Numbers -Trends MLB Betting and Regression

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These are actually two different topics I wanted to look at in an ongoing effort to share some insights, and hopefully make us all more self-aware. Nearly everything in life and sports-betting has a mean, and extreme fluctuations are going to regress at some point. Determining what is “extreme” is the key.

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We’ve talked about sustainability in wagering, and that anything over a 55% win-rate is just not something that can be maintained over the long haul, is spite of what you hear. From recent first-hand experience I can attest to that. For the first six weeks of MLB we were hitting a remarkable percentage and of course we went into free fall mode. It is inevitable.

What is also inevitable is the the New York Mets games will eventually be lower scoring, or played to the under. This season-to-date 74% of their games have gone over the posted total. I went back ten years and the highest percentage any team finished a season with was 61% (the Twins last season), whereas the average was about 55%. So, in the case of the Mets, one of three things will happen soon. The books will adjust the total up enough, New York will score less, or their opponents will score more.

It is just going to happen, – it’s a question of when. And it’s something a good handicapper will be looking for signs of so they can get out in front of the move to ride the streak out.

You can make the same assumption on the other end with the Royals and Indians. Both are only going “over” 35% of the time and that will regress upward at some point.

What some people will do is turns these statistical anomalies into a trend, which is in my opinion a very dangerous thing to do. Some people simply bet trends, but you have to be careful. I see some trends that are simply too obscure to use. They’re interesting, but shouldn’t really be a factor. For example, the Marlins are 5-1 when they play on Sundays this season. That means absolutely nothing, yet people use it as a factor. The Marlins are 28-29 over the last three years when playing on a Sunday, which is of course a more realistic number and give you exactly NOTHING to use in handicapping.

It is no different than when I talked about pick sellers’ using small subsets to justify their existence. There is always regression and there is always a trend someone can use to rationalize a bet. Anyone can turn numbers into what they want them to say, ignoring the realities. I’ve done it. In the end it’s like the old accounting saying that “figures lie and liars figure.”

If the price of a team looks too good to be true the it usually is.

The slice-and-dice machine on QVC does not work as well at home as the infomercial made it look. You know these things to be true. So, think things through whether your buying or capping. Often times the right answers are the simple ones, not the ones that are clogged with numbers and trends.

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