Saturday, 6 July 2019

Breaking Down The Break

I mentioned Major League Baseball's All-Star Break this week, and an interesting article on the topic was published by @BradAllenNFL posting the question:

Is there any truth to the idea that betting baseball in the second half of the season is a losing proposition?
The All-Star Break (ASB) in baseball does seem to be more impactful than those in the NHL or NBA. I actually have one system that is active for the first games back after the break, but this, like my early season systems, is more for fun than any serious money given the small sample size. 

Brad's article was triggered by his observation that:
The last few years my baseball betting seasons have followed a familiar pattern; get nicely ahead by the all-star break then slowly drip profits back in the second half.
Conventional wisdom would have it that early in the season, off-season changes mean that the strengths and weaknesses are not yet fully known, and that as the season progresses, outcomes should be more predictable.

As readers of this blog will know, the evidence suggests that this simplistic view is incorrect. I talk about favourites a lot, mostly because in recent years, its been hard to lose money backing hot favourites. 

While the term 'hot favourite' is not a technical term, for baseball I use the -200 line (1.50) or shorter to define a hot favourite, and the before and after All-Star results from backing all these favourites blindly is:
These results combine the Money Line (ML) with the Run Line (RL), and so 52% of the profits (excluding 2019) come before the ASB, which rather like the Leave margin for Brexit, is insignificant. 

For 'white hot favourites', i.e. those at -300 (1.33) or shorter, the numbers since 2014 show a more significant split.

Excluding the current season, before the ASB, Money Line Favourites are down 1.95 points while after the break they are +19.60 points

For the Run Line, before the break has an ROI of 5.7%, while after the break it's a loss of 4.3%. The sample size is just 79, so don't read too much into these numbers. 

When it comes to my basic T-Bone System, the big difference is in games played in National League ballparks, where prior to the break, the ML and RL ROIs are 15.3% and 18.6% respectively, while after the break they lose 4.6% and 10.4%. The American League hosted matches are profitable throughout the season.

Regarding the Totals markets, my Overs System looking to benefit from 18 innings rather than 17 is profitable before the break +9%, versus 6.2% after, while the less lucrative Unders System, which looks for 17 inning games, is up 2.3% before, and 2.1% after, the break, although again, here games in National League parks are loss makers after the break. 

Basically, I agree with Brad's conclusion that edges do evolve as the season progresses, but that...
if you’re sharp enough to turn a profit on baseball in the first half the year there’s no reason you can’t back it up in the second half. Just watch out for some funkiness around the all-star break.
Month by month, backing hot favourites does show July to be a problematic month, something I've mentioned before:
Contrast the profits in July before the break of 16.80 points with the losses of 11.80 after the break, although all the losses (and more) come in the first game of a series. Avoid these, and July is profitable throughout.

One final thought from Brad was this:
Finally there’s the human element of the bettor involved. “MLB is a grind,” Andrews says. “Fifteen games a day nearly every day takes a toll on a bettor. This is the point where you just get so tired of the grind that you need to take some time off. By mid-July the focus of the nation turns to the NFL training camps beginning to spin up. Getting ready for NFL season is tempting.”
The beauty of my strategies is that they take about five minutes a day to process so burnout isn't an issue, and while I have started to prepare for the upcoming (American) Football season, it doesn't impact my MLB at all.

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