MLB Betting Strategy - The Scoring Drought
Sports Betting Strategies
MLB – The Scoring Drought
In this article, we are going to investigate the following situation:
When a Major League Baseball team goes through a streak of games where they struggle to score runs, should we bet or fade them in their following game?
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.
Suppose Team A has scored very few runs in each of its past “x” games. We wonder whether we should bet or fade Team A in their next meeting (“fade” = bet against).
1. The 2-Game Losing Scoring Drought
First, we are going to investigate the case where Team A not only lost its previous two games, but they lost them by scoring very few runs.
1.1 Basic Exploration Under the 2-Game Losing Scoring Drought
Assume Team A was shutout in its last two games (obviously, both losses). How did they fare in their following match? How about if they lost both previous games by scoring a maximum of one run in each contest? Or a maximum of two runs per game? Or a maximum of three runs per game?
Below are the results from placing $1 bets on or against Team A after such a 2-game losing scoring drought (based on the data from the 2010 – 2016 seasons):
If you take a look at the profit columns, both from betting or fading Team A, you’ll see quickly that we lost money in all cases considered. In other words, there isn’t a single promising betting strategy to be found here.
Let’s not get discouraged from such findings! As you will see very soon, the sun is about to shine…
1.2 The Road/Home Split Under the 2-Game Losing Scoring Drought
A hidden factor that might come into play is the location of the game. Based on this hypothesis, let’s break down the results from the table above into two separate cases, depending on whether Team A played on the road or at home.
Betting Team A as the visiting team turns out to be a bad idea, no matter the severity of the scoring drought. However, betting against them under such circumstances seems like it could be a money maker!
As a matter of fact, we won close to $5 by fading Team A after it got shutout on two consecutive occasions. The amount of the winnings is not very impressive and the sample size of 52 + 35 = 87 games is not sufficiently large to make the results significant. Therefore, we won’t retain this potential system.
Nonetheless, we are going to preserve a couple of prospective betting strategies:
- Fading Team A when Team A on the road after it lost two straight games by scoring a maximum of one run per match. Profit = +$7.10 over 542 games. Return On Investment (ROI) = 7.10 / 542 = +1.3%.
- Fading Team A when Team A on the road after it lost two straight games by scoring a maximum of two runs per match. Profit = +$16.02 over 1373 games. ROI = 16.02 / 1373 = +1.2%.
Meanwhile, the last table above demonstrates that betting or fading Team A when playing in front of its home crowd does not lead to any winning system. The only exception might be the case of backing Team A after being shutout two times in a row, but once again the slight profit combined with the low sample size lead me to discard it.
1.3 The Odds Split Under the 2-Game Losing Scoring Drought
Let’s dig a little deeper with respect to the two potential betting strategies described above. Are there any indications that certain sets of odds provide more lucrative situations?
Let’s assess the role of the money line under the current setting. In order to do so, I have separated the possible money lines into 11 ranges. We then look at the profit made within each such range.
We now take a look at how the $7.10 profit generated from the first strategy was distributed as a function of Team A’s odds:
The striking finding from the table above is that all of the profit was made in the very last odds range. More specifically, we won $7.80 when the money line on Team A was greater than +200 in American format, which is the equivalent of 3.00 in decimal format.
Since the strategy under study suggests betting against Team A, we wagered on big favorites whose money line was -220 or less (1.4545 or less, in decimal format). As you can see above, we won 36 bets and only lost 6. That’s an awfully small sample size…
What about the second strategy? How was the $16.02 profit made as a function of the odds?
Things are getting pretty interesting here! If you take a hard look at the profit column, you’ll discover that we lost $10.97 when the money line on Team A was 2.50 or less, whereas we earned $26.99 with odds higher than 2.50. Most importantly, those winnings came from a reasonable sample size.
We keep hold of the following betting strategy:
Fading (i.e. betting against) Team A if Team A is the visiting team with odds larger than 2.50 after it has gone through a 2-game streak where they lost both contests by scoring a maximum of two runs per game. As a result, we are betting a home favorite facing a squad who has struggled offensively over its past couple of games.
