Friday 11 June 2021

Sticky Situation in MLB

Last month, I wrote this in regard to the MLB: 

The Totals Systems combined are comfortably in profit after 179 games (29.96 units) but interestingly all the profit is from Unders with Overs slightly down, although making up ground after a slow start to the season.

Overall, Unders is the winner in 51.7% of matches, but in our subset of selections, the strike rate is currently 62.9%.

It appears that we may now have an explanation for why the Unders is performing so well. The latest Sports Illustrated magazine has an article titled "The inside story of how rampant pitch-doctoring in MLB is pumping pitchers up and deflating offenses" reporting that:

Over the past two or three years, pitchers’ illegal application to the ball of what they call “sticky stuff”—at first a mixture of sunscreen and rosin, now various forms of glue—has become so pervasive that one recently retired hurler estimates “80 to 90%” of pitchers are using it in some capacity. The sticky stuff helps increase spin on pitches, which in turn increases their movement, making them more difficult to hit. That’s contributed to an offensive crisis that has seen the league-wide batting average plummet to a historically inept .236.

The current World Series champions Los Angeles Dodgers are called out specifically:

According to the data, L.A. has by a large margin the highest year-to-year increase of any club in spin rate on four-seam fastballs, which are considered a bellwether pitch. In fact, the Dodgers’ four-seam spin rate is higher than that of any other team in the Statcast era. There is no proof the Dodgers are doctoring baseballs, but nearly across the board, their hurlers’ spin rates on that pitch have increased this season from last.

The Dodgers declined to comment.

However, the Dodgers have been one of the non-profitable teams for this strategy this season, and along with the Padres and Giants have made this a non-starter in games involving NL West teams. In NL East matches however, the Under is winning 68.4% of the time. 

In the AL, where the Designated Hitter rule applies, matches involving an American League team, system matches are going Under 66.2% of the time.

Now that the issue of tampering with the ball has been exposed, it will be interesting to see how the Totals markets, as well as the leagues, react. We may not always immediately know why an edge exists, but if you wait until an explanation is found, you'll have missed the boat. 

The T-Bone System is firing on all cylinders this season too, with a 100% record this month and a season ROI of 5.6%, while the hot favourites are up 11.1% on the season. After losing 6.7 units in April, the system is now up 26.9 units.  

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