Setup and Launch The software is ready to use and does not need to be installed. Depending on your Excel security settings you might be asked to enable macros the first time the file (the_handicapper.xlsm) is opened. The first time you open the file you will be asked to install the simulation engine (simengine.xlam). Once the file is opened The Handicapper is launched by clicking the Launch-button in the ribbon.
Data Update A data update with game and player stats from the most recent MLB match-day is usually ready a few hours after the last match has finished. The data update is done by pressing the Update Data- button in the menu bar of The Handicapper.
Simulation Algorithm The heart and soul of the software is a simulation algorithm, which uses dynamic player data and statistics to calculate probabilities for different outcomes. The Algorithm plays through every match-up between the pitcher and batter (plate appearance) and every event on the base-paths. Each time a hitter and pitcher face each other unique probabilities are generated for each possible outcome based on projections, which takes into account both offensive- and defensive abilities. The possible outcomes are:
1B (single), 2B (double), 3B (triple), HR (home run), BB (bases on balls/walk), IBB (intentional bases on balls), HBP (hit by pitch), K (strikeout), GO/FO (groundout/flyout), SB (stolen base) and CS (caught stealing).
The probabilities are calculated using a modified Log5-formula*.
Park factors are used to adjust the stats, because every ballpark has its own characteristics. For example San Francisco Giants AT&T Park is a pitcher friendly ballpark and the Colorado Rockies Coors Field a hitter friendly ballpark. The differences stem from the weather conditions and the size and form of the field.
The result of the simulation is a score-matrix, from which the probabilities for home and away victories and different results can be read.
Schedule & Odds The Schedule for the 2015 MLB season comes with The Handicapper and is updated with daily data updates if there is changes made to it. You can switch between game dates by selecting a date under the SELECT DATE-label and by pressing the UPDATE- button. Odds are obtained from Pinnacle Sports and they can be updated by pressing the UPDATE ODDS- button.
Starting Pitchers The starting pitchers are obtained from Pinnacle Sports along with the odds. You can reset (refresh) the starting pitchers by ticking the Starting Pitchers box and pressing the RESET- button. If the name of the starting pitcher is misspelled by Pinnacle Sports (this happens sometimes) or can't be found in the database of The Handicapper there will be a generic starting pitcher for this team (eg. NYY pitcher). You can simulate a game with generic pitcher (the value of a generic pitcher is replacement level**) or manually replace the pitcher by selecting any pitcher from the drop-down menu and pressing the button with the blue >> sign. If the handness of the new pitcher is different from the handness of the replaced pitcher, the lineup for the opposing team might change. Current season stats (park adjusted) are shown for the pitcher.
Lineups The Handicapper uses lineups from the most recent game against a same handed pitcher as the current opposing pitcher. Lineups can be manually modified by selecting the player you want to replace from the lineup, the replacement player from the roster and pressing the button with the blue <> sign. Current season stats (park adjusted) are shown for each player. You can reset lineups by ticking the Starting Pitchers box and pressing the RESET- button. If you double-click on any player in the lineup his probabilities for possible outcomes (1B, 2B, 3B, HR, BB and SO) against the opposing starting pitcher for the current game is shown.
Simulate You can choose to simulate just one game or all scheduled games. In-game simulation is not available in this version of The Handicapper. Start the simulation by pressing the SIMULATE-button (baseball). You can choose the number of simulations and whether you want to create a HTML-page of the simulation results from the SETTINGS-menu. At least 10,000 simulations is recommended for reliable results. Depending on the computer 10,000 simulations should take from 15 to 45 seconds to run.
Simulation Results The simulation results shows the average runs and probability of win (Moneyline) for both teams. If Runline- (+1.5 and -1.5 runs) and Totals lines are available (published by Pinnacle Sports) these probabilities are also calculated and presented. Sim Conf. (a number between 0 and 4) tells how accurate the simulation result is. The number is determined by how much data there is available for selected lineups and starting pitchers. Alternative Runline- and Total- lines are also generated.
Expected Value If betting lines are available (published by Pinnacle Sports) expected value is calculated for each bet type (ML, RL and Totals). The formula for expected value is:
EV = odds / (1 / probability)
An EV over 1.00 means that there is value on the bet. The EV for a bet is highlighted with blue color when it is over the EV-limit. You can adjust the EV-limit in the SETTINGS-menu.
Add Picks If betting lines are available (published by Pinnacle Sports) it is possible to make selections by ticking the boxes in the Schedule & Odds menu and pressing the ADD PICKS- button. All selected picks will be added and they can be found in the SELECTIONS-menu.
Select View The panel on the right shows either Matchup information for a selected game, Selections (selected picks), Settings or Bet History. You can choose between these by pressing the MATCHUP-, SELECTIONS-, SETTINGS- or BET HISTORY button.
MATCHUP The MATCHUP-view includes some descriptive stats for the selected game. Temperature- and wind information is updated with the daily data update. Park Factor compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road. A number greater than 100 indicates that the ballpark is batter friendly and a number less than 100 that the ballpark is pitcher friendly. Stats from last five games of current season is shown for starting pitchers.
SELECTIONS When a pick is submitted (Add Picks) the current odds from Pinnacle Sports is used. Odds and Bet Size for each individual selection can be modified. The HTML-button creates an HTML-page of the Selections. Selections can be removed by first selecting one (or several) selection(s) and then pressing the DELETE-buttton. Hold down SHIFT or CTRL to make multiple selections at once.
SETTINGS Some settings are adjustable to give the user some options in the simulation process. For Current Season Data the user can define how much one plate appearance (PA) or one inning pitched (IP) is worth and to which degree shorter and longer trends are used. These can be adjusted on a scale of min to max, so no specific number can or has to be submitted. For Historical Data 100 % is shared between past three season stats. The degree to which current season- or historical data is used can’t be determined by the user but is rather a function of current season and historical season plate appearances (batters) and innings pitcher (pitchers). Current season stats are weighed more heavily as the season goes on.
BET HISTORY Bet History shows all archived selections. The HTML-button creates an HTML-page of the Selections. Archived selections can be deleted. Hold down SHIFT or CTRL to select multiple selections.
* The Log5 method was first presented by Bill James in the 1981 Bill James Baseball Abstract. The idea is well explained by Dan Levitt: http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/btf/scholars/levitt/articles/batter_pitcher_matchup.htm
** A replacement player performs at "replacement level," which is the level of performance an average team can expect when trying to replace a player at minimal cost, also known as "freely available talent." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_over_replacement_player