Capping Recent Trends: A short reason for why long term trends are faulty.

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Capping Recent Trends: A short reason for why long term trends are faulty.

Long-Term Tends Can Be Dangerous

Can you rely on a trend like this?

Pitcher X  is 31-12 VS The Phillies

The answer is NO.

That trend may be built on several surgeries, numerous weather conditions, multiple teams, hundreds of different supporting batters, hundreds of opposing hitters, numerous coaching changes, hundreds of "mechanical" adjustments, aging bones, an altered center of gravity, a complete change in pitching style (in cases), different RULES, different teams, different drugs, different wives, you name it.

A 31-12 record between a pitcher and an opposing team means that most of the players on the opposing team are probably either retired or playing somewhere else. So the initial numbers are not even related to the current numbers.

We could go on forever with this simple explanation, but you can extrapolate this reasoning to include any major trends that encompass more than 7 years in the data. In that  7 year span you have strike zones changing, bat and ball types changing, performance enhancers reaching their rise and zenith during this time, the invention of Quest-Tec, New Stadiums and hundreds of other infusions and retractions in the game of baseball.

I've found that posting long-term trends is like putting lipstick on a pig. Some cappers use these long-term trends to illuminate a play with very little reasoning. It's like making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Long term trends are based, largely, on dead material. You should consider them nothing more than statistical "noise". I can assure you that most serious handicappers look harder at near term trends, and you should consider doing the same.

An example

Maybe we can use Brett Tomko as an example today: You can read more about our impressions of him today in our Top King Maker Play for Memorial Day. It's sitting in the Forum right now.

Tomko is listed as a hard thrower with a stong change-up and a curve that can be used as an "out pitch", but that opinion was forged on Tomko as a reliever. So the concept that he can throw a sharp "Change" and a strong curve is, at least, a year old.

If you read the scouting reports ffrom the beginning of the season, you would see that they think he's a 10 game winner at a mnimum.

But the fact of the matter is that this assumtion does not take into affect that Tomko can be wildly innacurate, and if he loses faith in his Change-up, then he relies almost exclusively on his fastball offerings. I look for Tomko's recent trends when I cap him, because he loses rhythm quickly, and you can see it in the stats.

When he abandons his change-up his ground ball rate drops, and the hits start piling up, because he's resorting to the fastball almost exclusively when he loses faith.

We can see this loss of faith in the general stats: Here are his last 10 starts. Notice, at the bottom, where he had a 2.08 ERA after 4 games! This is a Tomko that is using his 3 tools! But watch that ERA begin to shatter and bloat as the season rolls on:

10 Start Log
5/21 @BOS L 3-6 4.1 7 5 5 2 1 2 7 6 19 91 L(2-5) -- 5.76
5/16 @FLA W 7-6 6.0 5 2 2 1 1 4 8 11 25 78 W(2-4) -- 5.32
5/10 BAL L 5-6 5.1 9 6 6 1 0 8 6 5 25 110 L(1-4) -- 5.67
5/5 LAA L 0-4 7.0 2 0 0 0 2 7 5 9 24 96 -- -- 4.98
4/29 @TEX W 9-5 3.1 7 5 5 0 3 3 4 5 20 89 -- -- 6.26
4/24 CLE L 6-9 4.0 11 7 6 0 2 2 11 1 25 109 L(1-3) -- 5.25
4/17 @LAA L 3-5 7.0 6 5 5 0 1 3 15 6 29 100 L(1-2) -- 3.60
4/12 MIN L 0-2 6.0 6 2 2 1 1 1 16 6 26 92 L(1-1) -- 2.08
4/6 @MIN W 3-1 5.0 6 0 0 0 1 3 5 7 19 92 W(1-0) -- 1.29
3/31 @DET W 5-4 2.0 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 1 7 32 -- BlSv 4.50


*Do you see in the GREEN STATS, where he's rolling along with dominant performances, and the Ground Ball Rate is Huge! This is where he's hitting the "Change" on left handers, and he's working the ball all over the place with speed and great location.

But then something changes!

Suddenly, he runs into LEFT-HANDED Batting orders in Texas and Baltimore, then faces deadly Boston. His confidence gets destroyed in that period, and most of it seems to indicate that the Change-up has lost it's velocity. without the Change, Tomko becomes a reliever in a starter's position. Batters begin to sit on the fastballs, and lefties can now smash the change-up. Remember, if a Change-up loses it's pop, then it becomes a meatball.

Please note that the pitch counts ROSE as the Ground Ball/ Fly Ball rate fell. This is where we focus on the RECENT TREND!


This is how you should look at a pitcher. You have to focus on the last 10 games more than the last 10 years. A pitcher will lose a pitch within 3 games, so a guy like Verlander, Tomko, Beckett, Burnette, or anyone really, is a creature of current situations.


This is not to say that long term trends should be abandoned, but be careful of any analysis that ONLY uses long term trends for the basis of their motivation.


You have nothing, if you have a 10 year trend.


This is just a King Maker Opinion.


Have a great day!





  • Short term trends are the only ones that can take into affect the pitcher's recent tendencies, mechanical issues, and even slumps.  Longer term trends may have some value as far as a pitcher pitching in certain ballparks, but anything more than a year is useless as far as a pitcher facing certain lineups.  But if you take long term trends away, how could all these high paid, losing cappers stay in business??  They need some justification to their picks, lol

  • Short-term trends are my main reference in handicapping MLB, and I couldn't agree with you more - great work man!

  • Congrats. Personally, I try and avoid trends. With enough variables you can turn a 0-10 trend into a 10-0. A few years back I was readin various football preview mags. Two different magazines had 9-0 ATS trends on this one game. The problem was they were for different sides!

  • It's nice to see that Tomko performed up to spec!

    7-2 Winner for us!