By Edward Egros
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst
Class! Let’s dust off your notes from this past season and look at some betting trends for 2022.
We want to see what happened, find out why, and then use that information to prepare for when it’s time to place our futures bets at FOX Bet.
Here are three things I noticed:
The unders prevailed
By my math, if you discount pushes, Unders in the Over/Under won 52% of the time.
One of the things we discussed was how the overall offense went down in MLB. Fewer home runs were the main (and perhaps only) reason for the decline.
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This season, 0.74% of pitches were hit out of the yard, the lowest mark since 2015. Not that batters weren’t trying, considering 17.52% of pitches went in game, the highest rate in five years.
Hitters weren’t hitting as often either. The 5.78% slugging rate was the lowest since 2018. Home runs were simply cheaper.
Blame it on how the baseballs were stored, bad luck, or something else. Betting on Unders is usually the right move.
Some teams piled up the wins
If the Yankees had gotten one more win, we would have seen five 100-win teams in one season for the first time in MLB history.
The Dodgers won 111 games, the most in the National League in more than a century. The NL East stood out two ball clubs with triple-digit wins (Braves, Mets). The world champion Astros surpassed his win total with 14.5 wins. The good teams were dominant to a degree we don’t usually see.
What this result means for preseason win totals is that only 12 went over, while 18 went under. For perspective, last season was a close 50-50 game.
What did these four 100-win ball clubs have in common? The ability to get on base. Four of the top seven teams in base-weighted average were the Dodgers, Astros, Braves and Mets.
It may have been harder to hit home runs this season, but the best teams adjusted and still found ways to score runs.
Bring back the birds of Baltimore
The Orioles weren’t going to stay bad forever.
The ballclub’s first winning season since 2016 was worth backing against the spread, which covered nearly 60 percent of its games, the best rate in MLB. Bettors seemed to believe Baltimore would regress to the mean and return to the lackluster brand of baseball we were used to seeing.
One thing the O’s did well was limit the base of balls. His 7.2% walk rate was eighth best in the majors. But, it wasn’t just the launch. The youngsters were starting to show their talent as FanGraphs ranked the Orioles as the second best farm system in baseball.
At some point, these players would be ready for prime time. No one personified that idea more than catcher Adley Rutschman, who finished with the second-highest FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement among rookies (5.3). Immediately, the O’s stopped being a team you could simply bet to lose outright and get the small payouts.
As always, we learn things now, so we can apply those ideas next season. However, it is important not to immediately assume that the lines and totals will simply bounce the other way because the market is efficient.
For example, I wouldn’t blindly bet on Overs next season. However, I would investigate if home runs occur more often and then adjust accordingly. Teams could also try to hit for average more, which could increase runs scored.
I also don’t expect more teams to reach their win total. It’ll probably be closer to a 50-50 split, though I’ll be watching free agency to see if the market overreacts to big names going to new places, and I’ll be keeping an eye on farm system performance to see if there is a ball. The club will have to have young stars ready for the show.
Ultimately, the Orioles were a great story and are certainly a postseason possibility in 2023, but the win total may be overstated. It is best to look at next season in a vacuum.
There is more research to be done before more bets are published on FOX Bet, but until then…class dismissed!
Edward Egros is a sports analytics broadcaster/writer, sports betting analyst, data scientist, and assistant professor of statistics at Pepperdine University. These passions have led him to become an aficionado of cold beer. Edward previously worked in local television, most notably at the Fox affiliate in Dallas, covering the Rangers, Cowboys and high school football. follow him Ttweet @EdWithSports.
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