Glossary of Important Baseball Terms For MLB Bettors

Doug Upstone

Thursday, July 2, 2015 5:11 PM GMT

Here at Sportsbook Review we want to provide you a list of baseball terms and their relevance to sports betting. Some are more meaningful than others and are noted in such a manner.

Ball Park Factor
It is calculated by dividing all runs scored by and against a given team at its home stadium, by the number of runs scored by and against that team on the road, then multiplying the result by 100. By taking into account all runs scored in a given stadium, this statistic is capable of measuring how hitter-friendly or pitcher-friendly a given baseball park is. Strong Indicator for totals, but oddsmakers are very aware of this as well and post numbers accordingly.

 

Batting Average
Over the years has become less important as a team statistic and has almost no correlation to figuring out wins and losses.

 

Bullpen ERA
This has increasing taken on greater importance in the last two decades with greater non-starter usage. The success and failure of MLB picks can definitely be tied to this figure and is a Strong Indicator of side and totals based on team numbers.

 

Earned Run Average (ERA)
For wagering purposes, far more important from the team perspective than individual, providing an overview of the entire staff. Strong Indicator for side and totals action.

 

Errors
This and fielding percentage are pretty closely tied and while there is no evidence of better fielding teams win more with fewer errors, this is definitely a component of losing teams over the year. Good indicator in one element.

 

Hits
The value of base hits for betting baseball is acknowledged in the fact that the normal equation is two hits are worth one run. Typically, the more hits generated leads to wins and the fewer to defeats.

 

Home Plate Umpire
Some baseball handicappers view this as a Strong Indicator for totals in particular and to a lesser degree for side action. The tighter or looser the strike zone can directly affect the runs scored.

 

Home Runs
While not a direct correlation, nevertheless, teams that hit more balls over the fence have a better chance of winning MLB picks, as long as they also prevent them at the same time. Ballpark factors also apply here. Good Indicator of wagering success if both elements are in place.

 

Pitch Counts
For betting purposes, this has become another important indicator. If what is perceived to be a good pitcher throws a lot of pitches for varied reasons and he usually comes out of a game in the fifth or sixth inning, the outcomes often becomes bullpen dependent, good or bad. Conversely, a starting pitching who works deep into games is more often successful with the setup man and closer there to do their jobs.

 

Pitching Matchups
This can be a very effective tool if teams can take advantage of or have problems with right or left-handed starting pitchers. Each year you will find good or bad numbers particularly with certain teams and often as very Strong Indicators.

 

On Base Percentage (OBP)
This has gained in popularity with sabermetrics advances and is a better indicator than a straight batting average because it incorporates walks and hit by pitches and gives a clearer picture of player and team with more base runners. Good Indicator for sides and totals.

 

On Base + Slugging Percentages (OPS)
Similar to OBP with one more element and basically tells the same story with somewhat different order results. Not as popular as OBP because not everyone understands the value of slugging percentage. Still, Good Indicator for sides and totals.

 

Pythagorean Expectation
Developed by renowned saber guru Bill James, it is a formula of runs scored and runs allowed to determine what a team's record should be.

Win = runs scored² /(runs scored² + runs allowed²) = 1 / 1 + (runs scored + runs allowed)²

Since introduced it is fine-tuned from 2 to 1.83 power for greater accuracy. Helpful indicator to understand if team's are over or under-achieving and almost always bullpen ERA's are the reason for differentials.

 

Run Differential 
The differences in runs scored and runs allowed over a season. This is normally a Strong Indicator of a team's strength or weakness and is important for making picks.

 

Runs Scored
To overstate the obvious, if a team scores more than their opponent they win. The key is how much more and over the last several seasons tracking, the team that reaches five runs first wins about 92 percent of the time. Determine this for wagering and you are on to millions.

 

Starting Pitcher ERA
Still part of the foundation of how sportsbooks set lines, but its importance has been curtailed with pitch counts and increased bullpen usage. A lower bullpen ERA has more meaning to wins and losses than a team's starting staff ERA. Still a Good Indicator however.

 

Strikeouts
No real significant data to prove striking out more or less contributes to wins or losses, however, when double digit strikeouts happen for both teams in individual contests, the Under total is more prevalent.

 

Total Bases
This is a good measuring stick to understand the strengths or weaknesses of offenses or pitching staffs, yet not effective in determining sports picks.

 

WAR
Means - wins above replacement - and this stat measures the number of wins a player contributes relative to a freely available minor leaguer. Very popular with saber-crowd, but have never shown where adding WAR player numbers for teams added up to more wins in sports wagering.

 

Walks
No reasonable indicators of more or less walks having a long term effect on a team basis to wins or losses. However, pitchers in individual games who have extremes either way, typically have results which lead to more runs with more walks and vice versa.

 

WHIP
This is walks plus hits per inning and from a wagering perspective it is similar to ERA from a team perspective but has many inherent advantages from a single game perspective particularly from pitcher whose WHIP is under 1.2 (especially underdogs - play on) or pitchers with a WHIP of 1.5 or higher (as favorites - play against). Definitely strong indicator.