Using Bat/Home Run Ratio in MLB Handicapping and Betting
Baseball sure has changed over the course of the past 20 years. It seems as if Billy Beane and his "Moneyball" philosophy has turned baseball (and other sports) into an analytic and sabermetric frenzy. With all the new statistics these days, it seems overwhelming and hard to follow for the average fan. Oddsmakers have capitalized, however, using these new categories to create sharper lines as it relates to MLB sides and totals .
One statistic that is actually very easy to understand is At Bat/Home Run ratio (AB/HR). This is way to gauge how frequently a batter hits a home run. You simply divide the total number of at bats by the number of home runs hit. The career individual leaders for AB/HR are Mark McGwire (10.61), and Babe Ruth (11.76).
What we can focus on from a handicapping perspective with AB/HR are the team numbers. Do teams with a higher AB/HR ratio tend to win more games? Do they go "over" the total more than others? How can we utilize this statistic to beat oddsmakers day-to-day? Also, how can we determine what these numbers mean regarding the current futures market, and is this an important stat for a team to do well in if they are to make a playoff run?
2019 AB/HR Team Leaders (as of 4-22-2019)
Mariners 15.8 (16-9 SU) (16-7-2 O/U)
Brewers 16.9 (13-11 SU) (10-13-1 O/U)
Dodgers 18.2 (15-9 SU) (12-12 O/U)
Yankees 19.3 (12-10 SU) (10-12 O/U)
Twins 19.7 (13-7 SU) (12-8 O/U)
Astros 20.2 (13-9 SU) (9-13 O/U)
Cardinals 21.7 (13-9 SU) (14-7-1 O/U)
Athletics 22.0 (12-13 SU) (14-11 O/U)
Nationals 22.2 (10-11 SU) (13-8 O/U)
Reds 23.3 (8-13 SU) (4-17 O/U)
Diamondbacks 23.6 (12-11 SU) (12-9-2 O/U)
Padres 23.8 (12-11 SU) (9-13-1 O/U)
Rangers 24.4 (12-9 SU) (11-10 O/U)
Braves 24.5 (11-10 SU) (11-8-2 O/U)
Rays 25.0 (15-8 SU) (10-12-1 O/U)
White Sox 25.1 (9-12 SU) (13-8 O/U)
Royals 25.8 (7-16 SU) (14-8-1 O/U)
Phillies 25.9 (12-10 SU) (12-10 O/U)
Cubs 26.2 (10-10 SU) (10-9-1 O/U)
Mets 26.7 (12-10 SU) (15-5-2 O/U)
Angels 28.2 (9-14 SU) (7-15-1 O/U)
Red Sox 30.7 (9-13 SU) (12-9-1 O/U)
Blue Jays 31.7 (11-12 SU) (10-13- O/U)
Orioles 31.8 (8-16 SU) (16-8 O/U)
Rockies 34.8 (10-13 SU) (8-13-2 O/U)
Marlins 40.0 (6-16 SU) (10-11-1 O/U)
Pirates 41.5 (12-8 SU) (8-12 O/U)
Indians 42.1 (12-9 SU) (11-10 O/U)
Giants 47.0 (9-14 SU) (7-14-2 O/U)
Tigers 60.4 (10-10 SU) (7-13 O/U)
125-101 SU is the combined record currently (55.8%)
114-108-4 O/U is the combined totals record (50.4% to the OVER)
112-107 SU is the combined record currently (51.1%)
117-92-10 O/U is the combined totals record (53.4% to the OVER)
96-125 is the combined record currently (42.9%)
96-118-7 O/U is the combined totals record (43.4% to the OVER)
What does this tell us?
Looking at the SU win totals, you'll notice from the three different groups, it dips down each level from 55.8 percent, 51.1 percent, to 42.9 percent. This should not surprise us as the teams that hit more home runs frequently (especially with runners on base) will tend to win more games. The one big exception I see here is the Rays, who are 15-8 SU. However, they are complemented by a great pitching staff that can offset those numbers.
Regarding the total, the numbers are above 50 percent OVER for the first two groups, but the last group sees a significant drop-off at 43.4 percent OVER. Not surprising teams that struggle to hit the longball see totals going UNDER more often.
What about postseason implications?
Last season saw the Dodgers and Red Sox meet in the World Series. The Dodgers were at 23.7 AB/HR and the Red Sox at 27.0. Boston's offense, however, got hotter at the right time and they were able to prevail. Let's look at the last nine World Series Champions and their AB/HR ratio during the regular season.
2018 Red Sox 27.0 (No. 11)
2017 Astros 23.6 (No. 1)
2016 Cubs 27.7 (No. 13)
2015 Royals 40.1 (No. 24)
2014 Giants 41.8 (No. 18)
2013 Red Sox 31.7 (No. 7)
2012 Giants 54.0 (No. 30)
2011 Cardinals 34.1 (No. 13)
2010 Giants 33.9 (No. 17)
You'll see that all these World Series Champions range from 1st to 30th in AB/HR ratio. The 2012 Giants are a head-scratcher that they could win the trophy being the worst team in that statistical category. I guess it means if you play the game like our forefathers did, small ball, bunting, moving runners over, you can still be successful. The way today's game is trending however, chicks dig the longball.
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