I hate to admit this, but Vegas has a definitive edge over us. It’s called “Recency Bias,” and sportsbooks are the best-of-the-best at exploiting it.
According to psychologists, “the recency effect is a cognitive bias in which those items, ideas, or arguments that came last are remembered more clearly than those that came first.” (B.E. Turvey, J.L. Freeman, in Encyclopedia of Human Behavior (Second Edition), 2012).
Applied to sports betting, it means we’re more likely to wager on outcomes we recently witnessed to occur again. Sometimes it works. Most times, no.
Take today’s Diamondbacks/Nationals game, for example:
- Last night, the D-Backs stomped the Nats by a final score of 11-2.
- Today’s starting pitching matchup sets the Nats up for a nice bounce back spot.
- Yet the odds for a moneyline bet are priced close to a pick ‘em.
Feeling tempted to back the Diamondbacks to roll again today? I’d be cautious.
- Since 2021, the D-Backs are just 21-33 (38.9%) after a win.
- After winning by a 5+ run margin, they’re 6-10 (37.5%).
- This year, they’re 0-3 after a win.
Conversely, the Washington Nationals are:
- 28-27 (50.9%) in the game after losing by 3+ runs since 2021.
- This year, they’re 3-2 after losing by 3+ runs, and
- 3-0 after losing by 5+ runs.
Taken together, this implies that blindly backing the D-Backs to roll again today would be a bad strategy.
Before making our decision, let’s look at the pitching matchup.
Arizona’s projected starter, Zach Davies, is primarily a Sinker Ball and Change Up pitcher. Last year, he threw one of those two pitches 85.4% of the time. I didn’t think this was possible but through 2 starts in 2022, he’s throwing these pitches even more frequently, with 56.1% being Sinkers and 36.3% Changeups (92.4% combined total, up 7.0% vs. last year).
That pitch mix presents a challenge vs. the Nats, whose projected lineup is decent against both pitches, especially Sinkers:
Next, let’s look at the other side of the equation.
Nationals projected starter, Josh Rogers, is a Left-Handed Pitcher. That presents a challenge for the Diamondbacks, who are literally the worst offense in MLB against Left-Handed Pitching this year, as measured by almost every key performance metric, such as Weighted On Base Average (wOBA) and Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+).
The one exception is Arizona’s 2nd baseman Ketel Marte, who absolutely destroys Left-Handed Pitching. Besides him, I’m not too concerned about Arizona’s lineup today.
Washington let me down several times last year. I remember it like it was yesterday. But if I let that affect my betting decision today — it would mean I’m succumbing to Recency Bias — which I described in my opening paragraph as Vegas’ greatest edge over us. In spirit of setting a good example, I’m putting my hard feelings and bad memories of Nationals let downs behind me and backing them to roll today in a nice bounce back spot.