Tuesday was a big day for the model, going 3-1, including a single-team suggested play.
I only have three picks today, as September call-ups have led to many pitchers having insufficient sample sizes to model.
The process is relatively simple. First, I start by assuming that the (implied) full-game running totals for either team are approximately efficient. As mentioned above, that tends to be the case most of the time.
This saves me the trouble of trying to predict the total runs scored in the game and allows me to focus strictly on “when” instead of “how many.”
Next, I built a database of how the pitchers performed the first time through the order, relative to their overall stats. Since the latter is presumably included in the full game total, I wanted to find 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 variation in how much. The model uses xFIP (expected fielding independent pitch) as a predictor of pick effectiveness.
However, that’s only half of the equation, and offenses make up the other half. To do this, I looked at what percentage of a team’s total runs are produced by the top three hitters in the lineup.
While a run scored in the first inning, by definition, needs at least four batters to reach the plate, one of the first three has to score it. The metric chosen here is wRC+, based on each team’s projected lineup for the day.
This is a trade-off of sorts, as lineups (and running totals) can change throughout the day, especially if important contributors miss time.
However, in my experience, the inefficiency of the morning lines more than makes up for the leakage in the model. That said, be careful if, say, Mike Trout is listed as questionable for the night’s game.
With all the selections below, I will include the pick, the best line, and the threshold I would bet on. These will increase in the morning, so if any important news appears between the publication and the time you read it, be sure to consider it.
Infrequently, instead of betting on traditional YRFI/NRFI, the choice will be on one team or another specifically to score a run, which as of this writing is only one betting option on DraftKings.
Since the model handles each team individually, sometimes a team projects a greater proportion of “run equity” in the first inning than the betting lines represent.
NRFI Odds and Picks for Wednesday, September 13
Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs NRFI: Obviously, Coors Field’s NRFIs are a big risk, but the Rockies’ ineptitude on offense limits the risk here. Rockies starter Jameson Taillon isn’t very good, but his best xFIP is his first time in the order. He would recommend this as a mid drive.
Houston Astros team-specific YRFI: We’re back in the hole in this one, with Houston involved in 5.34 runs in total. The Astros also have one of the top three strongest hitters in baseball. This is especially attractive thanks to DraftKings’ 50% profit boost on any MLB bet, which has more value on plus-money bets like this one.
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees YRFI: This is a pretty generous line considering the 9.5 run total and the strength of both teams’ lineups. Neither Clarke Schmidt nor Tanner Houck have particularly strong splits the first time around, so there’s nothing stopping us from this one.
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