In handicapping the MLB action last week, it occurred to me…there are a lot more games with posted totals of less than 7 runs nowadays than I’ve ever picked up on before. If you’ve been active this baseball season, you know that scoring is down overall, but is the frequency of the real low totaled games in proportion, or an overreaction by oddsmakers? Either way, are there any specific trends or betting systems that we can take advantage of when analyzing these games? Let’s take a look. Odds
To start off with, I’m pleased to say that my hunch was correct…AND HOW! So far this season, in games played through Monday, August 2nd, there have been 65 such games with totals posted at 6 or 6.5. Over the course of the prior five seasons combined, there were only 57 games meeting that low total criteria. I would categorize this as an unusual phenomena. Scores
So why are the totals so low? To me, the answer is several-fold. For one,as mentioned before, scoring and home run hitting are down all across baseball. Also, right now, there are 11 different regular starting pitchers that boast a WHIP of 1.100 or less. Last season there were only seven, and in 2008, there were just five. In other words, there are a lot more “aces” around this season to slow opposing lineups. Thirdly, the Padres pitching staff has been dominant in itself, and this year’s list of 65 games with totals of 7 or less includes 25 games at Petco park, home of the Padres. Finally, I believe bettors have forced the hand of oddsmakers to drop their totals more often than they have wanted to. In fact, in 22 of the 65 games, the posted opening total was 7 runs or higher, and dropped below that threshold only after bettors forced oddsmakers to make a bold move downward.
So, now that we have an understanding of how many games are meeting our low total criteria, is there anything specific we can lean on to gain an advantage against the oddsmakers when it comes to betting these totals? Take a look at some of these trends/systems:
Of the 57 games between 2005-2009 with closing totals of 6 or 6.5, 29 went UNDER and 28 went OVER.
Of the 65 games this season with totals of less than 7 runs, 36 have gone OVER the total, while 27 have gone UNDER, with two pushes. That means the OVER has won at a rate of 57% on hese games in 2010.
The average score of these low totaled games in 2010 has been HOME TEAM 4.1, ROAD TEAM 3.4, with the 7.5 combined runs surpassing the average posted number by more than one run per game.
Interleague play was a boon for bettors playing the OVER, as that side of these low totaled games converted on 10 of 13 opportunities, for 77%.
Of the 51 remaining games qualifying this season that were not Interleague, only six were American League games. The results on those were split, three OVER’s, three UNDER’s. The N.L. games were 23 OVER’s, 21 UNDER’s, one push.
Of the 65 games in 2010 with closing totals of less than 7 runs, 15 were day games and the results were six OVER’s, seven UNDER’s, two pushes. Thus, on night games, the OVER’s were much more prevalent, with a record of 30-20, for 60%.
Interestingly, in the five seasons prior to 2010, not one of our low totaled games have come during the playoffs, when pitching is supposedly at its best. Las Vegas Odds
In terms of ballparks, here are the total records in 2010, noted Over-Under-Push (Over %)
ANGEL STADIUM OF ANAHEIM (Angels): 0-1-0 (0%)
AT&T PARK (Giants): 3-6-0 (33%)
BUSCH STADIUM (Cardinals): 1-0-0 (100%)
CITI FIELD (NY Mets): 1-1-0 (50%)
CITIZENS BANK PARK (Phillies): 0-1-0 (0%)
DODGER STADIUM (Dodgers): 4-2-0 (67%)
MINUTE MAID PARK (Astros): 2-2-0 (50%)
NATIONALS PARK (Nationals): 2-0-0 (100%)
PETCO PARK (Padres): 16-7-2 (70%)
SAFECO FIELD (Mariners): 4-3-0 (57%)
SUN LIFE STADIUM (Marlins): 0-1-0 (0%)
TROPICANA FIELD (Rays): 0-1-0 (0%)
TURNER FIELD (Braves): 0-2-0 (0%)
U.S. CELLULAR FIELD (White Sox): 1-0-0 (100%)
WRIGLEY FIELD (Cubs): 2-0-0 (100%)
Of course, the most interesting trend on that list finds 70% of games at Petco Park with totals of less than 7 runs going OVER. It seems you can’t discount the fact that San Diego is still a first place team and capable of scoring runs itself. In fact, in those 25 games, the Padres averaged 4.9 runs per game themselves. Furthermore, in the games the Padres played on the road with totals of 6 or 6.5, they are 2-1 OVER. One of the things to watch for moving forward is whether or not the frequency of San Diego games meeting our low total criteria declines, since the additions of Ryan Ludwick & Miguel Tejada to the Padres’ lineup should result in increased run production.
The bottom line of all the analysis is this: Don’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to low totaled games. The pitching may look dominant, or the ball park imposing on the hitters, but seven runs is not a heck of a lot to generate in a baseball game. In fact, when you consider that both teams just have to produce three runs each to force these games over (since their can’t be a 3-3 tie), the chances for OVER’s are even greater. Like anything else, oddsmakers are counting on bettors to side with the more common information, and in most cases, all signs are pointing to low scoring games. Naturally, that’s when the opposite occurs, and bookmakers rake in the profits.