How to Bet Based on MLB Stats

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D.S. Williamson

April 4th, 2019

MLB Stats to Follow

The 2019 Major League Baseball season is upon us! Check out three MLB stats categories that all baseball handicappers should follow. By paying attention to these four categories of stats, baseball bettors can find great success wagering on America’s pastime. 

Starting Pitcher Stats

Successful baseball betting starts with pitching. Yes, for MLB teams to win baseball games, they must score runs. Whether runs are scored in any baseball game depends on pitcher/batter relationships.

Pitchers that have great control and can manage 6 to 7 innings without giving up more than 2 to 3 runs are excellent pitchers to back. It almost doesn’t even matter which team the starting pitcher faces unless it's a squad that has clearly dominated the starter in the past.

Notice the word “pitcher” instead of the word “team”? That’s because team ERA and team WHIP might be the most overrated stat used to determine baseball wagers. Always start your handicapping by comparing individual pitchers’ ERA and WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).

Bullpen Stats

After studying starting pitcher stats, move to bullpen stats. BP stats are incredibly important to get an idea of which team might have a chance at scoring runs in the later innings.

This is a key thing to get a grasp on when handicapping a game because few starting pitchers throw for more than 7 innings. Check team bullpen ERA, but also check how many home runs the bullpen has allowed.

If you can, try to get an idea of how the manager likes to use his bullpen. For example, if there is a specific middle reliever who always gets an inning of work every other day. Ned Yost at Kansas City takes his starter out after the 6th and then uses one or two setup men in the 7th and 8th before putting in his closer in the 9th. Yost follows this pattern in almost every Royals game. Kansas City won the World Series when they had the best bullpen in baseball. All Yost did was follow the script.

Also, be careful about putting too much emphasis on strikeouts compared to walks. Managers use walks to set up inning-ending double plays or to get to a better pitcher/batter matchup. St. Louis’ bullpen is 3-1 as of April 4, and they’ve walked 16 batters, which is second most of any bullpen in MLB.

Batting Stats

It’s not that batting stats are unimportant; it’s that they must always be considered in relation to bullpen stats and starting pitching stats. The top hitting team right now is the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs bat .330 as a team, but the team is only 1-4 on the moneyline as of April 4.

So far, Chicago’s strong bats haven’t led to wins. By contrast, Tampa Bay is 5-2. The Rays lead MLB in bullpen ERA. Tampa’s relievers have a 0.64 ERA. They allow batters to hit .167. The Rays, meanwhile, hit .211, but because they’ve got great starting pitchers and the best bullpen in baseball, they’ve got a better record than the Cubs.

One more thing to note is that stats mean nothing on their own. All baseball stats, or stats in any sport, for that matter, are only important in comparison to betting value. Look for baseball stats that confirm value wagers, and study every stat in relation to betting value.

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