Makinen: Profiting from updated bullpen performance rankings for MLB teams

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In keeping with a theme of MLB betting strategy I’m hoping you’ll endorse, I’m here to update another week of success utilizing bullpen strength as the foundation for baseball wagers. For the last several seasons while with VSiN, I have made it a point to regularly update and share my team bullpen rankings with subscribers. As my strategy to back these teams in matchups against lesser bullpens has continued to thrive, I’ve made it a point to give more regular updates on the strategy. I will continue to try and do this weekly if time allows. If not, just know that I am personally continuing to follow it. There couldn’t be an easier strategy. Simply back the team with the higher bullpen ranking. Now, obviously, this involves betting up to 15 games per day, and many people don’t endorse that type of bankroll management. I can agree to a point, as I also like to narrow down my wagers based on other factors I consider important. With that said, the numbers I am sharing with you involve playing every game, unless two teams share identical bullpen ratings.

In any case, after posting my first season update last Monday (April 10th), this past week’s results with the strategy produced a record of 58-38 for +3.79 units or an R.O.I. of 3.9%. If you didn’t win 3.79 units or more last week, you should at least consider the merits of bullpen wagering. These were the results by day:

Monday 4/10: 7-7, -2.3 units

Tuesday 4/11: 11-4, +5.55 units

Wednesday 4/12: 10-5, +2.24 units

Thursday 4/13: 3-4, -4.11 units

Friday 4/14: 10-5, +3.84 units

Saturday 4/15: 9-6, +2.19 units

Sunday 4/16: 8-7, -3.62 units

Adding these numbers to the early results I shared last week, the overall season record of this methodology is now 144-88 for +23.71 units, an R.O.I. of 10.2%.

It should also be noted that the Rays, Twins, and Brewers continue to man the top 3 spots in my team bullpen ratings, and they have put together a combined record of 35-13 for +24.4 units. The bottom three rated bullpens are currently the White Sox, A’s, and Giants, and those teams are a combined 14-32 for -17.8 units.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the key bullpen stats that have been accumulated so far this season, as well as my current Bullpen Power Ratings as we head into this week’s games. Note, ratings were as of games through Sunday, April 16th and I do update them on a daily basis. Important note, I am continuing to work through a process with our developers to have these ratings, as well as my team, starting pitcher, and effective run scoring ratings made available to VSiN subscribers in an easy-to-read and utilize fashion. Hopefully, we will see this implemented in the very near future. I will keep you updated on this.

 

Key Bullpen Stats (through games of April 16th)

Top 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. MILWAUKEE: 2.26
  2. NEW YORK YANKEES: 2.36
  3. TAMPA BAY: 2.47
  4. MINNESOTA: 2.64
  5. ATLANTA: 2.95

Worst 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 7.57
  2. PHILADELPHIA: 6.83
  3. SAN FRANCISCO: 6.08
  4. OAKLAND: 5.88
  5. KANSAS CITY: 5.67

Top 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. MINNESOTA: 0.97
  2. ATLANTA: 1.02
  3. TAMPA BAY: 1.08
  4. LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 1.09
  5. NEW YORK YANKEES: 1.1

Worst 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 1.99
  2. PHILADELPHIA: 1.85
  3. OAKLAND: 1.6
  4. KANSAS CITY: 1.5
  5. SAN FRANCISCO: 1.48

Top 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. CHICAGO CUBS: 11.45
  2. HOUSTON: 10.84
  3. NEW YORK YANKEES: 10.64
  4. KANSAS CITY: 10.33
  5. CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 10.19

Worst 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. TAMPA BAY: 6.09
  2. WASHINGTON: 6.06
  3. OAKLAND: 6.67
  4. MILWAUKEE: 6.8
  5. MIAMI: 7.72

As a reminder, I use a manual process of analyzing daily box scores to build my Bullpen Power Ratings. In most cases, the end number is a reflection of the three stats listed above with great consideration also given to overall talent, injuries, and momentum. For instance, in the cases of Milwaukee and Tampa Bay so far in 2023, both relief staffs have been quite sharp in getting hitters out, and their ERA/WHIP numbers would typically garner an overall higher rating. But at this point, their relief staffs are simply getting hitters out, not overwhelming hitters. At the same time, the Chicago teams are both elite in terms of strikeout numbers, but their run numbers don’t follow suit.

 

Biggest Movers in SM Bullpen Power Ratings since last week Monday the 10th of April:

Biggest upward movers (PR points)

  1. WASHINGTON: +7 points
  2. TORONTO: +7
  3. LOS ANGELES ANGELS: +6
  4. CHICAGO CUBS: +5
  5. MINNESOTA: +5

Biggest downward movers (PR points)

  1. PHILADELPHIA: -9 points
  2. OAKLAND: -9
  3. LOS ANGELES DODGERS: -6
  4. CHICAGO WHITE SOX: -6
  5. KANSAS CITY: -6

Steve’s Current Bullpen Ratings/Ranks

Rank – Team – Bullpen PR

  1. TAMPA BAY: 18
  2. MINNESOTA: 18
  3. MILWAUKEE: 17
  4. ATLANTA: 16
  5. NY YANKEES: 15
  6. SAN DIEGO: 13
  7. CLEVELAND: 13
  8. HOUSTON: 12
  9. TORONTO: 12
  10. ST LOUIS: 10
  11. LOS ANGELES DODGERS: 8
  12. LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 7
  13. SEATTLE: 7
  14. NEW YORK METS: 6
  15. TEXAS: 5
  16. BOSTON: 3
  17. CHICAGO CUBS: 3
  18. BALTIMORE: 2
  19. PITTSBURGH: 1
  20. MIAMI: 0
  21. WASHINGTON: -3
  22. CINCINNATI: -4
  23. ARIZONA: -5
  24. COLORADO: -6
  25. PHILADELPHIA: -8
  26. KANSAS CITY: -9
  27. DETROIT: -10
  28. SAN FRANCISCO: -12
  29. OAKLAND: -16
  30. CHICAGO WHITE SOX: -18

As we look at the MLB schedule in the early part of the week, the biggest bullpen mismatches show (all with double-digit margins):

MIAMI over San Francisco

ST LOUIS over Arizona

CLEVELAND over Detroit

MINNESOTA over Boston

TEXAS over Kansas City

TAMPA BAY over Cincinnati

PHILADELPHIA over Chicago White Sox

MILWAUKEE over Seattle

CHICAGO CUBS over Oakland

Good luck with your baseball wagering this week.

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Steve Makinen
As one of the original founders of StatFox, Steve Makinen has been in the business of sports betting and data analysis for almost 25 years now. In his time in the industry, Steve has worked in a variety of capacities on both sides of the betting counter, from his early days of developing the StatFox business, to almost a decade of oddsmaking consulting for one of the world's leading sportsbooks, to his last seven years as Point Spread Weekly and Analytics Director with VSiN. Steve has always believed that number crunching and handicapping through foundational trends and systems is the secret to success and he shares this data with VSiN readers on a daily basis for all of the major sports.