How to Use Sabermetrics to Bet on MLB

by faststeady on May 9, 2012

Sabermetrics is a term that almost every MLB bettor has heard of by now although most bettors don’t use the stats to their advantage. Sabermetrics is simply an analysis of MLB through MLB statistics and other objective information.

For the past 10+ years bettors have started to utilize sabermetrics to bet on baseball although the stats have been around since the 1980’s. You aren’t going to be able to just use sabermetrics to crush the bookies, but by using the stats below you can predict future outcomes based on statistics alone. If you find an edge based on your projected predictions and the odds you should place the wager.

What Sabermetrics Stats Are Most Helpful When Handicapping MLB Games?

Sabermetricians have been developing stats to help baseball fans analyze the game at a more in-depth level than previously possible. Common baseball statistics can’t be used accurately to analyze the game of baseball and that’s why sabermetrics were developed.

The math behind sabermetrics isn’t easy and many of the formulas require a math degree, but that doesn’t concern sports handicappers. Multiple sites track the most important sabermetric stats and you can use the sites when doing your research, but we’ll get into that a bit later in the guide.

OPS – On Base + Slugging Percentage – The OPS is a player’s on base plus slugging percentage, which allows you to quickly judge a player’s production (Ability to get on Base + Hit for Power).

wOBA – Weight On Base Average – The wOBA stat also analyzes hitters and is more accurate than using the OPS, so make sure you utilize wOBA. The major difference is wOBA uses proper values for each hitting event and OPS doesn’t.

WHIP – Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched – WHIP is commonly used by baseball broadcasters now and is a stat that looks at the walks + hits a pitcher gives up per inning. This sabermetric stat can be utilized to find pitchers that are being overvalued or undervalue by the sportsbooks.

QS – Quality Start – The QS stat has been used a lot in the past few years now as well and this stat can be found on most major baseball websites. A QS is when a pitcher throws a minimum of 6 innings and gives up 3 or less runs. This stat will help you find great 1st 5 inning bets if you don’t want to worry about handicapping the bullpens.

Def Eff – Defensive Efficiency – This is one of the best defensive stats and one of the only ones I look at regularly. You can use the Def Eff stat to determine how many balls in play are turned into outs by the defence. A good defence is vital in baseball to keep runs off of the scoreboard.

ERA+ – This stat can be helpful to look at how a pitcher is pitching under certain circumstances. The ERA+ stat is the ERA of a pitcher that has been adjusted based on the ballpark the pitcher is pitching in and the league average.

Runs Created – The runs created stat is helpful in determining how many runs a player creates. The calculations for this stat vary based on the sabermetrician conducting the research although the basic calculation is Hits + Walks x Total Bases / At Bats + Walks. You can also use this stat to predict how many runs a set line-up will score based on a 9 inning game.

WAR/WARP – This is a stat that determines how many wins a hitter/pitcher is worth compared to what a replacement player would do in the line-up. This stat helps you distinguish the value of certain players and you can use this to your advantage when a star player is out of a line-up due to injury or simply due to being a healthy scratch.

DIPS – Defensive Independent Pitching Stats – DIPS looks at how a pitcher is performing based solely on the plays that are not affected by anyone else on the team. Numerous basic stats are combined in a formula to determine the DIPS of a pitcher and for the most part looks at the home runs allowed, strikeouts allowed and walks allowed per inning.

BABIP – Batting Average on Balls in Play – BABIP will allow bettors to take a look at how often a certain hitter gets on base when they hit the ball in play or it can show you how many times a pitcher gives up a hit when the ball is hit in play. You can use this statistic to help you find teams that are undervalued or overvalued based on having a high/low BABIP.

How to Use Sabermetrics When Handicapping MLB Games?

Many common baseball stats such as a hitter’s batting average or a pitcher’s earned runs average don’t accurately help predict the future outcome of baseball games. Let’s take a quick look at an example of where sabermetrics can help you win more of your baseball bets. Sabermetrics can be used in 100’s of ways to assist you with handicapping MLB games and you’ll learn a lot with experience.

In baseball hits and walks often translates into runs scored. Looking at the ERA of a pitcher doesn’t give you an accurate picture of how a pitcher has been performing. A pitcher’s WHIP is described above as being a pitcher’s Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched. A WHIP that’s as close to 1 is ideal and the league average is typically about a 1.40 WHIP. By using this stat you can see if a pitcher has been getting “lucky” or “unlucky” on the mound.

If a pitcher has a low WHIP and a high ERA it often translates into the pitcher being “unlucky” due to bad fielding or numerous other factors that can affect a pitcher’s ERA. Typically a pitcher with a low WHIP and a high ERA is due to start giving up less runs and you can use this knowledge to bet on the pitcher in favourable match-ups. A pitcher with a low ERA and a high WHIP is the opposite and is often due to regress and start giving up more runs, which is valuable information you can use while betting on MLB.

Where Can I Access Sabermetrics Stats Online?

The most common question bettors have is where can I find sabermetrics stats? The most popular sites to find up to the minute sabermetrics stats are FanGraphs.com, BaseballProspectus.com and Baseball-Reference.com. These sites have the best sabermetrics stats that you can access 24/7 while doing your handicapping research. Trying to keep a database of these stats on your own is very difficult and not feasible for the average sports handicapper.

We’ll update this guide with more valuable sabermetrics information as the MLB season gets underway, but this guide is a great primer for sports bettors that want to start utilizing more advanced stats. You can find the formulas for the stats above freely available online, but you’ll most likely become more confused than anything. All you need to do is understand what the sabermetric stats are telling you and how the stats can be implemented to make you a better MLB bettor.

About The Author

has written 94 awesome posts on tipsandpicks.com.

faststeady has been a professional sports bettor for the past decade and focusses on non-US sports here at tipsandpicks.com