Friday, 26 June 2020

Long Division

How the 'empty stadium' factor will influence the 'home advantage' in baseball this summer remains to be seen, but the biggest advantage (batting last) of playing at home will not be changed. 

Aficionados of the game might be interested to learn that in the early days of baseball: 

the home team could chose to bat first, and would sometimes do so to gain a tactical advantage (for example, by trying to rattle an opposing pitcher by forcing him to pitch in front of a hostile crowd before he had had a chance to adapt). Most managers realized however that the tactical edge of batting last in the final inning was much more precious than any short-term gain from batting first.
Historically the Home side wins about 55% of games in baseball.

While the 60 game schedule is not yet finalised or released, it's almost certain that more games than usual (at least as a percentage) will be Divisional games, so in preparation I took a look at the last few seasons to see how the market behaves for matches in this category.

Readers of this blog will know that in most of the US sports leagues, Divisional games have their own characteristics with the teams playing such opponents several times a year in the case of baseball and ice hockey and home and away every year in the NFL where 50% of regular season games are Divisional and the markets historically under value the road team.

But back to baseball, and here are some statistics going back to the 2012 season for 'hot' favourites, which for the purposes of this discussion are teams priced at 1.5 or shorter, which is -200 in American odds. 

As readers will know, hot favourites have been unstoppable since 2012 with an ROIs of 6.3% and 5.7% on the Money Line and Run Line respectively. The average line on these selections has shortened from -224.8 (1.45) in 2012 to last season's -256.1 (1.39) while the number of selections in the same period has jumped from 202 to 474. That should equate to at least 175 selections in the shortened season ahead.   

In Divisional games, the ROIs are 6.3% and 7.8% overall, but when the Away team is a hot favourite, the numbers jump to 15.8% and 16.2%, and in the American League to 17.9% and 18.4%.

The findings for the T-Bone System are less exciting with the ROIs since 2012 dropping in Divisional games from 7.1% and 7.2% to 3.9% and 0.9%.

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