Items to Consider Before Betting: "Avoiding the Sweep"

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 4:56 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017 4:56 PM UTC

Our MLB handicapper discusses "Avoiding the Sweep" and "Dog Chase" betting systems, and how sports bettors should approach these methods when betting on baseball. 

As a handicapper that focuses on the subtleties of batted ball, a pitch value, and fielding independent pitching statistics in analyzing baseball matchups, the theory of betting on teams solely based on avoiding a sweep is a foreign one. Yet there are a few of those betting systems out there which have been mentioned in recent SBR Forum threads. It’s a topic that warrants discussion, as many paid handicappers advertise such systems as part of their services.

Most avoid the sweep systems either focus on the third or fourth game in a series or are some kind of “chase” in which you bet a series underdog until they win – increasing units of each bet. Betting these systems blind would be an easy way out as you don’t really have to think. However, because of the nature of the “chase” one can find themselves in a hole right quick if things go wrong. And most bettors don’t limit their units enough when experimenting with such systems either, betting too much of their bankroll in percentage terms.

Instead of losing or winning teams for these systems I’d rather focus on the pitching statistics that have made me successful in my handicapping career. For instance, wouldn’t it make more sense to create an Over “chase” in a situation where the wind will be blowing out in an entire series, combined with pitching matchups that feature line drive hitters? Remember, line drives 1.26 runs per out while fly balls produce 0.13 runs per out. On the flipside, and Under “chase” with a high total weather situation with ground ball pitching matchups would work. After all, ground balls result in 0.05 runs per out.

Another, maybe more approachable, method of finding an underdog that is a good candidate to avoid a sweep are those with preferable handedness matchups. A series featuring a team with two lefties taking a turn on the mound should have a chance against a winning team with a lineup full of righties, no matter how good they are. These matchups are easy to spot in the MLB odds board. The handedness of each starting pitcher is listed, as is each team’s average against that side of the mound.

The main point I am trying to make is that there is too much information available for us to bet a system blind. It isn’t good enough to say that if you flip a coin heads three times in a row that you should bet the fourth time tails – especially when we have information on the weight of the coin, the wind speed, flip velocity, etc. Always take the specific situation into account as guidance before making your move.


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