $1 bets on or against Team A after such a 2-game span (based on the data from the 2010 – 2016 seasons):
Very nice!!! I am stoked to find out that our initial hypothesis is valid: we are much better off betting Team A than fading them. As a matter of fact, the profit numbers are way higher in the former case than the latter.
What’s even more exciting is that the highest winnings occurred on a case where the sample size was smaller, which equates to a lofty ROI (Return On Investment). More precisely, we gained $26.46 over 169 + 154 = 323 games when putting our money on Team A after it lost two games in a row by allowing 9+ runs in each meeting.
You know what? Things are about to get even better in the next section.
1.2 The Road/Home Split Under the 2-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
Teams may not behave the same way depending on whether they are playing on the road or at home. As a result, I have decided to break down the earlier results as a function of the location of the game.
Recall how we made $26.46 when betting Team A after it allowed 9+ runs in its previous couple of matches. That profit was split up as follows: +$28.82 on the road versus -$2.36 at home. Things could not be clearer than this: stay away from such teams when playing in front of their home crowd, but put your money on them when being the visiting team.
Based on the evidence, we retain a first potential winning system:
- Strategy #1: Betting Team A when on the road after it lost two straight games by allowing a minimum of 9 runs per match. Profit = +$28.82 over 155 games. ROI = 28.82 / 155 = +18.6%.
One more case stands out: the same as above, except that we require a minimum of seven runs surrendered per game instead of nine. We are going to keep digging with respect to this second prospective betting strategy:
- Strategy #2: Betting Team A when on the road after it lost two straight games by allowing a minimum of 7 runs per match. Profit = +$23.35 over 642 games. ROI = +3.6%.
Fading Team A yields a negative profit under all cases considered. So is betting Team A when playing at home. Those options must be left out for sure.
1.3 The Odds Split Under the 2-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
We are off to a fantastic start with two potentially lucrative systems. Let’s now check the performance of those couple of gambling strategies as a function of the money line on Team A. Should we bet only when Team A was established as the favorite? Or only as an underdog? Or do the odds don’t matter?
I have separated the possible money lines into 11 ranges. We then look at the profit made within each such range.
Let’s get going by taking a peek at how Strategy #1’s profit of $28.82 was obtained as a function of Team A’s odds:
Out of the 11 money line categories, there are only two where we ended up in the red. In both cases, the losses were minimal (-$0.92 and -$0.60). Therefore, I would argue that this angle does well no matter what the odds are.
Let’s verify if we reach the same conclusion with respect to Strategy #2:
We lost a good chunk of cash in the 1.952 – 2.05 range. However, there would not be any logical reason to claim that we should bet this system, except if Team A’s money line lies between 1.952 and 2.05. That’s particularly true considering the previous category, 1.80 to 1.952, was pretty profitable with a gain of $10.83. It just would not make sense to impose such a restriction.
For similar reasons, I do not advocate staying away from cases where Team A’s money line is greater than 2.75, even though we lost -$1.24 - $0.85 = -$2.09 in this range during the 2010 to 2016 regular seasons. Why? Notice how we made huge gains in the preceding category (2.50 to 2.75): +$14.54.
As a consequence, I claim that this system is expected to do well no matter the odds.
1.4 The Season Split Under the 2-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
I do not like the future outlook of a gambling system unless it has shown consistent gains from season to season in the past. That’s why I always take a look at the yearly profit of each potential system.
Let’s inspect the season-by-season performance of Strategy #1:
You could hardly expect better results than this: six winning seasons compared to a single losing year. Also note that the worst season led to $3.15 losses, which would not take a significant blow to your bankroll. I definitely endorse this betting strategy.
Let’s keep rolling by checking the yearly past performance of Strategy #2:
Not nearly as great as the previous system, right? We discover four winning seasons versus three losing ones.
Basically, the overall $23 profit came from just two successful years: 2010 and 2013. That’s not the kind of pattern that you hope to detect.
For these reasons, I recommend excluding this gambling system from your investing tool box.
