Joe Duffy (www.OffshoreInsiders.com)
A few years back we wrote an article on the importance of
evaluating how teams hit left-handed and right-handed pitchers. In summary, we surmised it was important, yet
keeping in perspective, we demonstrated how the numbers can be greatly affected
by random chance. Hence we warned about
becoming too dependant on deceptive statistics that are so often fools gold.
We have very similar thoughts about comparing ballpark
statistics. There are some stadiums that could be classified as “pitchers’
ballparks” while others could reasonably be labeled more friendly to hitters.
Yet again, we have to give props to the four-letter evil
empire ESPN. In their fantasy baseball
section, they have a straight-forward “Park Factor” that compares that rate of
stats at home versus the rate of stats on the road. A rate that is higher than
1.000 favors the hitter, with lower than 1.000
favoring the pitcher.
Still, statistical reliability would assume the quality of
the opponent has been equal at home and on the road. Random chance indicates some teams will face
or use a disproportionate number of aces and No. 2 starters in one location.
This deviation is just one example.
Then there is wind direction. Perhaps several teams have had the wind blowing
in straight from center a higher percentage while other squads has an
overbalanced number blowing out to leftfield.
Why, according the ESPN Ballpark Factor, is
the top hitters’ park this year, but was 13th last season?
As of this writing, Rogers Centre in Toronto is the second
best pitchers park, yet last year it was a hitters paradise ranking 7th
in hitting (24th pitching).
orchard after finishing first each of the previous three years and third in
So how do the elite gamblers use the stats? To measure the
reliability of pitchers’ splits is how we employ them. For example, virtually every Padre is going
to have statistically better stats at home than on the road, so there is no
angle in the fact Chris Young, Greg Maddux, and David Wells for example do.
Yet Jake Peavy is actually a
better pitcher on the road than at home.
This is an advantage for the gambler. A pitcher’s splits are most
effective when measured against the ballpark stats.
Is there an edge for the over/under better? Often
short-term, but rarely is the edge long-term as the sportsbooks adjust. As of June 19, the Padres last eight road
games and 11-of-12 has seen a posted total of 8.0 or higher.
Yet 15 of their last 18 home games have seen a total of 7.5
or lower. Thinking somehow the sportsbooks are oblivious to such angles is one
way for a gambler to subsidize bookmakers.
The Park Factor statistic is a valuable handicapping
weapon, but more for statistical validation. Those who think they’ve found the
Holy Grail with stadium comparisons are not in the same ballpark as the