Thursday, 25 June 2020

MLB Sprint

Some good news for the Summer with baseball looking like it will be back, albeit for just a 60 game schedule and with a couple of significant rule changes. 

The Designated Hitter rule will be universal and in extra innings, each side will start with a runner on second base.

Baseball has experimented with this in the minor leagues, and according to @JJCoop36:

Unable to accept the idea that a Draw (1/2 a win each) is perfectly acceptable to most people after three hours of contest, MLB is trying to reduce the number of games that stay tied until the wee hours. The "runner on second base" rule should accomplish this even if it messes with our statistics.

The regular season becomes a sprint rather than the usual 162 game marathon, so there will be differences in how managers approach these games. Loss aversion is likely to be higher, as is the probability that many teams will stay in contention for the play-offs much later in the season than usual, simply because there is less time for them to drop out of contention. 

The planned schedule will see the season open around July 24th and end on September 27th, with the playoffs and World Series immediately thereafter.

While the schedules aren't yet released, it is reported that teams will not venture outside their "regions." So teams in the East divisions of the the leagues will play each other, as will Central and West teams, so there will likely be no East v West or East v Central games for example. 

It also looks likely that within each region, teams will play the majority of games against others in their own division instead of adding more inter-league games. One report suggests that each team:
"will play 10 games apiece against its division-mates for a total of 40 games. The remaining 20 games will come against the other division, though it's unclear if it will be an even breakdown of four games against each inter-league opponent."
There is always the possibility that further COVID-19 will change these plans, but for now it is looking hopeful.

Readers will know that backing hot favourites later in the season is a successful strategy with an overall ROI of 6.9% on the Money Line and 7.2% on the Run Line over the past eight seasons and close to 1,250 matches. For road teams, the ROIs are in double figures over this period, but with empty stadiums, perhaps the market will be less inclined to over-bet the Home teams? I have a feeling that more competitive games as the season winds down may reduce the profitability but something to watch.

With the increase in Divisional games, systems that take this parameter into account should have relatively more selections. 

Also worth considering is that implementing the Designated Hitter rule in every game should see more runs being scored, as should the "runner on second" rule.

If the markets don't adjust, or if they over-adjust, there will be value to be found in this area, but readers of this blog will know where value in the Totals markets has traditionally been found. No one has ever seen the DH rule applied in a NL Division game before, so this is new territory. With change comes opportunity.

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