Sunday, 24 July 2022

Humidor Dead Balls

With the break in baseball for the All-Star Game this week, I've been digging around in the MLB numbers this week trying to understand what might be causing the decline this season in home runs, hits and strikeouts and aside from the Designated Hitter (DH) rule that has been much discussed, there has also been a change to the type of ball being used. 

According to Sports Illustrated, there is a new "less lively ball" in use throughout the MLB, although interestingly the article mentions that it was introduced last year, but not everywhere. I would love to know where but I'm not sure these statistics are available and according to this CBS article, this mix wasn't intended. 

Not surprisingly, a "less lively" baseball isn't going to travel as far as the previously "more lively" baseball. What would have been a Home Run in 2021, at least in some games, becomes a deep fly-ball out in 2022. 

Apparently all 30 ballparks in MLB now use a humidor for storing the balls. I was aware that Coors Field used one, I believe as a condition for allowing the Colorado Rockies to become an expansion team (they play about a mile above sea-level where the air is obviously thinner), but I wasn't aware that they were now in use everywhere.

Last season 10 clubs had them, (5 NL, 5 AL), and as cigar aficionados will know, the purpose of a humidor is to dry out the ball in humid climates and dampen it in dry climates, and of course the drier the baseball, the further it flies.
By design, the baseball does not carry as far because of more uniform manufacturing specifications. (It was introduced last year, but this is the first season with 100% use of the less lively baseball.) Add the use of humidors in all 30 ballparks for more uniform storage protocols, and you get the end of a Rabbit Ball Era from 2016 to ‘21.
No wonder the Totals systems have become unusable. It was apparent that something had disrupted the markets, but until now I was thinking it was more likely the DH rule, but the change of ball is clearly a significant factor and I shall sleep well tonight. 

The CBS article concludes with this:
Bottom line, the baseball is not carrying the same way it did the past few years. The home run rate is down significantly early in the season, and because hitters have yet to adjust, offense is way down too. The season is still young and we need a lot more data before we have a full understanding of how this baseball works and the humidor's impact. The early returns suggest a return to 2013 and 2014, the last time teams averaged fewer than a home run per game, and offense was this low league-wide.

There's never a dull moment in sports betting with changes like this coming along - seemingly every season in the US sports.

The annual MLB system of backing favourites in their first game back had another profitable year, and all-time (well, since the data started in 2004) the ROI numbers for this simple system are now 13.2% (Money Line) and 12.5% (Run Line). Some of you might recall that I mentioned this back in 2016, if not prior:

One trend that did hold true again this season was that of favourites doing well in their first games after the break. The rationale for this is that although the better teams are likely to be better represented at the All-Star game, many of those will only put in a less than exhausting cameo performance, while the majority of their players enjoy the break and get some rest which apparently benefits better teams more than worse teams.

These once a year trends are of limited value of course - come next year and 99% of people reading this will have forgotten about it.

Hopefully some of you enjoyed a boost to your accounts this week but I suspect most fell into the 99% category.

The numbers for Away (or Road) favourites are even more impressive at 20.1% and 29.8% respectively. It's just a pity there's only the one All-Star game a year.

The Women's Euros Quarter-Finals wrapped up yesterday with two Draws from the four games, and a profit whether you backed the Draw in all matches or just the 'no-odds-on' game. It was very nearly three from four with Sweden unable to score against Belgium until stoppage time.

While we only have 12 Semi-Final games with prices from Women's Euros and World Cup, the four Draws mean that, as in the men's game, backing the Draw is a profitable strategy. 

Three matches had an odds-on favourite, with one Draw, and nine had no such favourite and three Draws. 

England are likely to be odds-on on Monday against Sweden, although they have drifted significantly, while the Germany v France game looks fairly even and would currently be a 'Toss-Up' if it were an EPL game. 'Toss-Ups' in men's elimination games have an ROI of 34%

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