Now that the NHL has concluded, and the NBA is capable of providing only 7 more games for us to wager on...I thought I would continue my series on handicapping MLB. Until this past year, I never really had the opportunity to discuss various handicapping techniques with your average sports bettor. And the sharps these days aren't willing to reveal any new methods that they apply since it is getting more and more difficult to find an edge over the books now that the lines are almost exact across the board and bookmakers just don't have the courage that they used to....or possibly even the "go ahead" from the suits to be aggressive with their lines. So I thought that over these next 2 months, I would try and pass along to you, many of the "secrets" which the syndicates have used to handicapp MLB...and how they determine value.
Today, I want to focus on "Home Field Advantage" and how to accurately account for it when you create your own number to compare to what is being offered. As far as creating a number is concerned, we all have our own way of doing it and I really believe that its the ability to do this which seperates one handicapper from another. It wasn't until I got the chance to speak with more and more up and coming handicappers that I realized that many have never even been taught or explained that when it comes to handicapping a game, for any sport...the NUMBER ONE step for success is how sharp a capper is at creating that number...so I want to try and help with that by showing how to factor in "ome Field Edge", and I believe that my next Blog Post should be on the "most important thing a capper must do to be successful"...
But first, lets break down how I account for this edge....we all pretty much know that the standard for football is to give the home team "3 Points" for being at home...so if 2 equal teams were facing one and other based on your power ratings, then the home team would be -3. For many, thats as far as it goes, but for a real pro...its only the beginning. I say that because a serious capper needs to think at various levels if they plan on beating this market...and giving the Patriots 3 points for being home and giving the Dolphins those same 3 points if they were, is just not going to beat the oddsmakers. In football, 3 must be your starting point and in basketball I have been taught to begin at 4 and go all the way to 6, and possibly down to 2.
So back to football...when you look at the Patriots/Dolphins comparison, giving both teams 3 points for being home just don't seem to be correct. The reasons for that are obvious, but still too many of today's up and coming cappers, who I hope will be tomorrow's sharps and syndicates...are willing to accept whatever that have been told early on in their careers and have just assumed it was correct. But obviously from the comparison above, we see that nothing could be further from the truth. And this is another one of those "Bettor Misconceptions" that I have written about in the past.
Home Field is so important to handicapping that not accounting for it correctly, will make finding "true" value impossible. So how important is it in MLB. We know how important it is in football where 58% of the home teams win their games, and its even more important in the NBA, where 60% of home teams get it done, and the most important...which helped me take the Redwings to win the series...is in the NHL, where home teams win 63% of their games. Now that we know the percentages, how do we factor it into our capping in MLB ??
For myself, it was explained to me that first off we must understand what home-field advantage actually is. When we try to account for a team's strength at home, we need to first look at how they do on the road. Now that may sound strange, but when you think about it...it actually makes perfect sense. Its not possible to determine what kind of home edge a team has if we don't compare how it fairs at home compared to on the road. That is exactly what home-field edge actually is. Its the difference between how well a team plays at home, than it does on the road. Bill James, who has done so much to revolutionize the way we capp MLB, put it simply, "an undefeated team has no home field edge". Now again, that may sound strange, but really think about that statement and you will see how clear it actually is. If a team is 8-0 at home and 8-0 on the road...how do you determine what advantage playing at home really gives this team ???
In MLB, I stated that the home team wins about 58% of the time, so it may not be a very huge edge overall...but thats where the handicapper needs to be able to take each team individually, and really look at their home and away record and try to accurately create a monetary edge. I was taught to begin by giving teams who win 53%-55%, 15 cents....a team who wins 56%-58%, 16 cents....a team who wins 59%-61%, 17 cents....and any team who wins 62% or more of their home games, 18 cents to 20 cents if it exceeds 65%, which is extremely rare over the course of 80 games.
So now you have a foundation, or a starting point to create your number before you being to account for everything else and give that also a monetary value...such as the pitching (starter/ all 3 pens), the offensive and defensive strength (power-rating), and of course the splits involved with each, because in today's MLB we have to also account for Platooning which has become so vital. You are now able to put that number you created to the side, and really get to work, so that when you are finished...you can now make your final home field adjustment and decide if the line is offering you value.
That was just one of the many steps that today's handicapper must be able to deal with if he plans on beating today's oddsmaker because they have also become much sharper. But the one advantage that the handicapper will always have over the oddsmaker, is that the oddsmaker needs to protect his client, the sportsbook...and to do that, many times they are forced to put out a line which is based heavily on public perception, and lightly on actual facts and stats...and your ability to createa strong number will make those instances jump out off the board and scream opportunity.
Of course, after we are finished with the numbers part of it, which deals with strictly facts and stats as I call them...then the handicapper must be able to add his reasoning into the mix...and based on experience and the correct level of thinking applied, he should be armed with the ability to pick more winners than losers by knowing he is getting the best of it more times than not...and with proper money management, he is now a dangerous liability to any bookmaker.
I know that I got very far ahead of myself, since my main objective of this piece was to get across the way that I have been taught to apply home field advantage...but I really wanted to also show you how it all ties in. When you have a match-up, you need to look at it like one huge jig-saw puzzle...and the more pieces that you are able to accurately put back together...the easier it becomes to see what the final result will be, even before it is completed...which in the end, is exactly what prognosticating a sporting event actually is.
