The most important aspect for me in handicapping baseball is finding value, most around here do the same, but it tends to get tricky when we start discussing “how we find value”. One of the stats I like is BABIP, or Batting Average Balls Put in Play. This stat can be used with hitters and pitchers, and it’s important to note that the MLB average usually hovers right around .300. This is one stat that we can use to measure a player’s luck. ERA can be very misleading, especially when using a small sample size. How many times have you seen some pitcher with a 0-2 record and era north of 8.00 in his last 3 starts win easily as a +145 dog in that 4th start?
For me, I like BABIP because it can allow one to find value in either backing one team, or in fading another team. Most players will regress to the mean over time. There are some exceptions, for instance, Eric Byrnes has historically been a pop fly hitter, and those pop ups rarely fall in for hits, so his BABIP is typically below major league average.
Looking at last season, there were 139 pitchers that had at least 10 starts before the All-Star Break, and one finds that Dan Haren posted the best BABIP in the majors when he clocked in at .234. This led to an overall opp. avg of .189 over that stretch, as Arizona win 11 of 18 games he started. For me, this would have been fade material in the second half. Arizona still won 8 of his 15 second half starts, but his opp. avg went up to .267 and his era was closing in on 5.00.
Scott Feldman offers another example, he closes the first half with a BABIP of .241, which led to the Rangers winning 11 of his first 15 starts. His era was 3.21 and his opp avg was .222 as a starter in the first half. In the second half, add 40 points to that opp average, more than a point to his era, as the Rangers only won 9 of his 16 starts.
Both Haren and Feldman ranked in the lower half of the leader board when you look at the 122 pitchers who had at least 10 starts in the second half of the season, and both were north of .300 with their BABIP.
If you blindly faded Haren and Feldman in all of their 31 post-break starts, you would have lost 1.23 units, but I think it’s reasonable to think a handicapper would have found 3 to 5 games in which you avoided the auto-fade because of the price and/or other factors. It could have the Feldman game in Tampa when the Rays were laying 66 cents juice, or maybe it would have been the game in KC when the Royals were laying 32 cents. Ditto for Haren, would you have laid -154 or -142 to fade him? Eliminate those 4 games, and that 1.23 unit loss becomes a 3.46 unit profit.
BABIP can be a decent leading indicator when looking for over valued favorites and under valued dogs. Certainly, other factors come into play, most notably the price I’m paying.
Throw in your two cents, which indicators help you find value ?
H.R. 2607 and H.R. 2046 are potential legislation that could bring about the legalization of internet sports gambling in the U.S.
H.R. 2046 in summary . . . In effect, makes internet gambling legal.
Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007 - Amends federal law governing monetary transactions to establish an Internet Gambling Licensing Program administered and enforced by the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (Director).
Prescribes requirements for the licensing of Internet betting or wagering.
Provides that activities involving investment banking, payment and transaction processing, and financial transactions are shielded from liability if they are conducted in compliance with this Act and specified law.
Authorizes states, Indian tribes and sporting leagues to prohibit internet gambling licenses.
H.R. 2607 in summary . . . In effect, provides taxation framework.
Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2007 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to establish licensing requirements and fees for Internet gambling operators.
Requires Internet gambling operators to pay to the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network during each 30-day period of operation a license fee of 2% of all bets and wagers placed during the preceding 30-day period.
Requires the Director to grant Internet gambling licenses to applicants who meet criteria set by the Director and are generally fit to engage in the business of Internet gambling. Requires such operators to adopt appropriate mechanisms to ensure the collection of all taxes and license fees relating to Internet gambling that become due to federal and state governments.