Why WHIP Should Play a Part in All of Your MLB Picks: Part 1

Joe Gavazzi

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 12:49 PM GMT

We've given you different betting strategies based on the K/BB ratio, WHIP and OPS to name a few, but this time our expert handicapper analyzes the WHIP when betting on totals so you can maximize your profit.

Earlier this season we explored numerous traditional ways to use pitching analytics as a way to isolate profit. There were varying degrees of success with all of these, including ERA (earned run average), K/BB (strikeout to walk ratio), OPS (combined opponents’ on base percentage plus slugging average), and BAA (opponents’ batting average against). I then even put them into one convenient formula, which provided an index that can measure an individual starting pitcher, or groups of pitchers. All of these were found to be successful. 

Yet none has proven to be more successful over the years than one of the simplest indexes used, the WHIP (a pitcher’s walks and hits allowed per innings pitched). For some reason, the line maker does not quite take into account this meaningful index, despite its simplicity. In our early studies of the WHIP, we noticed a direct correlation between a pitcher's positive TRGS (team record games started) and a WHIP of 1.10 or lower. At the other end of the scale we noted a direct correlation between a pitchers negative TRGS and a WHIP of 1.55 or higher. When I further isolated a pitcher’s WHIP numbers,  it became apparent that the home/road splits of the WHIP numbers resulted in W/L percentages of up to 70%. With parity still ruling in MLB (90% of the teams each year play .400-.600 baseball), this can be a huge edge in the line, especially in the first half of the season. Post ASB lines, however, have often caught up to these class A or class D pitchers, eroding some of the value that has been accumulating in the first 60% of the season. 

With that in mind, I decided to switch my attention to totals, or the over/under line. I hypothesized that any road pitcher with a road WHIP of 1.10 or lower would be a solid UNDER proposition. In a corresponding way, the hypothesis was that any road pitcher with a road WHIP of 1.55 or higher would be a solid OVER proposition. As the records below through Sunday, July 19th will indicate, my hypothesis proved to be factual. 

The results proved to be highly fruitful. Consider the following: there are 32 road pitchers in MLB who have made at least 3 or more road starts, and have a road WHIP of 1.10 or less. Their combined over/under record through Sunday, July 19th is…

90 overs and 132 unders (59.5% UNDER)

At the other end of the spectrum, there are 45 MLB road pitchers who, after a minimum of 3 road starts have a road WHIP of 1.55 or higher. Their combined over/under record is…

155 overs and 110 unders (58.5% OVER)

The average scoring in MLB this year is just slightly over 8 RPG, among the lowest it has been in many years. Some have hypothesized that it is because of the specialization in the relief corps, the multitude of 95+ MPG pitchers, or unique defensive shifts in alignments born from analytics. Through all this, however, the line maker rarely strays (except in Colorado) from over/under lines that range from 6.5-9.5 RPG. As a result, there remains plenty of value when isolating your over/under selections, using a road pitcher’s WHIP as a starting point. 

Since no singular indicator is ever enough to warrant a play, it is always good to isolate the current form of our starting pitcher, as well as his pitching opponent, to make sure they reinforce your over or under play. The same is true for the current form in team batting, as well as the YTD over/under record for a pitcher’s team. Using these in combination is a solid basis for your over/under MLB picks on a daily basis. 

Continue Reading the Second Part of this Betting Series Here.