I will continue to try and pass along thoughts and experiences, as well as many of the methods that I apply when capping...so please feel free to bring up possible topics and also add your own thoughts about what I write because that is the best way that I can also learn from you all..and possibly improve my own handicapping skills...so tell me, how have you been taught to apply home field edge, and how strongly of a role does it play in your decision making process ??? Thanks again for all your support and best of luck, Vegas-Runner...
Here's another I found in the archives....I'm really glad I wrote these in Blog form so I can go back and read them myself each spring...Best of Luck, VR
Thanks guys, it really makes a lot of sense, as a guy like Piniella needs a couple years to get his kind of guys in there and then figure out what works best at Wrigley. Fukudome has proven to be the perfect example of this, hitting .377 at home and .219 on the road. You won't find a much bigger differential.
I agree Matty. Colorado, when their sluggers are healthy, can be awesome at home in their thin air when it gets warmer.
I was listening to some sports talk show here and they had a gm from one of mlb teams on the radio and he was saying that teams today really try to build there teams to succeed at home.I did not catch the whole thing only part of it,But I think you make a great point here.
It's not exactly rocket science, but those teams that play exceptional at home adapt their style of play to their home field. For example, in years past the Cubs used to live and die by the homer and win or lose depending on whether or not the wind was blowing in or out. That's not the case this year, as Lou Piniella has made sure he has the right type of players who can take advantage of what Wrigley Field has to offer. The same can be said about the Red Sox. They built that team to succeed at Fenway, and the results certainly back it up.
loon, I agree with you 100% and have always tried to look for those situations. I believe that you have to be following the team though and also really try and locate some information that will support your reasoning...
I remember maybe a few weeks back that very opportunity had come up and the team I was looking to back were the Mets...and if you remember, they were having all types of problems and drama with their manager and players...well, I saw in the NY Post an article where one of the players spoke about how they got together and had a meeting between the players and they felt that their lack of energy and focus almost got their manager fired...so for me, I knew that this team was motivated to turn it around, and more importantly they were getting a chance to leave NY and avoid all the bad press and other distractions they would face by playing at home...
Well, needless to say, they got the job done for me...
I always make sure that I give the proper due to a team for being home, but at the same time...we know that the average MLB team only wins 54% of their home games...so when betting bases, you have to have the courage to back road teams as well...]
Thanks again and best of luck, VR
Is there value occasionally on a team thats doing poorly hitting the road? Why? Because they don"t have to hear bad press, disgruntled fans, and unwanted outside advice. Seems I've found value, but one has to be very picky.
Roc...that is the kind of stuff that I love to hear and also makes me really try and think of the things that I was taught through the years by guys who were much sharper than myself, so that I can pass them along also, to guys like yourself who are really focused and passionate about becoming a much stronger capper...
Its funny how most people have no idea just how much work it really involves to seperate a guess from a capped game...and you touched upon something that I will be writing a Blog about really soon which I have always felt it the most vital part of a winning cappers day...when we create our numbers to compare....
The way you explained the Angels game was very impressive because I really liked the level of reasoning that you are capable of thinking at...and I think that you have a very good understanding of what value really means...
As time goes by and you become more proficient in creating an opening line on ML match-ups, because that is something that we should all strive for as successful cappers, you will see that your interpretation of value should eventually, with the right equation...allow you to put a win% for each match-up that you will be able to compare you numbers with...and let me tell you, it took me over 5yrs before I could confidently say that my numbers were based more on facts , rather than opinions and guesses...
But when you do...and you look at a game like Malholm last night at -119, which you will need to WIN at a rate of 55% to turn a profit...you will be able to look at your own numbers and if they show that he had a 58% chance of Cashing...then you can feel confident that you are getting the best of it...
These are the things that I love about Pregame...there are so many intelligent cappers to speak with and learn from....thanks again and best of luck, VR
I meant to add on the pirates tonite its Malhom at -119.Not as much value as last nite when you take in all other factors.
Keep up the posts.I have really been working on my plays from a value standpoint after reading your response to my question about finding value at -200.I understand about incorpating the pitching,matchups,home away,and after all this trying to find value on the lines.
A couple of examples for you to see if I am on the right track here.
tues you had angels saunders +123 vs a poor seattle team.I unloaded on this play because I htought that value here with all other factors considered was enourmus on the angels.Last nite with Weaver on the mound I think the angels were -110 -120.Yes the angels won but to me it was not a near value as the nite before.
Last nite you could get duke and the pirates +108 vs a stuggling oswalt and the astros who have cooled off at the plate.Duke i think is one of the better starters in pirate rotation.
I have been making my own lines before I look at the booklines.I had the angels game as pickem and the pirates at -105 last nite.So when i see a differnce I than must decide if and how much to move.I can give more examples but I am sure you get the idea.
I do my due dillengence to handicap the games.I tend to look at pitching,bullpens more than the hitting.I think it was jimmy leyland who said momentum all depends on tomorrows starting pitcher.I start there than work my way out.Sometimes though i do make a few gut plays and last nite I had the padres at only +109 some would say it was not enough value but i did have some numbers that told me it was going to be a close game.
Keep up the posting I love info,Thanks VR