How to Handicap Baseball – Part 2

How to Handicap Baseball - Part 2 of 3
by Staff

Next we move on to discuss ERA which stands for Earned Run Average. An ERA is nothing more than an average of how how many earned runs (runs scored against the pitcher not including runs scored involving errors) a pitcher gives up based on every 9 innings he pitches.

A good era is 3.00 or below. An average ERA may range from the mid 3’s to low 4’s. An E.R.A. of 5 or above usually means a guy gets hit hard and/or has control issues. Your almost sure to find a high WHIP with a pitcher with a high ERA as well UNLESS the pitcher is giving up a ton of gopher balls.

Before we end our banter about ERA, we’d like to note that it is often portrayed as an overrated stat. Some pitchers with high ERA’s still have a good amount of wins because their teams give them good run support or they pitch in a park where there tends to be more runs scored such as Coors Field where the ball carries better than say the Padres home field where the fences are pushed way back.

Next and one of our favorites is hitter vs. pitcher. This is a rock solid stat that to our disbelief, very few handicappers use..In order to utilize this stat, you will need to find a website that offers this information. offers these stats and their FREE! Once you’ve found this info, look at how the whole team’s individual players have faired vs. the pitcher over the course of their respective careers. You will be very surprised to see that some hitters absolutely wear a pitcher out. Finding that type of info is GREAT supporting info. to help you make or decide not to make a play. Furthermore, it’s even better when you can find a whole lineup of players that hit a pitcher well with both high average and power. When you find this it’s hard not to think that you have panned for gold and found a very nice nugget.

Conversely, you will need to see how a pitcher does vs. the whole team. Some pitchers absolutely dominate certain opposing teams for whatever reason. Who knows what the root of their success is, just go with it. Some players do well vs. their favorite teams they had as a kid, some like the mound, some have confidence for whatever reason and so on. At time of print, one of our favorite pitcher vs. hitter scenarios is Roy Oswalt vs. the Reds. Dude absolutely kills them with a 16-0 record and very respectable ERA. Why? Who knows! Who cares! Just hit it! (assuming he’s not in a funk at the current time, then it’d become a questionable move)

Next, we move on to talk about grass vs. turf. There is indeed a difference and with some pitchers this makes a difference in their performance. Almost all pitchers will have a difference in stats when pitching on both surfaces with the turf of course yielding a bit more as the ball skips a little faster and bounces a little higher with regards to base hits. It also creates base hits that wouldn’t be otherwise had it not happened on turf. One may think that a grass field may balance this out as laying down bunts is dandy when it comes to grass, but unfortunately the bunt has become such a small part of today’s MLB game that it’s not worth factoring in unless your talking about the early 80’s cardinals teams who could run like the wind. This isn’t a huge stat but is surely worth being familiar with to help support your play.

Another thing similar to grass vs. turf is night games vs. day games. Some pitchers balls are harder to pick up at night under the lights so this can make a difference. Highly recommended that you view night/day pitching stats and make notes of any differences a pitcher may be consistently showing year after year. This is another stat that offers for free. It could also be said that some hitters may do better/worse during one or the other as well. I know back when I played I was a much better hitter in the day time as the ball was much easier to pick up out of the pitchers hand.

For the serious stat rat, you can also dig up stats such as playing
in outdoor stadiums vs. playing in domes
. There’s aren’t many domes
left in MLB, but it’s worth checking into. As with all the other comparisons
above, disparities can be found and turned into big loot if your willing
to take the time to check them out.

As we go down our own personal list of what to look for when handicapping baseball games, we’d like to note that these aren’t necessarily listed in order of importance. We note that because our next topic is VERY important.

Your almost done! Click here for Part 3.