Looking 'Over' MLB's Top Scoring Ballparks
by Robert Ferringo - 6/18/2007
Don't take the 'under' when the wind is blowing out in Wrigley. Don't bet the 'under' in Colorado when a curveball pitcher takes the hill. Don't bet the 'under' when any Texas pitcher named Padilla, Tejeda, or anything else ending in a vowel take the hill. And don't take the 'under' when we're talking about the feelings of security, self-satisfaction and superiority that Red Sox fans have over Yankees fans.
There are tricks and trends to follow all over the Major League Baseball stratosphere when it comes to betting baseball totals. The starting pitchers and how they matchup up with the opponent's lineup is a given. Whichever fat slob of an umpire is behind the dish is component No. 2, and a underrated one at that. But one factor that I feel is generally misrepresented or miscalculated by the general public is the stadium in which the game is being played.
For example, everyone knows that Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia is a perfect place for a mugging or for an 11-run offensive explosion. But do you realize that while Citizens Bank is tops in the league in ballpark OPS and sixth in runs per game the Phillies are just 18-17-1 against the total this year? This is because the totals for games played in the City of Brotherly love are inflated to reflect the short power alleys and poor relief pitching that are its trademarks.
Conversely, cavernous Dolphins Stadium in Miami is generally regarded as a pitcher's park and a fantastic place to hide from authorities due to its expansive dimensions and general lack of attendance. Yet the Marlins have sailed over the total at a 63.3 percent clip on the season. An improved lineup that destroys left-handed pitching, a team ERA of 4.63 from the seventh inning on, an ace (Dontrelle Willis) with an ERA nearly a full run higher than his career average, and Miguel Cabrera's curl-fro are all contributing factors. But the largest reason is that the books and players are still playing the Fish in Miami like the soft-scoring cod they have been for several seasons.
Perception is reality in the gambling world. And with over 40 percent of the season in the books I've compiled a short list of the top 'over' ballparks in the Major Leagues this year. Some of the parks you may expect, and some you may be surprised by, but to this point here are the parks with the leading record against the total:
1. Comerica Park, Detroit (21-9-2 vs. total) - This is the perfect storm for an 'over' park. We have a team of sluggers (No. 1 in home runs with 97) in a shoebox stadium (350 in right and left field, 325 down the lines), with a horrendous starting staff and one of the worst bullpens (4.74 ERA) in the league. It works. The GAB has seen the second-most runs per game in the league (10.95) and no total is too high with guys like Kyle Lohse and Stormy Weathers on the mound. Hell, one of their best pitchers is named "Homer". What can you expect but a ton of runs?
2. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati (22-12-2) - The Tigers lineup has been wrecking opponents all season. Except Craig Monroe, that prick. The Tigers are the No. 1 scoring and hitting team in the league, so it's only natural that they are one of the top 'over' bets in the league. However, you would think that their totals would be through the roof and unplayable. Not true. The Tigers pitching staff has enough big names to hold the numbers down, even though their bullpen ERA (5.30) is third-worst in the league. Also, because Comerica saw the sixth-fewest runs per game in the league last year - they are No. 1 this year at 11.06 - I think the books are slow to adjust.
3. Dolphins Stadium, Florida - (19-11-3) - As the summer wears on, I think this could be one of the stadiums that fall quickly off this list. But for now, the Fish have been exciting all 20 fans at Dolphins Stadium with an average of 10.12 runs per game. However, traditionally this has been a pitcher's haven with one of the lowest ballpark OPS's in the MLB. Also, the Marlins have been killing left-handed pitchers bur are just 4-8-1 versus the number in their last 13 starts against southpaws. Translation: the books are catching up.
4. Safeco Field, Seattle (18-11-1) - One of the league's best offenses (No. 3 in batting) has been laying waste to pitchers in the Great Northwest. Combine that with a team ERA of 4.84 and you have one of the most explosive teams in the league. Interestingly, Safeco has seen the fifth-fewest home runs in the league but is still the No. 12 scoring park in MLB. Clearly Ichiro has taught his teammates how to employ death by 1,000 paper cuts. A solid indicator is that there have been 10 games where the wind was blowing out at Safeco, and the Mariners are 8-2 'over' in those games.
5. Miller Park, Milwaukee (19-13-2) - I'm approaching the Brew Crew like I'm approaching the Marlins: cautiously. They too are one of the top scoring teams against lefties, yet they're just 2-5 against the total in their last seven against southpaws. Miller Park is just 17th in ballpark OPS and the Brewers are just 18th in runs per game. Also, Ben Sheets, Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas are a combined 23-14 against the total in their starts this season, including 13-6-2 versus the number at Miller Park.