About once a season, I like to dig through my database and look for extremes in MLB games to see how teams respond in the next game. For instance, if a team explodes for an unusual number of runs or hits, does it carry over into the next game? How about if a team’s bullpen gets extensive usage in a game, how does that play out the following day?
Let’s take a look at some of these betting systems that have produced intriguing results in the first half of the MLB season and see if we can put them to use in the final 2¹/₂ months.
System No. 1
Avoid home teams in non-divisional games that were shut out the prior game
Home teams that were shut out in their prior game are just 15-27 in non-divisional games this year for -17 units, a return on investment of -40.5%.
Steve’s take: Hitting, or lack thereof, can be contagious. Factor in the absence of motivation that would come with facing a division opponent and it seems these offensive droughts can carry over from game to game, even for a team playing at home. In fact, if anything, these teams fall victim to overpricing because they are at home against a less-familiar opponent. These 42 teams were outscored by an average of 5.0-3.9 in the follow-up game.
System No. 2
Home teams off big offensive games have cleaned up on divisional opponents of late
In the month before the All-Star break, home teams that scored double-digit runs in the prior game won 12 of 15 games versus divisional opponents, accounting for 7.7 units of profit and an ROI of 51.3%.
Steve’s take: This is literally the opposite of System No. 1 as hot-hitting home teams in divisional games were a great bet over the final month of the first half. As offense typically picks up in the summer months, this is clearly an angle that could carry over into the second half.
System No. 3
Road teams off a shutout win were solid wagers in the first half
In the first half of the season, road teams that came off a shutout victory proved to be a sound wager in the follow-up game, going 39-31 for +10.45 units and an ROI of 14.9 percent.
Steve’s take: Poor offensive performances tend to carry over. In this case, the road teams are aided by a lesser price and have produced a good return as they have held the opponent to 3.7 runs per game in the next game, well below the league average of 4.6 for a home team.
System No. 4
Home teams have reacted well off embarrassing pitching performances
There were 41 occasions in the first half in which a home team was coming off a game in which it allowed 12 or more runs. Those teams have bounced back nicely, going 28-13 for +15.35 units of profit and an ROI of 37.4 percent.
Steve’s take: Bettors aren’t exactly lining up to bet teams with roughed-up pitching staffs, but it seems that home teams that got hit hard in the prior game have been motivated by it and have responded well, holding their next opponent to 4.3 runs per game. As you can tell by the enormous ROI on this system, many of the qualifiers, and winners, were home underdogs that compiled a record of 13-7 for their portion.
System No. 5
Overpricing drives the value away from teams coming off big hitting games
Avoid getting trapped into betting teams that banged out 15 or more hits in the prior game, as they were just 52-61 in the follow-up game in the first half, dropping from 11.7 runs per game to 4.4 in a single day. This system has resulted in a loss of -18.8 units and an ROI of -16.7%.
Steve’s take: Oddsmakers tend to shade the numbers toward teams that had big hitting outings the prior day, and for the most part, these explosions tend to be flukes. With a record under-.500 in the follow-up game, backing these teams has proven to be a loss leader.
System No. 6
Power surges have carried teams the past 2 ¹/₂ months
Since the beginning of May, teams that hit five or more home runs in the prior game have compiled a scintillating record of 20-6 in the follow-up game, maintaining an incredible level of offensive performance in scoring 7.6 runs per game. The betting profit on these teams has been +12.1 units, good for an ROI of 46.5 percent.
Steve’s take: Teams have really ridden the momentum of a big power outing, and though this system has come up just 26 times in the span of 82 days, it certainly makes sense to track box scores for five or more home runs with this level of payback.
System No. 7
Road teams coming off a game without a home run and facing non-divisional league opponents have been remarkably awful
These visiting teams went 69-118 in the first half, losing 47.6 units for backers, resulting in an ROI of -25.4%!
