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Preview: Handicapping Baseball Games

Handicapping Baseball Games

Updated: 2012-04-15T21:51:31.748-04:00


Game Picks for June 1


Yesterday was Upset Day. KCA over the Kevin Brown and the Yankees? FLO dropped their 8th straight at PIT. FLO is hard to handicap because they have been horribly inconsistent on run production. We have Moehler and FLO by 1/2 run for today's match-up.

Underdogs for the day are TEX based on their 7 RBI production over the last 20 games. CLE is a little better than MIN in everything but bullpen. We're looking for Lee to continue his recent good trend. CIN is overmatched on pitching and needs HOU's bats to stay quiet to pull it off. May be a longshot.

Game Picks for May 31


The best pitcher match-up of the day is Obermueller v. Peavy and even that is a bit lopsided as Peavy is the best starter on the board with a pitcher rating of 187 and a Game ERA of 2.18. San Diego has dominated the NL West over the last 20 games with a .750 winning percentage.

Hampton v. Patterson may be the most entertaining game of the day. ATL and WAS are three games apart in the loss column and running dead-even 9-11 over the last 20 in the tightest division in baseball.

Best Underdog possiblities are BAL, ANA, TBA, CHN, and CIN. The spreadsheet has them all on top.

Game Picks for May 30


The Orioles may not be exactly the same team that sprinted ahead of the Beasts of the East but they’re still packing some crash. Sal Fasano is carrying his own weight, and then some. Rafy stepped it up big time and just at the right time. The pitching, however, has not been able to adapt as quickly and maybe the O’s are starting to follow the script that many pundits laid out for them in March. Rodrigo Lopez is probably more responsible for keeping the Division just out of reach of the Red Sox than anybody not wearing Boston’s laundry. Steinbrenner should have paid him a bonus the last couple years. But that was then. Red Sox bats are heating up and looking forward to beating up on Lopez to get some payback. Bronson Arroyo gets another win at Fenway.

Don’t really know what to make of the spreadsheet’s take on TBA @ OAK. The books have it as a pick-em and the sheet is calling for a mail in with Blanton not getting to the 4th inning.

The sheet is also looking for Harang to best Clemens at Houston. Can’t call the silicon emotional for this one.

Game Picks for May 29


Gamedays take on different persona. Yesterday the face was several first-time pitchers, or pitchers coming back from long layoffs. Today we have a batch of obvious and maybe not so obvious Aces on the mound. Leading the pack is Mike Mussina. For his last four starts Mussina is sporting a Base Pitcher Value of 225 with a game ERA of 2.29. Other not so obvious four-game aces are Jake Westbrook, Sergio Mitre and Chris Capuano. The Sunday night game of the week, of course, is the Red Sox - Yankees match up. Mussina V. Wells. The Boomer has only two starts in the last 20 games, and his underdog status is fairly deserved. Wells' game ERA is 5.69 and is BPV is negative. His Powder Keg value is a big 3, which means that when Wells takes the mound the Big Inning fuse is already lit. From that point it's only a question of whether he throws enough pitches to blow up.

Powder Keg rating is shown in the column heading "SP ***" on the spreadsheet. It's calculated by taking each starting pitchers' FIP and dividing it by the MLB average FIP for the last 20 games. FIP is the acronym for Fielding Independent Pitching, a metric developed by tangotiger as an easy-to-use stand in for the notoriously complicated DIPS (Defense Independent Pitching). The formula is (13*HR + 3*BB - 2*K) / IP. Carl Pavano's Powder Keg rating was 2 for yesterday's start and we saw what happened to him. The rating is not used in any calculations but it's nice to know.

One match-up with particularly high fireworks potential is LAD @ ARI. That game features not one but two Powder Kegs with horrible pitcher values and above average hitting teams to boot. We almost always avoid the over/under but if the weather conditions in Arizona are favorable this could be the exception.

Red Sox 17 Yankees 1


As handicappers we can draw a couple lessons from the Red Sox demolishment of the Bombers at Yankee Stadium. One is that today's performance will not affect our handicapping of the Boston - New York match-up for tomorrow, except as individual component stats may change. Maybe it's more a sanity self-defense mechanism than anything, how would you account for it, but we have not found any credible evidence that a whupping in one game leads automatically to a whupping in the next where the opponents are fairly matched. Maybe the opposite is even true. Games 3/4 of the 2004 ALCS.

One intended future article that may jump to the top of the list is a review of the available research on streaks and slumps. One reason we did not go with the Red Sox is their recent hitting malaise. Can their beginning or end be succesfully forecast? How quickly can you determine when a team may be in one?

Disappointed that we didn't go with Clement and take the Red Sox as underdogs in this one? You bet.

Game picks for May 28


The Red Sox are sliding and the Yankees have traction. Clement has been a better pitcher than Pavano so far this year, and it shows in his Base Pitcher Value (BPV) rating of ace level 109. Pavano has slipped under the Mendoza line for this metric, which is 50. Seems like a good game to reverse the trend. I'd dearly love to go with Boston on this one but the Sox powderkeg bullpen and noodle bats take away the advantage of Clement's superiority. I call it a pick-em.

Javier Vazquez is off the charts for his last 4 starts. 0 BB, 27 K and 0 HR. That's total domination, which is suprprising if only because Vazquez had shown a tendency in his earlier starts to give up the Big Inning. The Dodgers are starting a newbie, D. Thompson, with no stats. We go with Vazquez and hope the Arizona bullpen shows him a little love late in the game.

We like Tampa Bay with Casey Fossum. The Rays are bottom feeders on team ERA but Fossum's last 2 starts make him the exception. His game ERA is under 4.00 and he's raised his BPV to just under ace level. Seattle's Aaron Sele is favored by the sportsbook but our outlook is for Fossum to hold down the Mariners long enough for Carl Crawford and his teamies to work a lead over Sele that can stand up. We show TBA by 1 1/2 runs.

Joe Aace starts 3 today. He's our universal league average pitcher who stands in when the database comes up empty. Baltimore is starting B. Henn against Detroit's Jason Johnson. JJ's game ERA is a meritorious 3.99 and it should have been enough to carry the day, but even with Baltimore's bats way off season levels Detroit's hitters are even flatter. We have it as Baltimore by 1/2 run but this one is for entertainment only.

It's an Irresitible Force


Professional baseball has been part of the American fabric for about 130 years. That means that even before the 2,400 or so games of the 2005 season are completed that about a gazllion professional baseball games have preceded them. For every single one of those games, no doubt, before the first pitch was thrown somebody has had an opinion about the outcome. Maybe even a few dollars changed hands.

Handicapping sounds more knowledgeable than just having an opinion about the outcome so those of us who take this more seriously than others call ourselves handicappers. We do have our own handicapping method, which we believe works fairly well, thank you, and we'll look at that and some other ways that people try to jump into the future. It's fun. We enjoy doing it. We hope to impart a little useful information along the way.