2. The 3-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
What if the losing spell lasted three games instead of two (still surrendering numerous runs in each game)?
2.1 Basic Exploration Under the 3-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
Once again we begin by examining the results from betting or fading Team A during the 2010-2016 period (the amount of each wager being $1):
The good news is putting money on Team A turns out yet again to be the better choice under all four scenarios, as opposed to betting against them.
The bad news? The profit figures aren’t as high as they were in the 2-game stretch investigation that we covered earlier. None of them exceed $10.
Let’s cross our fingers that we obtain more significant winnings in the subsequent sections.
2.2 The Road/Home Split Under the 3-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
We now break down the results above contingent on the location of the game:
I was hoping for more conclusive results… The two highest profit amounts are $11.94 and $10.49. Since the latter was obtained through a sample size of just 49, which is unreliable and could be due to random luck, we’ll focus on the former case:
- Strategy #3: Betting Team A when on the road after it lost three straight games by allowing a minimum of 7 runs per match. Profit = +$11.94 over 127 games. ROI = +9.4%.
As you can see, the sample sizes were becoming smaller in the two tables above. In case you are more curious, requiring a minimum of five runs allowed per game produced -$24.13 when betting Team A versus -$14.26 when fading them.
2.3 The Odds Split Under the 3-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
The $11.94 winnings secured by Strategy #3 are not that great considering they were obtained over a 7-year span. Hopefully, we can find bigger gains by restricting ourselves to a specific range of odds on Team A.
It seems crystal clear that we should stay from cases where Team A’s money line is above 3.00 (or +200 in American format).
Doing so yields the following modified gambling system:
- Strategy #3B: Betting Team A when on the road after it lost three straight games by allowing a minimum of 7 runs per match. Bet only if the money line on Team A is 3.00 or less. Profit = +$18.99 over 113 games. ROI = +16.8%.
Now, we’re talking!
2.4 The Season Split Under the 3-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
As we did earlier, the final step before accepting a specific betting system is to check its past performance. Accordingly, let’s scrutinize Strategy #3B’s results from year to year:
Five moneymaking seasons out of seven sounds good. Also note how we did not experience a single year where we suffered big losses, which is a good sign.
3. The 4-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
Let’s dig even deeper by reviewing the situation where the bad streak extends to four games.
Note: the minimum number of runs squandered per match in the current section will go from 5 to 8, instead of 6 to 9, to avoid tiny sample sizes.
3.1 Basic Exploration Under the 4-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
Team A has lost four consecutive games, while allowing several runs in each contest. Should we bet or fade them in their following meeting?
Let’s see what $1 bets would have done under this setting:
Overall, putting your money on Team A shows up as a much better alternative than fading them. This goes in accordance with everything we’ve seen thus far. However, no gains above $10 were obtained during the 2010-2016 MLB regular seasons.
The most fruitful case is the following: betting Team after it has lost four games in a row with at least six runs allowed per matchup (+$9.32).
3.2 The Road/Home Split Under the 4-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
Why don’t we break down the results depending on whether Team A played on the road or at home?
A minimum of six runs allowed per game when playing on the road is undoubtedly the most remunerative scenario. We’ll focus on this potential system:
- Strategy #4: Betting Team A when on the road after it lost four straight games by allowing a minimum of 6 runs per match. Profit = +$15.81 over 84 games. ROI = +18.8%.
Obviously, a sample size below 100 may not be extremely reliable. Still, this is our best option by far. We’ll keep digging for further validation regarding its trustworthiness.
3.3 The Odds Split Under the 4-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
Did Strategy #4 perform well across all odds, or only on specific ranges?
It’s pretty remarkable that this betting strategy generated positive gains in all 11 odds categories, except just one: 2.50 to 2.75.
There is no way I’m going to recommend savvy sports investors to bet an angle, except in a very tight range of money lines. Those losses probably occurred by luck (or lack thereof).
