Home Runs, Blown Saves Wreaking Havoc On MLB Over/Unders

Jul 10, 2019 05:00 PM EDT
Credit:

Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) looks up after giving up a home run.

  • Through the first half of the 2019 MLB season, teams have hit a combined 3,691 total home runs and are currently on pace for 6,668 home runs.
  • In games with an over/under of 10 or more in 2019, the over is 134-106-6 (55.8%), going over the total by 1.2 runs per game.
  • On average, MLB games are going over the total by 0.76 runs per game this season, which would be the highest mark over a full season in the Bet Labs database going back to 2005.

We have reached the All-Star break and now it is time to not only recap the first half of the season, but to try and forecast what the second half of the season might look like.

If the goal was to try and recap the first half of the season in a quick phrase, it wouldn’t be accurate if it didn’t contain the two words home and run.

Bettors Dig The Long Ball

Justin Verlander may have backed off his comments from earlier this week about baseballs being juiced, but the offensive pace has been undeniable.

Through the first half of the season, Major League teams have hit a combined 3,691 total home runs and are currently on pace for 6,668 home runs this season. That total is nearly 1,100 more home runs than a year ago and more than 500 more home runs than the record of 6,105 back in 2017.

The Minnesota Twins lead all of baseball with 166 home runs, six more than the second place team, the Seattle Mariners. Minnesota is on pace to hit a whopping 307 home runs in 2019, which would shatter their franchise home run record by more than 80 homers.

Minnesota Twins, Max Kepler. Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In the home run department, you can also point towards the New York Yankees’ absurd record streak of 31 consecutive games with at least one home run hit this season.

Over that span, the Yankees totaled 57 home runs by 14 different players to achieve the feat. Prior to New York breaking the record, it was the 2002 Texas Rangers who owned this feat with 27 consecutive games.

One of the results of this high volume of home runs is an increase in high over/unders in the betting market this season.

Not to mention, in 2019, we have had 18 games with a total of 12 or higher, there were only 11 in total last season.

Oh, What A Relief It Is

Aside from home runs, the other angle that has caught my eye when focusing on totals is just how putrid relief pitchers have been this season.

Since the Divisional Era began in 1969, relief pitchers have never had a worse ERA through a full season than starting pitchers.

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz. Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the All-Star Break, starting pitchers have an ERA of 4.46, while relief pitchers have a 4.48 ERA.  The scary thing about how bad relievers have been so far this year is their collective ERA has raised each and every month:

  • April: 4.37 ERA
  • May: 4.45 ERA
  • June: 4.62 ERA
  • July: 4.69 ERA

Not to mention, teams have blown a total of 360 saves this season, which gives closers a save percentage of 64.9%. That would be the third-lowest percentage over a full season since 1969, behind just 1974 (61.5%) and 2008 (64.3%).

With pitching having such a rough go of it in 2019, the main question has to be: How are shaky relievers and big bats affecting over/unders? Well, I’m glad you asked.

The Betting Impact

As my colleague Josh Appelbaum pointed out in his first half recap, overs have been cashing at a historic pace so far in 2019, with a 51.3% win percentage.

On average, MLB games are going over the total by 0.76 runs per game this season, which would be the highest mark over a full season in the Bet Labs database dating back to 2005. The closest mark over that span was in 2015, when it went over the total by 0.7 runs per game over a full season and the over win percentage finished at exactly 51.3%.

Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout. Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oddsmakers haven’t had an easy go of it either. In 2019, the higher they have set the total, the more the games have been going over.

In games with a total of 10 or higher, the over is 134-106-6 (55.8%), going over the total by 1.2 runs per game.

In games with a total lower than 10,  the over is 521-516-59 (50.2%), going over the total by 0.7 runs per game.

Entering the All-Star break, overs are 655-622-65 (51.3%) this season, profiting bettors $777 on a $100 per game basis, going over the total by 0.76 runs per game.

In the Bet Labs database, only once has betting the over been profitable through the full month of July in an MLB regular season.

That occurred back in 2006, when overs were an astounding 804-713-57 (53%), profiting bettors $7,121 on a $100 per game basis. In the second half of the 2006 season, in the months of August, September and October, overs saw a distinct dip compared to the first half.

 

Including the playoffs, overs went 386-450-48 (46.2%), losing bettors $7,359 on a $100 per game basis during the second half of the 2006 season. Overs still went exceeded the total by 0.19 runs per game in that stretch, but that paled in comparison to the 0.69 margin in the first half.

When it comes to the second half of the 2019 season, a lot will depend on if overs can continue their historic run, but what we do know is that over/unders themselves are on the rise, so the question is, can they keep up with the offense of today?

How would you rate this article?
Follow Evan Abrams on Twitter
@EvanHAbrams

Top Stories