Steve’s take: If you ‘re looking for a system that comes up often AND produces big results, look no further. Road teams coming off a game in which they didn’t hit a home run have struggled in the unfamiliar parks of their non-divisional league opponents. This makes more sense when you consider that these teams did not play in these less-familiar hitting environments at all in 2020. Continue fading these teams the rest of the way.
System No. 8
Simple fact, fade teams that struck out a lot in their prior contest
Teams that struck out 15 times or more in their prior game followed up with a 35-56 record in the next game, resulting in -24.8 units and an ROI of -27.3 percent.
Steve’s take: Teams that strike out 15 times or more in a game are obviously not seeing the ball well. This is a telltale sign of a team that is a great fade opportunity. Home or road really doesn’t matter either, as these teams are producing less than 3.9 runs per game. The record has gotten worse as the season wears on, 12-30 since May 25.
System No. 9
Don’t fade quality home teams off a game in which they left a lot of runners on base
Home favorites that left 12 or more men on base in the prior game tend to bounce back well from that, going 26-13 in the first half of the season for +5.1 units of return and an ROI of 13.1%.
Steve’s take: While it would seem that this situation could produce a hangover effect due to the disappointment of squandering opportunities in the prior game, the actual result has been the opposite. These teams did something right in getting players on base the prior game, and that part of it tends to carry over, as they wind up scoring a healthy 5.3 RPG the next time out.
System No. 10
Tracking bullpen usage has proved beneficial in the early going
There was an extremely interesting breakdown in team results based on its bullpen use in the prior contest. Here are the numbers:
- Bullpen used fewer than three innings in prior game: 351-318 for +29.02 units (ROI +4.3%)
- Bullpen used 3-5 innings in prior game: 755-831 for -140.2 units (ROI -8.8%)
- Bullpen used more than five innings in prior game: 207-169 for +44.12 units (ROI 11.7%)
Steve’s take: This is relatively easy to explain, and valuable for handicappers who heavily weigh bullpen performance in baseball as much as any other factor. I can easily see how backing teams with rested bullpens is a sound strategy, so the first part makes a lot of sense. I can also see how a team whose bullpen went 3-5 innings could struggle, as the availability of key relief pitchers is probably in question. These types of games usually are contested and managers tend to call on their best arms, leaving their availability for the next game in question. The third part mostly involves games that are inning-eaters, where key bullpen personnel are rarely used, though there are exceptions. These types of games don’t tend to tax the best relievers who might be called upon in key situations in the follow-up game.
System No. 11
Winning or losing a game late has been a huge deal for the follow-up game
A lot of momentum can come from whether a team wins or loses a game in the late innings. Here is a breakdown of the records of teams in the first half depending upon what end of a late-inning pitching decision the bullpen earned.
- Bullpen received LOSS in prior game: 197-257 for -73.2 units (ROI -16.1%)
- Bullpen earned WIN in prior game: 306-249 for +31.35 units (ROI +5.6%)
Steve’s take: Rallying for a late win or blowing a late lead can have a big carryover effect on teams as the former tends to galvanize a ballclub while the latter demoralizes it. Pay special attention to the official pitching decisions given in games as they’ve proved to be a fundamental factor for backing or fading teams in follow-up games.
System No. 12
Bullpens saving a game provides a nice momentum boost for next game
Close wins, particularly those ending with a potent closer sealing the game, have provided a nice boost for the team’s next game. Coming off games in which their bullpen earned a save, teams have gone 343-298 for +17.05 units and an ROI of 2.7%. Compare this to the record of teams off a game in which they didn’t earn a save: 970-1020 for -84.07 units and an ROI of -4.2%.
Steve’s take: It seems that close wins can be the fuel teams need to propel them on to further success in the next game. This swing of 6.9% on ROI can account for the difference in winning and losing in baseball betting.
If you’re serious about your baseball handicapping, you will consider betting systems like this in your future handicapping. Many of the principles represented in these systems are foundational factors that need to be considered regardless of their simplicity. It can make the difference in winning or losing. Keep tracking the box scores the rest of the season and keep cashin’ tickets.