Is a Good Record at the All-Star Break Predictive of Future Success?

With the Midsummer Classic completed and a couple of days off to prepare for the remainder of the MLB season, let’s take a look at some of the best teams and pitchers so far this season. We are not using standings, sabermetrics, or scouting reports to determine who the best have been. From a gambling perspective, the most important measure of success is money won. Since everyone bets different amounts on games, we simply use Units Won to put everyone on the same playing field.

The table below shows the top five teams this season in terms of units won.

Team Record Units Won
Pittsburgh Pirates 56-37 +21.4
Oakland Athletics 56-39 +10.4
Cleveland Indians 51-44 +10.0
Baltimore Orioles 53-43 +9.3
St. Louis Cardinals 57-36 +8.9

As you can see, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been far and away the best bet this season.  Not only do they have a great record, but they have more wins as an underdog (30) than they do as a favorite (26) which helps explain the high number of units won.

But more importantly than their record thus far, should you continue to ride the Pirates and the other teams on this list?  We used our BetLabs software to look at the best performing teams at the All-Star break and see how they performed through the rest of the season.

Season (Top 5 Teams) Units at All-Star Break Units Rest of Season
2012 (PIT, BAL, NYM, WAS, OAK) +55.61 +24.0
2011 (PIT, CLE, ARI, ATL, NYM) +45.17 -17.07
2010 (SD, CHW, NYM, TB, CIN) +47.58 -1.93
2009 (LAD, LAA, TEX, SF, SEA) +58.32 +16.13
2008 (MIN, LAA, MIA, STL, TEX) +72.32 +6.44
TOTAL +279.0 +27.57

Although riding the best teams through the rest of the season has been profitable over the last five years, it doesn’t appear to be a consistent system or one worth following blindly.  Since team records didn’t seem to help us find anything useful, our next step was to look at starting pitchers.

The table below shows the top five pitchers this season in terms of units won.

Pitcher Record Units Won
Patrick Corbin (ARI) 11-1 +13.0
Jeanmar Gomez (PIT) 2-0 +9.3
Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) 6-4 +9.0
Bartolo Colon (OAK) 12-3 +8.4
Chris Tillman (BAL) 11-3 +8.1

Not surprisingly, many of the pitchers having the best seasons show up on the teams having the best seasons.  Also you should notice how little a pitcher’s win-loss record correlates to the units won.  Wins and losses are not indicative of how well (or poorly) a pitcher has actually performed and shouldn’t carry much weight when breaking down games.  But once again, we are less interested in past performance and more interested in predicting future results.

Again, we used our BetLabs software and looked at the top five pitchers at the All-Star break and see how they performed for the rest of the season.

Season Units at All-Star Break Units Rest of Season
2012 +45.86 -7.84
2011 +38.74 +10.61
2010 +42.43 -2.83
2009 +39.94 +1.87
2008 +55.51 -1.97
TOTAL +222.48 -0.16

Riding the top five starting pitchers the rest of the season has resulted in a net loss of .16 units, or breaking even basically.  Historically it’s not good enough to bet on these pitchers, but it’s also not bad enough to fade either.

Whether you are looking at teams or pitchers, the correlation for results before and after the All-Star break seem minimal.  Betting the “hot” team or starter might be just as fruitful as betting the “hot” numbers in roulette.  You may be able to have a good short run, but in the end, every game is an independent event.

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