The appropriate conclusion here is the following: the system under study does well across all odds. This factor should not be part of your decision-making.
3.4 The Season Split Under the 4-Game Losing Pummeled Pitchers Streak
Should we pursue Strategy #4 in the future? The only hurdle left is the season split, which means checking whether the overall gains of $15.81 were acquired via just one or two lucky season(s) or not.
It’s reassuring to perceive five positive years versus two losing ones, both of which led to very negligible losses (-$0.18 and -$0.06).
As you can see, the highest number of bets in a year turned out to be 17. This betting strategy has shown good reliability, but don’t expect to buy a house with the winnings coming from this particular angle!
4. Eliminating the Losing Requirement
Basically, there were two requirements that had to be met in order for us to place a $1 bet: Team A had to have lost its past “x” games, and they had to have allowed a minimum of “y” runs in each of those meetings.
What if we remove the first criterion? More specifically, we are now going to try betting and fading Team A when they have surrendered a minimum number of runs in each of their past “x” games, while not necessarily have lots all of them.
Do we get more promising gambling systems under these circumstances? The short answer is: no.
Take a look at the basic results yourself:
In the 2-game stretch, we get a nice $29.95 profit.
Recall how we obtained even better results when focusing on Team A when playing on the road (when requiring to have lost both previous matchups). In particular, we racked up +$28.82 when the minimum number of runs allowed per game was nine.
When removing the losing requirement, the profit goes down to $26.76 (not shown here). Not only is the profit amount smaller, but it was obtained through a larger sample size, which makes the ROI less enticing.
For these reasons, I prefer to stick to the case where we impose Team A to have lost its last two contests.
In the 3-game span setting, the results weren’t super good earlier, and they aren’t getting better here. I dug deeper via the road/home split, the odds split and the season split. I couldn’t find any betting strategy that outperformed the one we retained earlier.
Gaining $15.55, as seen above, sounds good. However, we only won $2.50 on the road versus $13.05 at home.
The most favorable scenario we found previously when including the losing requirement yielded a $15.81 profit with a corresponding 18.8% ROI (minimum six runs allowed per game & being the visiting team).
If you abolish this requirement, the winnings now equal $14.86 over 162 games (as opposed to 84 games previously) which equates to a 9.2% ROI, a severe reduction. Once again, all signs indicate to retain the losing requirement!
We did not work this hard for nothing. We came up with three winning systems that I am going to combine into just one. Let me summarize clearly here:
STRATEGY: Bet the road team if it has lost…
- its past 2 games by allowing a minimum of 9 runs in each contest;
- its past 3 games by allowing a minimum of 7 runs in each contest (don’t bet if its money line is greater than 3.00);
- its past 4 games by allowing a minimum of 6 runs in each contest.
In order to determine the past performance of this three-in-one system, you cannot simply add the wins, losses and profit amounts from each of the three strategies. Why? Because you’ll end up including the same game several times.
For example, suppose a team has surrendered exactly 10 runs in each of its last four games (all losses). That specific game will be counted by Strategies #1, #3B and #4 described earlier. If that team loses its next game, we are going to lose three units instead of just one. If they win, it will be wrongfully counted as three wins.
To ascertain the true performance of this all-in-one betting strategy, I had to go back to my big dataset. I entered the criteria required for betting as detailed above and here are the final results:
126 bets won, 127 bets lost, profit = +$37.58, ROI = 37.58 / (126+127) = 14.9%.
Based on these figures, your expected winnings per season are 37.58 / 7 seasons = 5.37 units.
What does that mean? If your average bet is $100, you can expect to earn $537 per MLB season. Not bad at all!
If you combine this strategy with all the others presented on this website, you are ready to wreck havoc on your bookies!
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Professor MJ (www.professormj.com)
Disclaimer: I am not telling anyone to go out and bet those angles blindly. There are no guarantees in the sports betting world. This article is presenting findings from past data and then trying to find what seem to be potential winning strategies. Bet at your own risk. I am not responsible for any losses incurred from such wagers.