Under such circumstances, we would have netted a $26.99 profit through a 241-91 record (sample size = 241 + 91 = 332 games). ROI = 26.99 / 332 = +8.1%.
1.4 The Season Split Under the 2-Game Losing Scoring Drought
A good way to gauge a system’s reliability is to check its performance across years. We hope to find consistent winnings, as opposed to big up-and-down spikes in terms of yearly gains.
Without further ado, let’s inspect the season-by-season performance of the lone betting strategy we have retained thus far:
Very nice!!! We distinguish six winning seasons versus only one where we ended up in the red (the 2013 season). You can hardly hope for cleaner results. It looks like we have a valid system that has a promising outlook for the future!
2. The 3-Game Losing Scoring Drought
We redo the same analysis, but this time in cases where the length of the losing scoring drought was three. In plain English, we look at how Team A did after undergoing a 3-game stretch where they lost all of them, while scoring very few runs in each contest.
2.1 Basic Exploration Under the 3-Game Losing Scoring Drought
Let’s pretend we had placed $1 bets after a team underwent such a 3-game losing scoring drought:
The only budding system might be to bet Team A whenever it lost three games in a row, while being limited to a maximum of one run in each of those contests. Such a strategy led to a $6.27 profit over 179 games. Nothing to write home about, though.
The remaining profit figures from the table above are all negative, except betting Team A after getting shutout on three successive occasions. However, who wants to trust a sample size of just 10 games?
2.2 The Road/Home Split Under the 3-Game Losing Scoring Drought
We now break down the results above contingent on the location of the game:
Generally speaking, it’s pretty amazing how the winnings/losses were evenly split between the road and home cases. For example, recall how we won $6.27 from betting Team A when the maximum number of runs scored in each of their past three (losing) games. That figure came from gaining $3.87 on the road versus $2.40 at home.
The main conclusion to remember is that the location of the game did not have a major impact on the gambling outcome.
2.3 The Odds Split Under the 3-Game Losing Scoring Drought
We have only found one system worth of note in this section thus far. Let’s see how the $6.27 profit was obtained as a function of the money line.
Such small winnings is nothing to get overly excited about. If we can find a range of odds where the profit was at the very least $10-$15, we might want to put this new system through the season split validation. Otherwise, we are just going to wave the white flag.
That’s it, I am capitulating!
Betting odds higher than +150 (i.e. 2.50 in decimal format) yielded a $9.83 profit, which is not large enough for it to be seriously considered for future use. Since such gains were obtained via seven full seasons, that equates to 1.4 units per year. That’s negligible, and not worth the risk in my humble opinion.
In conclusion, there isn’t any promising gambling system based on the 3-game losing scoring drought. Why not take a look at a streak of length 4?
3. The 4-Game Losing Scoring Drought
The sample sizes will keep diminishing, as we now require Team A to have gone through a stretch of four straight games where they lost and did not score many runs in any of them.
3.1 Basic Exploration Under the 4-Game Losing Scoring Drought
Here are the results from placing $1 bets on the game that followed a four-game losing scoring drought by Team A:
The most fruitful case seen in the table above is +$5.94 when fading a team that just lost four consecutive games, all of which ended by scoring 0 or 1 run. Under such context, we would have won 16 bets and lost 9 during the seven-year period covering the 2010 to 2016 MLB regular seasons. Just 27 bets over the course of seven years? That’s way too small and unreliable!
3.2 The Road/Home Split Under the 4-Game Losing Scoring Drought
Why don’t we break down the results depending on whether Team A played on the road or at home?
You can spot a couple of profit figures above that are higher: $8.89 and $11.50. Such amounts are not earth-shattering, and I also dislike the fact that the former concerns a strategy to fade Team A, whereas the latter suggests betting Team A. Such contradictory assertions make me feel wary of those potential systems. I’ll need some pretty convincing numbers from the following sections to get me on board.
3.3 The Odds Split Under the 4-Game Losing Scoring Drought
One of the two strategies we have retained from the preceding section advocates to fade Team A when they are playing on the road after suffering a four-game losing streak where the number of runs scored in each of them did not surpass 3.
