MLB Betting: Importance Of Using ERA As A Measure Of A Pitcher's Effectiveness

Jake Walker

Sunday, January 10, 2016 5:59 PM UTC

Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 5:59 PM UTC

When handicapping baseball, you can look through a variety of statistics. In this article we analyse the importance of the ERA when measuring the effectiveness of a pitcher.

The first stat that most fans study and bettors look for when placing MLB picks is either a player's batting average or a pitcher's ERA.

Measuring a pitcher's ERA will help determine how effective he is without taking other players' errors into account. The ERA or earned run average represents how many runs a pitcher gives up every nine innings, so the lower the number, the better. ERA standards have varied over time; as of 2015, an ERA in the low 2.00s is considered excellent. (the average is typically over 3.50).


What is an Earned Run and How to Measure the ERA?
An earned run is any run that the opponent scores off a pitcher, except for runs scored as a result of errors. For instance, if David Price gives up a solo home run and then an error causes another run to score, he is only credited with the first run.

The earned run average can be calculated using the following formula:

(Earned Runs/Innings Pitched) x 9

Therefore, if Madison Bumgarner is charged with 18 earned runs in his first 92 innings pitched, his ERA would be 18 divided by 92, which is, 0.217 times 9 (1.76), a very good number.

(18 runs / 92 innings) x 9 = 1.76

It's important to remember to multiply by 9 at the end, because by calculating runs/innings you have only figured out the earned runs per inning, but the ERA is actually the earned run average per nine innings (an entire game). The number, which is usually represented with two places after the decimal, shows an average of how many runs a pitcher gives up in a full game.

Here's one last example: Zack Greinke gave up 41 earned runs over 222.2 innings last season. What was his ERA? Simple -- divide 41 runs by 222.2 innings pitched and multiply that by 9. The correct answer is 1.66.

The earned run average should not be the only measure of a pitcher's effectiveness that bettors and casual fans use to beat the MLB odds at sportsbooks like Bovada though, because it doesn't take into account the role that defense plays, a pitcher's durability or any ballpark factors. Nevertheless, the ERA is the most frequently used statistic for a pitcher's effectiveness because it is simple and straightforward. Always use the ERA metric alongside innings totals, strikeout rates, walk rates and groundball to flyball ratios so it can be even more helpful.

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