Category Archives: foul ball odds

Calculating Foul Ball Odds: More Considerations (UPDATED)


Cleveland-Field-300x224Continuing the discussion about calculating foul ball odds, my research indicates the data reported by ESPN Stats and Info a few years ago (2103 season) was even more erroneous than originally thought. In a Distilled article from that year we learned the odds of catching a 2nd, 3rd and 4th foul ball actually decrease exponentially; in other words, the odds don’t stay the same. Thus, one doesn’t multiply 1000x1000x1000x1000 to get the odds of catching four foul balls at an MLB game. Doing so turns out to be inaccurate math.

We also discovered a foul ball forum where fans were having a discussion about the odds originally reported. Each pointed out that the odds calculated included everyone at the game, but not everyone can catch a foul ball. They rightfully too noted that there are people in fair territory. And this point, as we mentioned in our earlier post, is the crux of the argument. ESPN shouldn’t have posted those stats without double and triple checking them.

What we find interesting about this argument is that so many people base their MLB foul ball odds on averages that simply don’t do the lowly foul ball justice. Nearly every fan wants a foul or homerun ball. But not all of us get one. This is surprising since the odds aren’t all that bad in the grand scheme of things.


Even with all the erroneous or incomplete computations out there a few constants do exist: Lower deck seats get more foul balls. On average there are about 25-30 foul balls HIT into the stands (there are probably another 10 or so tossed into the seats each game by players and ball boys and girls). And Pitcher/Batter matchups matter: Left-handed hitters against right-handed pitchers tend to foul off balls in one direction, while hitting them differently when facing a lefty (and so it goes for the reverse hands)….



Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner –  

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