Let’s see if we are better off betting this angle on favorites or underdogs by breaking down the $8.89 profit across many ranges of odds.
Betting this system when the money line on Team A was higher than 1.952 increases the overall payback to $10.43. Notice how we made a profit in five of the last six odds categories. We’ll keep this strategy in mind for further investigation.
The next system we had unveiled in the previous section claimed that you should bet Team A when playing at home after going through a four-game losing stretch where they did not score over 2 runs a single time.
Please take a look at the odds split under this setting:
We manage to increase our winnings by staying away from the case where we bet big favorites (-200 or more, which is the equivalent of 1.50 or less in decimal format). In this situation, our profit turns out to be $15.18 over 103 games. Once again, those are borderline acceptable numbers…
3.4 The Season Split Under the 4-Game Losing Scoring Drought
We have decided, in this section, to keep track of two so-so systems. Looking at their performance across the years might help us decide whether we wish to use these betting strategies in the future or not.
The consistency isn’t bad, nor great either. We note five winnings seasons compared to two losing ones. There were also three years where the profit finished slightly above $0.
Did the second system do well from year to year?
You could basically copy-paste my comments from the preceding strategy. The results are relatively good (albeit not great).
4. Eliminating the Losing Requirement
Thus far I have required Team A to be undergoing a scoring drought and to have lost all of those games. The goal was to make sure that Team A felt like things were going badly.
For example, we took a look at the case where a team lost four straight games in which they scored a maximum of three runs in each contest. But what if we remove the condition of having lost all of those games?
We might now include a team whose latest four outings ended with the following scores: lost 6-1, won 3-1, won 2-0 and lost 5-0. Offensively speaking, they scored 1, 3, 2 and 0 run(s). Such a team is experiencing a scoring drought, but things may not feel so bad since their record was 2-2 over those four games.
Still, I have scrutinized this modified version of the scoring drought effect to see if we can find a moneymaking system.
Let me summarize quickly the findings. In the vast majority of cases, the profit amounts were decreased (sometimes HUGE deteriorations) compared to the situation where we required previous games to be losses.
In the end, I could not find any good system when removing the "losing requirement."
Regardless, I have decided to show you the basic results emerging from betting/fading Team A following 2, 3, and 4-game scoring droughts (while not having necessarily lost those games):
The only occurrence of a profit above $5 is when we bet Team A after it has gone through a 3-game stretch without scoring over one run. Under these conditions, we netted a $15.80 gain over 219 games.
I dug deeper by looking at the road/home split, the odds split and the season split. Overall, the findings were not good enough to warrant betting this angle in the future.
Ultimately, we came up with one definitively good betting strategy, and a couple that were borderline acceptable. Depending on your risk tolerance level, you may want to adopt just the first one, or all three.
If you asked me, I would contend that you should just focus on the first one. The other two showed numbers that weren’t so great, and I hate keeping a strategy that directs me to bet Team A, and another that tells me to fade them.
Let me recap the set of conditions for all three systems:
STRATEGY A: Suppose Team A loses two straight games in which they did not score more than two runs during each contest. If their next game is on the road and their money line is above 2.50, bet against them. In other words, you are betting the home favorite.
- +$26.99 over 332 games (ROI = 8.1%)
- Expected profit per season = 3.86 units ($26.99 / 7 seasons)
STRATEGY B (proceed with caution since the results are less convincing): Suppose Team A loses four straight games in which they did not score more than three runs during each contest. If their next game is on the road and their money line is above 1.952, bet against them.
- +$10.43 over 245 games (ROI = 4.3%)
- Expected profit per season = 1.49 units ($10.43 / 7 seasons)
STRATEGY C (proceed with caution since the results are less convincing): Suppose Team A loses four straight games in which they did not score more than two runs during each contest. If their next game is at home and their money line is above 1.50, bet them.
- +$15.18 over 103 games (ROI = 14.7%)
- Expected profit per season = 2.17 units ($15.18 / 7 seasons)
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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.