New Stats Coming to the Forefront in Baseball Handicapping

Joe Duffy (

The hottest statistic
among baseball handicappers utilized in evaluating offenses
is on base
percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS). This is not a new statistic among
sharpies, and in fact was overlooked for a few decades by baseball itself. I
first heard about it in the mid-1970s when Steven Mann, a statistician for the
Houston Astros, was touting said numerator on a radio sports talk show I was
listening to. I employed and tested this statistic to capture a few
Strat-o-Matic championships in my formative years. Who says youth is wasted on
the young?

I’ve always put forth that the proper Triple Crown in
baseball should be on base percentage, slugging average and runs produced. In that vain, the streamlined stat of OPS is
finally being noticed by the masses.

In fact, the growingly more sophisticated gaming public is
finally paying additional attention to offensive statistics. This is bad news for the books because Johnny
Q. Public used to throw his money away simply betting little more than just
starting pitcher’s ERA statistics with an extra emphasis on a hurler’s last
three starts.

According to Cy McCormick of,
the online sports betting syndicate, the hot gauge now for pitchers is
comparing his batting average against (OAV) overall against to his OAV with
balls in play.

Many of the cutting edge handicappers they monitor take the
two quoted stats and compare it to the league average to find disparities. “The thought is if a pitcher’s overall
batting average against ranks much higher than his batting average against with
balls in play, he is pitching better than his stats because the fielders behind
him are not playing as well as they should be.”

Of course if a pitcher does better relative to the rest of
the league with balls in play than he does overall, the supposition among the
avant-garde gamblers is that the pitcher has benefited from good fortune. Hence
rough days lay ahead for the hurler.

McCormick says the top services parse the information to
their exact liking in their own private databases, but that Yahoo! Sports
( does the best job of any free public site comparing and
contrasting that day’s pitchers’ stats to both the league average and league

If there is one consideration that has seen some
depreciation in value recently, it’s the ground ball to fly ball ratio (GB:FB). Ground ball pitchers will always be more affective
than fly ball pitchers, but the statistic is no longer the silver bullet data
all but guaranteeing impending doom.

“First it was supposed to be
juiced balls then we realized it was juiced players,” says Jerry Malcolm of “Regardless, a fly ball is not nearly as
poisonous now that the power numbers are stabilizing.”

As in any sport, the elite gamblers look beyond mere
numbers-crunchers. An uber-popular book and arguably the Bible for scrutinizing
and exploiting baseball statistics is “Moneyball: the Art of Winning an Unfair
Game” by Michael Lewis. Oh how true that title is for the gambler who masters
the mathematical art.

Joe Duffy during his Cadillac Club scorephone days developed
the reputation as the top baseball underdog handicapper in the business. His plays are now exclusive on

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