Baseball has changed a lot in the last 30 years thanks to “sabermetrics.”
The term was coined by Bill James, one of the most prominent sabermetricians in baseball history who helped revolutionize the way baseball players are judged and compared against one another.
SABR was founded in 1971 by the sportswriter, Bob Davids.
The society is dedicated to research the history of baseball and present that research to the general public.
While the community’s name became a symbol of advanced statistics, the members of SABR perform many other functions, including compiling biographical information of former players.
While there are many types of baseball betting mistakes, one of the most common mistakes people make when handicapping baseball is picking a team to win using outdated statistics or information.
While it’s tempting and comforting to rely on the statistics you’ve always used, you’ll be left in the dust as a bettor if you only rely on outdated information like pitcher wins or RBI’s.
There are many other mistakes that bettors make when betting on the KBO or MLB, but learning about advanced statistics can give you a significant head start to making more accurate wagers.
1- Using Old Offensive Statistics
The first side of advanced statistics we’ll discuss is offensive statistics.
Many baseball fans are familiar with the statistics that are reported in the newspaper sports section.
These stats may be fun to look at and give historical context for many players, but if they’re all you’re using to make baseball bets, you’ll have no chance to beat the odds and make value bets.
A value bet is made when you assess the odds of a game differently than the sportsbooks.
Obviously, predicting the future is impossible, so you can’t ever guarantee the success of a bet (unless the game is fixed), but the more information you have at your disposal, the closer you can get to making a value bet.
Prop bets sometimes involve hits, and batting average is a great statistic to use for those bets. Example:
- Over 2.5 hits+home runs before the 5th inning (-130)
- Under (2.5) hits+hrs before 5th inning +110
Here, you can bet on whether or not Anderson will record a sum of 3 hits or home runs before the 5th inning.
Last year, Anderson had a stellar .335 batting average and also had decent pop, hitting 18 home runs. If he can hit 1 home run and 1 other base hit, or 3 hits, by the fifth inning, the bet will payout.
While there are better stats to use in this bet, like batting average on balls in play, batting average is a decent alternative in this example.
Anderson hit well in 2019, and hits are one of the components in this prop bet.
While a traditional statistic like batting average was useful in this particular prop bet, most of the time it’s greatly inferior to advanced metrics.
Tim Anderson, despite his great .335 batting average in 2019, only accrued 3.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for the White Sox.
While he plays shortstop, a valuable defensive position, he’s a poor fielder, recording -12 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at the position.
- He also had an average on-base percentage, in spite of his great batting average.
- He was a slightly above average offensive player but a poor shortstop for the year.
He helped the White Sox to be sure, but not as much as his great batting average would lead traditionalists to expect.
While his batting average was admittedly low, he actually brought a similar amount of value to his team offensively as Tim Anderson did.
His OPS was .848 while Anderson’s was .865. Anderson slightly edged Chapman out in OBP, but the A’s 3rd baseman had a higher slugging percentage than the shortstop.
Additionally, Chapman is one of the best fielders in the league at 3rd base. He accrued 34 DRS in 2019, boosting his overall value to the club.
While Anderson provided a decent 3.7 WAR to his team, Chapman outplayed him significantly by the advanced metric. The Athletic provided 8.3 WAR over the season and was almost 3 times as valuable to his team as Anderson was.
Chapman improves the A’s chances of winning much more than Anderson does for the Whitesox. This is one example of how a traditional stat like batting average can paint a deceptive picture of a player’s value.
Bettors who focus on WAR will have the edge over people who only look at stats like batting average, doubles, or RBIs in moneyline, run line, or totals bets, thanks to WAR analyzing the sum total of a player’s production on the field.
2- Using Old Pitching Statistics
Like hitting statistics, pitching statistics have just as many flawed metrics.
Stats like wins, losses, and ERA are deceitful and can make a player appear better or worse than they actually are.
Now, pitchers pitch far fewer innings and rarely record 20 wins in a season like they used to.
Either way, a stat like wins can make a mediocre pitcher appear great or make a standout pitcher appear like a slouch, and do you no good when you’re trying to make a value bet on the MLB or KBO.
Domingo German, pitcher for the New York Yankees had a standout 2019 by traditional stats.
While he only pitched 143 innings, he was able to accrue 18 wins, in addition to 4 losses.
Many feel like the Yankees games he starts represent a great moneyline betting opportunity thanks to his win-loss record.
Despite the win-loss record, he recorded a 4.03 ERA.
His ERA+ was 110, meaning he was 10% better than the league average ERA in the American League.
He also only accrued 2.1 WAR over the season, meaning he was 2 wins better than the average pitcher.
German looks like a terrific pitcher if you only look at the win-loss record for the season. If you dig a little deeper though and consider his ERA and innings pitched, you’ll see he was more mediocre than the wins indicate.
Jacob deGrom, on the other hand, had a fantastic season by advanced metrics in 2019.
He pitched 204 innings of 2.43 ERA baseball. He was 67% better than league average and ended the season with 7.6 WAR.
Jacob deGrom was almost 4 times as valuable as German was, but only picked up 11 wins on the season. He went 11-8, because Met’s hitters often went cold when he was starting, providing no run support.
Pitchers shouldn’t be punished for how many runs their teams score or don’t score. If you want to make smart bets, you’ll ignore stats like wins or losses and focus on ERA+ or WAR.
3- Picking Popular Teams
Teams like the KBO’s Doosan Bears and the MLB’s Red Sox are always popular picks for moneyline bets.
Knowing this, sportsbooks, MLB betting sites, or other bookmakers will adjust the odds against those teams.
Bookies know lots of people will bet on the popular teams, so they don’t need to provide good odds on them.
However, teams like the Rays or Rangers rarely receive as much action, so sportsbooks will usually offer better lines on their games.
Teams like the Rays are often competitive, but overlooked by many bettors, making them a great target for a value bet.
4- Parlay Bets
Parlay bets are another common pitfall baseball bettors face.
Parlay bets seem great at first glance.
The downside though, is that so many things have to go right for you to win a parlay bet.
The more teams you include in a parlay bet, the more astronomical the odds become that every team will win.
The chances of the Yankees, Cubs, and Reds all winning on the same night are extremely low.
Small bets can add up quickly and deplete your bankroll, so you’ll want to heavily investigate statistics before making any parlay bets.
Disagree with these tips? Do you prefer older or newer stats? Let us know in the comments.