Starter Money is the pitching stat all baseball bettors should know

Apr 3, 2017 |
Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka led all major league hurlers in starter money in 2016 (+$1484) but got off to a tought start in 2017, losing his opener as a -114 favorite.
Photo By - USA Today Images
Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka led all major league hurlers in starter money in 2016 (+$1484) but got off to a tought start in 2017, losing his opener as a -114 favorite.
Photo By - USA Today Images
2016 was a pretty good year, all things considered, for Jake Arrieta.

He got a healthy salary raise, was his team’s Opening Day starter, he earned an All-Star appearance and finished the year with a 18-8 win-loss record and a 3.21 earned run average. He became a World Series winner and helped the Chicago Cubs snap the 108-year championship drought.

From a gambler’s perspective, though, Arrieta’s 2016 campaign was a huge disappointment.

Arrieta’s breakout success in 2015 earned him the Cy Young award, and, even more importantly, the pole position on the Covers MLB starter money board. In 2016, he dropped all the way to No. 253.

The MLB starter money statistics tells gamblers which pitchers are the most profitable to back during a season. The statistic factors not just wins and loses but also the moneyline odds the pitchers see each start.

Because of the Cubs’ winning form and his ace status, Arrieta’s betting value disappeared faster than Tiger Woods’ hairline.

The Cubbies were favored – and in most cases north of -200 – in every one of Arrieta’s 31 starts in 2016. Compare that to 2015 when the right-hander was thought of as a decent middle of the rotation starter. Oddsmakers never set him as a -200 fave until July 25 in the 2015 campaign.

Covers looked into the numbers to try and find out if there are any trends that could help forecast which hurlers will top the money board at the end of the 2017 season. After looking at the data, we discovered some numbers worth noting.

• Don’t back pitchers on bad teams. It sounds simple but those juicy underdog lines can sometimes fool baseball bettors into betting on bad teams when their ace is on the mound. Since 2008 there have been 74 instances of pitchers topping $1000 (+10 units) in a season. Of those 74 cases, only 14 of them belonged to a losing ball club.

• Your hurler must boost his team’s chances of winning by 17 to 23 percent. That means the better the team, the better the pitcher must be. A mediocre side only has to win 65 percent of one starter’s outings for that hurler to likely land on the starter money leaderboard, whereas, a starter must win 75 percent of his appearances for a club playing .600 ball.

Starting pitchers are like stocks – the key is to find ones that will outperform their forecasts. Looking at a sleeper list for fantasy baseball is a good start.
Rookies with high ceilings, young pitchers poised for a breakout year, or veterans with the potential to bounce back from a down year; these are all the markets to buy in.

Here are a few predictions for hurlers who could fall a few of those categories:

Breakout candidate:

Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks

He sounds like a character from Talladega Nights but don’t let his name fool you. Ray has got shake-n-bake stuff as his strikeout totals (218 Ks in 174.1 innings) demonstrate. He was among the worst bets in 2016 and finished -12.33 units.

Bounce-back candidate:

Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays

The young righty was pegged to step into the No. 1 role after David Price bolted for Boston in free agency, but Stroman never found a consistent groove in 2016. He still has the goods and should learn from his mistakes from a year ago. Oddsmakers project the Jays’ season win total at 85.5.
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