The Week in Baseball Betting By the Numbers
by Robert Ferringo - 5/31/2011
The numbers don’t lie.
Baseball is a perfect study in dichotomy. With no clock, an outdoor playing area, and a reliance on elemental aspects like wood, leather, dirt and grass, the sport is an allegory of pre-industrial Americana. It’s a game played in communion with nature and seems to be a welcome relic of a distant time and place.
However, baseball can also be a defining sport in the Information Age. The game of baseball may be elemental in nature. But it’s also a sophisticated mathematical construct, a symphony of statistics and a physical interpretation of integers that create the foundation of the sport. Baseball, like all sports, is a game of action. However, there is no action within the game – from pitch selections to hitting matchups to player positioning – that isn’t dictated by the digits.
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To be a winning baseball bettor you need to understand these numbers. You need to immerse yourself in these integers and really get at the core of how things are developing on the diamond. Winning and losing can come down to the simplest of equations; a statistical regression here or a missed mathematical opportunity by not pinch hitting there can have a huge impact not only on the outcome of a game but, by extension, on your bank account. And that’s what really counts, eh?
Because after all, it’s all about the numbers.
With that in mind, here is a look at this week’s MLB By The Numbers:
0.81 –That’s the difference between Cliff Lee’s actual ERA (3.50) and his defensive-independent ERA. That means that the Phillies defense has been a drain on Lee’s performance. And he’s not the only one. Roy Halladay (2.42 vs. 2.56) and Cole Hamels (2.59 vs. 3.01) would also have lower ERAs with better defense behind them.
.193 – That is the batting average on balls in play (BABIP) for Josh Tomlin, the new Cleveland ace that has posted a 6-2 mark with a 2.74 ERA. The problem is that Tomlin averages less than five strikeouts per nine innings, meaning that he’s a contact pitcher. Since the average BABIP for all pitchers is around .300, that means that when the numbers start to even out he could be in for a long, hard fall.
1 – Runs surrendered by young Ryan Vogelsong in his last 26 innings of work in his last four starts. This could be the next in what is becoming a long line of young San Francisco pitching studs. The Giants are 5-1 in his starts and he is among the top 15 most profitable starters in the league.
2.11 – The defense-independent ERA ratio for Jair Jurrjens, which is the highest in the league. That means that his ERA should be more than twice as high (3.18) than what is actually is (1.51).
3 – Kansas City losses that Joakim Soria was responsible for over the last seven days as the closer for the Royals. He has blown five saves on the season after being one of the most reliable closers in the game through his first three years in the Majors. Had they locked up those five wins they would presently be in second place in the A.L. Central rather than nine games out.
4 – Number of teams that haven’t won at least 10 road games this year. Baltimore (9-14), Kansas City (6-16), Milwaukee (8-18) and Houston (9-17) have been train wrecks away from home this season. The Brewers are the only one of those clubs over .500.
4.12 – Average runs scored by Boston in April, during which they went 11-15.
5.32 – Average runs scored by Boston in May, during which they have gone 19-9.
6 – My prediction for the number of games in the NBA Finals. I – like just about everyone I know – will be pulling hard for Dallas and I still think they have a great shot. But I do admit is a terrible matchup for the Mavs. Should be a great series.
0 – My prediction for number of games in the 2011-12 NBA season. I think that the best-case scenario for next season would be the 50-game schedule we saw in 1998-99. That is the best-case scenario. But I am predicting no season; so enjoy those NBA Finals games while you can.
7 – Possible days that Jose Reyes could miss this week for the Mets. Reyes has been as good as anyone in the league this season and clearly has his game face on now that he is in a contract year. But he has taken bereavement leave due to the death of his grandmother. The Mets offense had been on fire, hitting an incredible .333 as a team over its last seven games.
11.6 – According to polling data, that is the aggregate support that Sarah Palin is presently receiving from Republicans toward running for president. That puts her behind Mitt Romney as the No. 2 Republican in the field and – if you permit a leap in mathematical logic – it means that she is currently the third-most likely to become President of the United States in 18 months. You sure we can’t have a do-over on that whole rapture thing?
29 – Number of starts that it took for Toronto lefty Jo-Jo Reyes to get a victory. I have contended for several seasons that Reyes is one of the worst pitchers in the Major Leagues and he has proven it time, and time, and time again. Reyes is now 1-13 with a 6.54 ERA in his last 29 starts.
40 – Percent increase in the likelihood of gliomas, a type of cancerous brain or spine tumor, if you talk on your cell phone for 30 or more minutes per day, every day, for 10 years. That is according to a landmark study on the topic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Not baseball related, but life-related. So there you go.
51 – Number of stolen bases that the American League-leading Blue Jays have swiped so far this year through 54 games.
58 – Number of stolen bases that Toronto managed in 162 games last year while leading baseball in home runs. The Blue Jays have actually increased their scoring from 4.66 runs per game to 4.88 runs per game this year by being more aggressive on the bases. That scoring increase comes despite a massive, league-wide scoring decrease.
64.67 – Percent of games won with the run line for road underdogs this year. That means by simply taking an extra 1.5 runs and laying some juice you could have cleaned the books’ clocks to the tune of a 2-to-1 ratio.
85 – The miles per hour of Brandon Webb’s fastball in his first rehab assignment in Double-A Frisco. He gave up five runs in 3.3 innings over the weekend. I am not holding my breath for him to make an impact for the Rangers this season.
770 – Dollars won for a $100 bettor that has backed young Mets starter Dillon Gee in his starts this year. Gee has earned the most profit of any starter in the Majors this year with the Mets going 7-0 in his outings.
1500 – Dollars won for a $100 bettor that has been on Arizona over the past two-plus weeks. The Diamondbacks have really come out of nowhere with a 15-2 rush since May 14. Granted, a very favorable schedule has played a huge part of that run. But anyone getting in early with the D-Backs would have padded their stack nicely.
-3267 – Dollars lost for a $100 bettor that has backed John Danks, Ubaldo Jiminez and Chris Carpenter this year. That trio is just 4-27 in their 31 combined starts. Danks was a hard luck arm last year and went just 16-16. But Jiminez and Carpenter combined to go 44-24 in 2010 before this year’s hard times. Danks has been a disaster and is 0-8 with a 5.25 ERA.
2-10 – Colorado Rockies’ road record in May. Colorado is just 8-20 in its last 28 games overall, but they have been particularly bad away from Coors Field lately.
19-47 – Minnesota’s record over its last 66 games. This team was 91-60 last year on Sept. 9. But they closed the year 2-9, were swept in three games in the postseason, and have started this season 17-35. This year the main culprit has been injuries and a 5.58 bullpen ERA.
6-20-1 – San Diego’s record against the total when facing a left-handed starter. The Padres can’t hit much at all in general. But they have been particularly atrocious against lefties.
22-5 – That is Cincinnati’s record against Milwaukee over the past two seasons. That mark includes a 16-5 record at home against the Brew Crew and it is going to be tough for Milwaukee to make any headway in the N.L. Central unless they can get some wins against the defending Central champion Reds or the current Central leaders, St. Louis.
32-14 – Texas’ record when C.J. Wilson takes the mound. He has been one of the most profitable pitchers in baseball since making the conversion to starter at the beginning of last season.
44-13 – Philadelphia’s record against Washington over the last three years.
Robert Ferringo is a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He is considered one of the top MLB handicappers in the country and has turned a profit in four of the last five years on the diamond. He closed 2010 with $6,000 in earnings over the last four months and is looking forward to continuing his exceptional earnings.
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