Baseball 101: Winning stats, trends and angles

June 26, 2001 10:52 AM
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Beginning with this issue, GamingToday’s Mark Mayer will report weekly on focusing on statistics that bettors are apt to find useful as they pursue picking winners.

Narrowing the Odds debuts below.

Just when you think you know all the stats you ever needed to know, Mayer begins clocking things that are not as obvious.

Prior to joining GamingToday’s staff, Mayer kept stats for Vegas Insider, the Daytona Beach News Journal and Florence (South Carolina) Morning News.

Standings may be the bottom line in baseball, but endless roads of information and trends are available to explain how teams succeed and fail. Inevitably, facts tend to fall in the cracks for the average bettor.

All of us with a passion for sports, and an occasional fling at beating the house in our favorite sports book, can use a little direction. The odds may be in favor of losing, but the goal of this this column is narrowing the gap.

No Bull From Pen:

Starting pitching is still the most important tool sports books rely upon to determine opening lines for games the following day. However, this is the age of the bullpen, where the complete game has become an endangered species.

Long relievers and closers should be figured in to a bettor’s decision to play a particular side or total. The most overrated stat in baseball is how teams fare when leading or trailing after eight innings. Simply put, the status quo is virtually secure.

Here are the best and worst pitching staffs past the sixth inning.

Bullpen victories and saves are vital information for bettors, since starting pitchers are often prisoners to the pitch count. When Randy Johnson throws more than 140 pitches in a game, it can affect his future outings.

On the other hand, nothing can be more disconcerting that seeing a reliable closer such as San Francisco’s Rob Nen blow a 3-0 lead in the ninth. Bets are too often made on the starters, but the pen is proving tougher these days.

Not Their Turf

Purists believe in day baseball and grass fields. Cincinnati and Tampa Bay Rays the turf, but forgot how to win on the carpet. The Reds are a dreadful 8-26 on turf, including 2-10 during the day. Tampa Bay, a sorry franchise in itself, is 15-27. The D’Rays are also 6-22 on natural grass.

Seattle, of course, can win this year on Teflon. The Mariners are 51-18 on grass and 4-1 on turf. Boston (11-2) owns baseball’s best mark on turf, but don’t expect legendary Fenway Park to abandon grass.

Money Market

The dedicated sports bettor who likes to play progressions would surely want to track how various teams have done against the line through the season. The numbers often favor betting the surprise teams, (Chicago, Minnesota, Philadelphia) and weigh heavily against the heavy favorites (Texas, Oakland, N.Y. Mets).

While betting Seattle throughout the season would have been sheer genius, daily wagering against the favorites is not a bad way to go. Since last Thursday, the ”˜dogs’ are 30-24 with some high-priced pitchers taking the fall.

Here are some of the expensive defeats.