MLB totals to drop this year........


Senior Member
According to a recent memo, MLB is making a change to the Rawlings baseball it uses by "deadening" the ball for the upcoming 2021 season. As MLB explained, each ball has a coefficient of restitution (COR) that measures how bouncy the ball is when it's hit off the bat. In recent years, the COR had increased, which led to a bonanza of home runs. In 2019, an all-time record of 6,776 home runs were hit. We've also seen an uptick in strikeouts and decrease of batted balls in play. This has led many to complain that the game is getting boring and less fun to watch, with every pitch seemingly either a strikeout or home run and nothing in between. This offseason, Theo Epstein stepped down as President of the Cubs and joined MLB to consult "on-field matters." Epstein basically said analytics are ruining the game and changes need to be made to bring back more action.

This change to the baseball itself could be the first step in that process. By decreasing the COR and making the ball less bouncy off the bat, The Athletic projected a decrease of about 5% in total home runs starting this season.

So what does this mean for sports bettors? By decreasing the amount of home runs, it will surely provide a boost for betting unders. The question is, how much?

Keep in mind, the public loves betting overs. After all, it's much more fun to root for hits, homers and runs scored instead of cheering on strikeouts, double-plays and 2-1 games. However, the oddsmakers know this public tendency toward overs and will often shade the line toward the over, making you pay a higher juice. For this reason, unders have historically held more value.

Although we've been dealing with the "juiced ball" in recent years, we saw the under hit at a 50.3% clip in last year's pandemic shortened season. This speaks to the fact that, although home runs have increased, the oddsmakers have adjusted their totals upward. At the beginning of the 2010s, a "normal" total was roughly 8. But nowadays you see mostly 8.5s or 9s. It's rare to ever see a total 7.5 or less, which used to be commonplace. It will be interesting to see if unders get off to a hot start in 2021 due to the cold weather and possibly the fact that books will be slow to adjust to the decrease in home runs.

In other news that will affect baseball betting, the MLB brought back 7-inning doubleheaders and runners on second base to start extra innings, but no DH in the NL. For those keeping track, pitchers and catchers are set to report to spring training in roughly one week (Feb. 17).

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