Variables in MLB when Handicapping

The beauty of baseball is that although every pitchers plate must be 60 feet 6 inches from home plate and the bases must be 90 feet apart, this is where the regulations finish. This article will look at the different variables that play a role in handicapping an MLB match.

Stadium Dimension

As stated above the only thing that is identical between the 32 major league baseball stadiums is the distances between bases and the pitcher’s mound. Grounds can vary from 100-150 feet in distance from the home plate at similar points depending on where you are playing. Grounds can have huge walls such as Fenway Park in Boston, measuring 37 feet 2 inches in height, because of how close the left field fence is to the hitters to make it harder for them to hit it out of the ballpark.

Some ball-parks have their bull-pen in the foul territory, not under the grandstand or outfield bleachers, resulting in a lot more fly outs in that area that would normally be ten or fifteen rows back in other fields. Once again, pitchers with greater fly ball outs, i.e. pitchers that keep the ball up in the zone, will get more outs in these ball parks.

Some fields have huge foul territories, parts of the field that are not within the chalked foul lines but are still “in-play” once the ball comes off the hitters bat, whilst others are very close resulting in the fans being closer to the action. Teams that play in smaller parks are obviously going to be prone to hitting more home runs, scoring more runs in total and pitchers having higher ERA’s. This can be helpful in handicapping totals for over/under runs in a game. Obviously, a team that is playing at home is used to such conditions, but an away team that has a powerful line-up that cannot necessarily show that at home because of a bigger field, will relish the chance to get to the smaller parks.

Playing Surface

It may not seem like a real game changer, but the differences in playing surfaces can mean a great deal. To put it simply, some parks have artificial grass, some have real grass. The speed of the artificial grass is much faster resulting in a lot more ground balls getting through the infield. Look for pitchers that have a high ground-ball out ratio to struggle a little harder than normal in these situations. Likewise, if the game is playing on real grass, after a rain delay or in wet conditions, these ground ball pitchers are worth their weight in gold.


Wind can play a major role in the result of a MLB game. Some games are played indoors where wind has no effect, some are played at grounds with roofs that can be opened or closed, some are played in stadiums with high walls where the wind is protected at one side of the ground and some are played at games where the outfield seating (bleachers) is not as built up. These factors will all determine how the wind will affect a game. Wind blowing predominantly in from the outfield towards the hitters will result in lower scoring games and vice versa for wind blowing out towards the outfield fence.

Vegas and other bookmakers know this obviously, the way to get an edge is in the pitching. Look for pitchers that get a lot of ground ball outs to be dominant when the wind is blowing in, and on the contrary look for pitchers that get a lot of fly-ball outs to struggle when the wind is blowing out. There are plenty of resources to check the wind direction and speed in the area where each game is being played. Some grounds are notorious for having a prevailing wind, look for opportunities when that is not blowing and handicap accordingly.


When assessing a game and the likelihood of total scores, temperature plays a vital role. Games can be played in the same day in Boston in the snow whilst down south in Florida they are inside a heated dome! The warmer the weather, the easier it is to score runs right? Well, most handicappers would say yes. And they would be right. The stats do not lie.

Pitchers in cold weather cannot get a “feel” on the ball as good on colder weather. A look at a random year from the past decade, 2011, according to, shows that games played in temperatures less than 21 degrees Celsius, averaged 7.9 runs pregame whereas games played in temperatures higher than 21 degrees, produced 8.95 runs per game. More than one run per game on average simply on what temperature it is, this is a factor that must be considered.

These are just a few of the basic variables when handicapping a game of baseball. Obviously, how serious a handicapper you are determines how in depth you are. Other factors that can effect outcomes in an MLB match include humidity, elevation above sea level of the ground, umpiring assignments, injuries and depth of rosters and how many innings were played the previous day, just to name a few.

The beauty of MLB, so many variables to find an edge.

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