MLB Daily Betting Model, 3/28: Trust Home Teams on Opening Day
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Brad Keller
- Sean Zerillo built an MLB model to help find edges in betting moneylines and over/unders for the full game and First 5 innings.
- He analyzes his favorite Opening Day bets from the model below.
- Plug in your odds to the spreadsheet at the bottom of this article to see where you might have an edge.
If this is your first time with us this baseball season, then welcome! I don’t blame you for skipping out on those early morning starts in Japan last week. Waking up that early two days in a row put my body into a shock that I’m not sure I have recovered from yet.
Here’s what you missed: Tim Beckham threw down a 10/10 bat flip, Yusei Kikuchi looked solid in his major league debut (albeit in a home environment in Japan), and the Mariners surprisingly won both games — which was overshadowed by Ichiro retiring.
In place of the video of Ichiro walking off of the field for the last time (you can find that and cry on your own time, dangit) I need to leave this here forever:
Ah, yes, the meticulously focused, signature plate approach that inspired my wife to remark, “He stands like a warrior getting ready for battle.” Ichiro, you will be missed, but we will press on without you.
Using the Model
Thursday, March 28 is the first full slate of games for all 30 Major League Baseball clubs. Every first pitch will occur during an afternoon time slot, beginning with Mets vs. Nationals and the Yankees vs. Orioles at 1:05 p.m. ET, and finishing with the Red Sox vs. Mariners in a 4:08 p.m. local time slot in Seattle.
Included at the bottom of this article are projections for run totals and fair odds for moneylines, both for the first five innings and the full game. You can import the odds from your local book (into the yellow columns), and the sheet will spit out the projected edge and a potentially recommended bet to consider.
However, you should not bet strictly based on the model, in the same way that you should not bet strictly on gut instinct or by following a system. Use the numbers as a guide, not as gospel. I’m not playing every edge that I see, only the ones that make the most sense when I compare what the numbers say with what my eyes are telling me.
What the Model Doesn’t Do (Yet)
- Adjust for weather
- Adjust for home plate umpire
- Adjust for actual lineups
We’re in a new era of baseball betting when information about starting lineups and home plate umpires is protected as though they are as valuable as corporate trade secrets.
Information asymmetry aside, there is only so much that I can adjust for well in advance of these games. Stay tuned throughout the season, as I will try to provide updated spreadsheets or updated edge figures either in these articles or on Twitter based upon actual umpires and starting lineups for that day’s given contests.
Furthermore, I am working to incorporate a weather adjustment for run totals. If you have a weather adjustment that you would like to incorporate into the run projection columns, feel free to do so, as it is not something that has already been factored into the projections in the way that ballpark effect is.
I’m mostly going to monitor totals for now, in order to see how they perform, but the moneyline percentages are probably as on the nose as I can get them.
Edge Projections, Big Underdogs, and Implied Odds
The lineup shows four First-5-inning moneyline edges, and six full game moneyline edges for tomorrow — on five home teams and the Orioles. All four First 5 recommendations (Baltimore, Kansas City, Miami, Texas) are also recommended for the full game, in addition to Tampa Bay and Seattle.
Baltimore’s edge lies in the Yankees insane moneyline, which sits at -380 for the game at the time of writing. Those odds imply a 79.2 win percentage, well above the full game projection by my standards (68.18%), and also higher than both 538 (76%), and FanGraphs (72%) would project.
Even at a 30 percent win probability, Baltimore’s fair odds would be set at +233, not at +325 as they are currently (23.5% implied odds).
Per The Action Network’s Steve Petrella, here is the complete list of every March or April game with a favorite of -350 or more since 2004:
- April 13, 2006: Yankees (-400) beat Royals
- April 28, 2016: Cubs (-380) beat Brewers
- April 3, 2017: Dodgers (-365) beat Padres
- April 25, 2018: Dodgers (-380) lose vs. Marlins
Even at a potential 10% projected edge, I still might not play the Orioles in this spot. The model is not all about playing strict value; it’s about finding potential value to guide which games you should take a closer look at.
The Orioles burned me too many times last season, and it’s tough to stomach backing them here on Opening Day in the Bronx. It’s one that I will have to sleep on, and see how out of control the line gets by game time. If it creeps near +350, it’s probably an automatic play.
Big underdogs win in baseball all the time, which is why I would pretty much never recommend laying anything over -160 (a 100 win pace). If you remember, on July 28 of last season, the Royals (+360) beat the Yankees (-440) 10-5, the largest moneyline upset in 14 seasons.
We’re going to be playing a lot of underdogs here this season, to be sure, but we’re also not going to get stupid and blindly play bad teams at big odds just hoping to hit one out of every three.
I’m going to sleep on the Orioles, and I’m not fading Chris Sale’s beginning to his likely Cy Young campaign in Seattle. Here are the four home teams that I am definitely backing on Opening Day:
My Bets for 3/28
- Tampa Bay Rays (+120) Game Moneyline vs. HOU
- Miami Marlins (+130) Game Moneyline vs. COL
- Texas Rangers (+115) F5 Moneyline vs. CHC
- Kansas City Royals (-110) F5 Moneyline vs. CWS
- Kansas City Royals (-110) Game Moneyline vs. CWS
Zerillo’s Full MLB Model, 3/28: Moneylines & Over/Unders
Download the Excel doc with my projections to input odds from your sportsbook. These projections cover full game and First 5 moneylines and over/unders. A sample of one of the sheets is below.