MLB NRFI & YRFI Picks: 3 Model Projections & Bets for Tuesday’s Games

MLB NRFI & YRFI Picks: 3 Model Projections & Bets for Tuesday’s Games article feature image

Photo by Paul Rutherford/Getty Images. Pictured: Luis Medina (Athletics)

Being a bit more selective paid off on Monday with a perfect 3-0 start to the week.

We're going to stick with that today, as there aren't a ton of plays that stand out. However, a few are showing fairly big value.

The Model

The process is relatively simple. First, I start by assuming that the full game (implied) run totals for either team are roughly efficient.

As mentioned above, that tends to be the case more often than not. This saves me the trouble of trying to predict the total runs scored in the game — and allows me to focus strictly on the "when" rather than "how many."

Next, I built a database of pitchers performance the first time through the order, relative to their overall stats.

Since the latter is presumably baked into the full game total, I wanted to figure out if those runs are more likely to come early or late. Most — but not all — MLB starters do somewhat better early in games, but with some variance in just how much. The model uses xFIP (expected Fielding Independent Pitching) as the ERA predictor of choice.

That's only half of the equation, though, with the offenses making up the other half. To do this, I looked at what percentage of a team's total runs is produced by the top three batters in the lineup.

While a first inning run scored, by definition, needs at least four hitters to come to the plate, one of the first three has to actually score it. The metric of choice here is wRC+, based on the projected lineup for the day from each team.

This is a bit of a tradeoff, as lineups (and run totals) can shift throughout the day, especially if significant contributors miss time.

However, in my experience the inefficiency of the morning lines more than makes up for the leakage in the model. With that said, exercise caution if, say, Mike Trout is listed as questionable for the night's game.

The Picks

With all of the picks below, I'll include the pick, the best line and the threshold I'd bet it to. These will go up in the morning, so if any major news breaks between publishing and when you read it, be sure to consider that.

Infrequently, rather than betting on the traditional YRFI/NRFI, the pick will be on one team or the other specifically to score a run, which as of this writing is only a betting option at DraftKings.

Since the model handles each team individually, sometimes one team is projecting for a greater proportion of the "run equity" in the first inning than the betting lines are accounting for.

NRFI Odds, Picks for Tuesday, July 18

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies NRFI: This game has a higher total than I generally target for NRFIs, but there are other factors pointing us that way. Both starters have solid early-game splits, and both offenses are bottom five in terms of their top three hitters' production. I'm projecting just under 50%, so getting it at +110 is a solid value. I'm playing this one at half of a unit, though.

San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds YRFI: We cashed a YRFI in this series yesterday despite just four total runs (in a seven-inning game), and we're going back to that well. "Coors Field East" continues to supply us with some large game totals, and we also have two top-five offenses when looking at the share of runs produced by the top of the order.

Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics YRFI: I have this game at a hair under 55% for a first-inning run, with a solid nine-run total and two pitchers with bad first-time-through-the-order splits (but very limited sample sizes). This is a solid pick at plus money, but I wouldn't go much beyond that given the fragility of the projection.

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