MLB Betting Terms
The days of RBI and ERA have shifted to BABIP and wOBA. No sport values statistics quite like Major League Baseball. We know how special a 50 home run season is. We know who’s in the 3,000 hit club. We know how special numbers like 755 and 62 are. But over the years, baseball analysts, bettors and oddsmakers have searched for different ways to quantify what we see on the field.
What unique feature does baseball have that can’t be found in football, soccer or basketball? The dimensions of every playing field are different. Playing at Coors Field in Denver is a lot different than playing at sea level in Oakland. Pitching at windy Wrigley Field is a lot different than pitching in a dome in Miami. The analytics community has introduced new stats to help quantify the performance of all players in their different environments.
Below is a list of some MLB Betting terms that you won’t find on the back of a baseball card, with an explanation of how they work and how they can help you while handicapping baseball.
ISO (Isolated Power) – ISO is a stat that defines the average number of extra bases a player gets during an at-bat. This is a great stat for prop betting. If a player has been cold at the plate, but they have a high ISO, you can find value in going over their total bases prop because when they do get a hit, there’s a higher likelihood of it going for extra bases.
BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) – This metric defines the rate at which a batter gets a hit when they put the ball into the field of play. This is useful for prop betting, as you can get a better gauge on how often a hitter is getting on base when he is putting the bat on the ball.
wOBA (Weighted On Base Average) – Combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighing each of them in proportion to their actual run value. Traditional stats like batting average and on-base percentage give a bunt single the same weight as a triple. wOBA gives more credit to extra-base hits because of the increased likelihood that they will produce runs.
wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) – wRC+ is the most comprehensive way to measure hitting. It takes wOBA and adjusts it for each ballpark, so it paints a clear picture of how a hitter performs, regardless of the environment that they are in.
BsR (Base Running Runs Above Average) – BsR is the number of runs above or below average a player is worth on the base paths. This includes stolen bases, extra bases taken, outs on the bases and more. Because of the new rule changes for the 2023 season (slightly larger bases and limited pick-off attempts for pitchers), base running will see increased importance.
Off (Offensive Runs Above Average) – Number of runs above or below average a player has been worth offensively. This is a great stat to keen in on for total runs prop bets.
WAR (Wins Above Replacement) – Estimates the number of wins a player is worth to his team. This metric defines who truly is the most valuable player(s) on each team. It is a comparison between that player’s performance side-by-side with a league-average player at his position.
Hard-Hit Rate – A couple analytics sites have slightly different definitions of hard-hit rate. Baseball Savant defines a hard-hit ball as one with an exit velocity over 95 miles per hour. Hard-hit rate is used to determine how lucky or unlucky a hitter has been at the plate. Hitter A hits a ball with an exit velocity of 103 miles per hour that finds the gap and he gets a double. Hitter B hits a ball with an exit velocity of 103 miles per hour, but the center fielder makes an amazing diving catch. Hitter A is going to get credit on his batting average and on-base percentage, even though they hit the exact same ball. Hard-hit rate helps give context toward Hitter B’s unlucky out.
xwOBA (Expected Weighted On-Base Average) – The expected on-base average of a player, which is weighted for certain factors like exit velocity, batted balls, and more. This is a great metric to use to gauge a hitter’s performance. The harder you’re hitting the ball, the more likely you’re going to produce extra base hits.
xBA (Expected Batting Average) – Measures the likelihood that a batted ball will become a hit. If a player is hitting .240 but his expected batting average is .278, he’s generating some unlucky outs and should find success shortly. If a player is hitting .282 but his expected batting average is .249, he’s generating some soft base hits and is probably due for some regression at the plate.
FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) – FIP is one of the best metrics for analyzing a pitcher. The statistic estimates a pitcher’s run prevention ability, independent of the performance of their defense. FIP is based on outcomes such as strikeouts, walks, hit-by-pitches and home runs allowed. FIP assumes a pitcher’s ERA by assuming average outcomes on balls in play. Keep an eye out for pitchers that have a high ERA but a low FIP. They are probably pitching better than the box score shows.
xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) – xFIP is similar to FIP, a statistic that estimates a pitcher’s run prevention independent of the performance of their defense. xFIP is based on outcomes that do not involve any defense – strikeouts, walks, hit-by-pitches and fly balls allowed. xFIP uses these stats to approximate an ERA assuming average outcomes and a league average home run per fly ball ratio.
BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) – A statistic that measures how often non-home run batted balls fall for hits.
HR/FB (Home Run to Fly Ball rate) – The ratio of how many home runs are hit against a pitcher for every fly ball they allow. This shows which pitchers allow a lot of fly balls and are more susceptible to allowing home runs.
LOB% (Left on Base Percentage) – Measures the percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base. This is a great stat to see how pitchers do when they are in a jam. It is calculated using a pitcher’s actual hits, walks and runs allowed.
K% (Strikeout Percentage) – How many strikeouts a pitcher averages based on batters faced.
BB% (Walk Percentage) – How many walks a pitcher averages based on the number of batters faced.
K/9 (Strikeouts Per 9 innings) – How many strikeouts a pitcher averages over nine innings. Since starting pitchers often go 6+ innings and relievers only go one inning, this is useful stat to help view all pitchers on the same playing field. This is a great stat to use for strikeout props.
BB/9 (Walks Per 9 Innings) – How many walks a pitcher averages over nine innings. Since starting pitchers often go 6+ innings and relievers only go one inning, this is useful stat to help view all pitchers on the same playing field.