Makinen: Updated MLB bullpen performance rankings create more profits

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As much as my MLB Bullpen Rating System has been around and doing very well since I first introduced it on VSiN back in 2018, it seems that the focus on it has increased dramatically as I’ve begun sharing regular updates on it. I do get a little leery of this, as the purpose of the system is not so much to keep track of specific wins and losses, but rather to teach bettors the importance of bullpen performance and how it is reflected in MLB betting success. In my opinion, lines are too reflective of the starting pitchers, when in most cases, the bullpens tend to work at least a third of the game. That leaves a lot of vaIue to be found when analyzing the late-game possibilities. Beyond that, I am of the belief that a solid working bullpen is usually a function of an overall superior team. With this in mind, I’m here to share the updated results from last week and the season overall, as well as this bit of great news. My complete set of MLB Power Ratings will be made available to VSiN subscribers on a daily basis starting Monday evening April 24! You can follow my daily adjustments and keep track of the Bullpen System plays every day for the rest of the season.

Many of you are probably followers of my annual College Football Stability Mismatch System which has produced annual profits every year since I have been with VSiN (and before that as well). Like that methodology, I find my Bullpen System to be fundamentally sound, and thus the reason that it continues to work. 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, and I can agree to a point, as I also like to narrow down my wagers based upon 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.

After posting a couple of in-season updates already, this past week’s results with the strategy produced a record of 58-33 for +10.68 units or an R.O.I. of 11.7%. If you didn’t win 10.68 units or more last week, you should at least consider the merits of bullpen wagering. These were the results by day:

Monday 4/17: 7-3, +2.82 units

Tuesday 4/18: 9-7, +0.44 units

Wednesday 4/19: 13-2, +10.7 units

Thursday 4/20: 4-2, +0.8 units

Friday 4/21: 5-8, -7.65 units

Saturday 4/22: 10-6, -0.62 units

Sunday 4/23: 10-5, +4.19 units

Adding these numbers to the early results I shared last week, the overall season record of this methodology is now 202-121 for +34.39 units, an R.O.I. of 10.6%.

To put this in perspective, over the entire 2022 baseball season, the R.O.I. for this concept was 4.9%. Obviously, it is performing better than usual. I would love to promise you that these results will continue at this level for the rest of the season, but we all know I can’t make that claim. I’m not saying it won’t, just that last week’s specific results show the nature of system betting as a whole. If you were to only have picked this past Wednesday to wager the system, you would be absolutely thrilled. If you chose to sit out on Friday, you’d be nearly equally as happy. This is how it can be with system wagering, ups and downs, but overall, profitable if you stick to the discipline. Of course, over the rest of the season, I plan on digging deeper into the numbers to see if we can narrow down some specifics to help us improve our profits with the methodology. Right off the cuff, I can tell you that I personally get skittish in backing a team where there is significant overpricing in August/September games, regardless of the level of bullpen mismatch.

It should also be noted that the Astros have climbed back to the top of the ratings, followed by the Rays and Yankees. Houston is surging, thanks in part to its bullpen, and comes off a huge week, winning a series at Toronto and then sweeping the Braves. Of course, the Rays have been phenomenal in every part of the game since opening day. The bottom three rated bullpens are currently the White Sox, Royals, and A’s, and those teams are a combined 16-50 for -28.9 units. The Giants ascended from this bottom three list last week but were only 3-4 since. Anyone who took my advice from a week ago and continued to fade the White Sox, Giants, and A’s these past seven days did very well.

Let’s take an updated 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 23rd and I do update them on a daily basis.

Key Bullpen Stats (through games of April 23rd)

Top 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. New York Yankees: 2.44
  2. Texas: 2.61
  3. Tampa Bay: 2.91
  4. New York Mets: 3.09
  5. Baltimore: 3.12

Worst 5 Bullpen ERAs

  1. Oakland: 6.99
  2. Kansas City: 6.51
  3. Chicago White Sox: 6.22
  4. San Francisco: 5.29
  5. Philadelphia: 5.27

Top 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. Texas: 1.01
  2. Tampa Bay: 1.08
  3. Miami: 1.09
  4. Atlanta: 1.12
  5. New York Yankees: 1.13

Worst 5 Bullpen WHIPs

  1. Oakland: 1.67
  2. Chicago White Sox: 1.67
  3. Kansas City: 1.59
  4. Philadelphia: 1.56
  5. Los Angeles Dodgers: 1.51

Top 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. Chicago Cubs: 11.42
  2. St. Louis: 10.91
  3. Chicago White Sox: 10.8
  4. Houston: 10.62
  5. Kansas City: 10.29

Worst 5 Bullpen Ks/9 innings

  1. Oakland: 6.5
  2. Washington: 7.12
  3. Tampa Bay: 7.42
  4. Miami: 7.77
  5. Milwaukee: 7.8

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 case of the top-rated Astros, they were highly rated out of the gate but had some struggles from their bullpen early. They have since rebounded and are going into this week’s play riding tremendous momentum, having allowed just four earned runs in their last 32 innings of work, along with just 17 hits while striking out 39.

Biggest Movers in SM Bullpen Power Ratings since last week Monday, April 17th:

Biggest upward movers (PR points)

  1. Baltimore: +10 points
  2. Detroit: +8, Houston: +8, Philadelphia: +8
  3. Cincinnati: +5, Seattle: +5

Biggest downward movers (PR points)

  1. Oakland: -12 points
  2. Minnesota: -11
  3. San Diego: -9
  4. Kansas City: -8
  5. Milwaukee: -7

Steve’s Current Bullpen Ratings/Ranks

Rank – Team – Bullpen PR

  1. Houston: 20
  2. Tampa Bay: 16
  3. New York Yankees: 15
  4. Seattle: 12
  5. Baltimore: 12
  6. Atlanta: 11
  7. New York Mets: 10
  8. Milwaukee: 10
  9. St. Louis: 10
  10. Cleveland: 10
  11. Texas: 9
  12. Toronto: 7
  13. Minnesota: 7
  14. Boston: 7
  15. Los Angeles Angels: 6
  16. Los Angeles Dodgers: 5
  17. Pittsburgh: 5
  18. San Diego: 4
  19. Chicago Cubs: 2
  20. Miami: 2
  21. Cincinnati: 1
  22. Washington: 1
  23. Philadelphia: 0
  24. Detroit: -2
  25. San Francisco: -8
  26. Colorado: -9
  27. Arizona: -10
  28. Chicago White Sox: -15
  29. Kansas City: -17
  30. Oakland: -28

If you’re wondering why some teams share ratings but not the same ranking number, they are sorted first by bullpen ranking, and then by overall team power rating. As we look at the MLB schedule in the early part of the week, the biggest bullpen mismatches show (all with double-digit margins):

St. Louis over San Francisco

Toronto over Chi White Sox

Los Angeles Angels over Oakland

Cleveland over Colorado

Seattle over Philadelphia

Milwaukee over Detroit

Good luck with your baseball wagering this week