HANDICAPPING EARLY SEASON BASEBALL BY EVAN ALTEMUS
By: Evan Altemus of VegasTopDogs.com Date: Apr 10, 2009
Handicapping early season baseball requires a slightly different approach from the rest of the season, as well as a unique approach from any other sport. Baseball also has a vast amount of information available, much more than any of the other three major sports. In fact, successful baseball wagering requires bettors to know pitching match-ups, streaks/trends, line-up changes, travel situations, etc. Let’s look at some keys to focus on in the months of April and May.
YOUTHFUL EXUBERANCE – One of the best ways to find excellent value early in the season is to back rookie/young pitchers with quality stuff who are playing at their potential. It took the betting market almost the entire 2007 season to catch up to the true value of San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum. Cincinnati’s Edinson Volquez is an example of a young prospect that began pitching at his potential last year, but bettors and oddsmakers took over two months to fully notice his improved pitching. Noticing these quality young starters early in the season will provide several profitable opportunities, as well as excellent value. Basically don’t be afraid to back a select few young prospects who are pitching well in April.
VETERAN KNOWLEDGE – Veteran pitchers have a wealth of statistics to look at. Most hitters have already seen these veterans, so savvy bettors will look at which line-ups or hitters have historically had success or struggled against them. In addition, some veterans have always started out strong or slow in April and May. Some of these experienced pitchers see their arms wear down as the season progresses, while it takes others a few months to get into a rhythm. Knowing these experienced pitchers trends will allow smart bettors to get numerous betting opportunities in the first two months of the season.
HOT / COLD STARTS – Wouldn’t it have been nice to know Tampa Bay was going to win the AL East at the start of the season? Almost every one of the Rays wins last season in April and May had payouts of -130 or better, including several better than even money. Meanwhile, veteran teams like the New York Yankees have traditionally had slow starts, as their experienced players don’t have a sense of urgency in April and May. These teams are also over-priced due to previous season’s successes. Anaheim, St. Louis, and Philadelphia are three teams to look to fade early this season. They all have either pitching or line-up problems, while also being overvalued because of strong play in previous seasons. Meanwhile, Baltimore and Pittsburgh are two teams that come to mind which started off playing close to .500 baseball or better in previous seasons, before fading significantly as the season wore on. Texas, Toronto, San Francisco, Florida, Oakland, Seattle and Kansas City will provide bettors some excellent value early in the season, with Texas being the biggest bet-on team over the first two months of the year. The Rangers have a very potent line-up, and extensive work has been done on their young pitching staff in the off-season. This team will challenge for a division title or the wildcard.
SPRING TRAINING – Players and teams have very different approaches to spring training, especially pitchers. Some pitchers are working on some things, while others are trying to secure a spot in the rotation. Therefore, spring training results should be used as just another piece of information to add to your decision making but not the sole factor in handicapping. Spring training results are slightly more relevant than preseason football, but not much more. Baseball has more statistics than any other sport, which can either be a huge advantage or significant detriment to bettors. Savvy bettors will do the research and uncover edges all season, while uneducated bettors will just bet large favorites, while failing to make a profit or lose their bankroll. Noticing these early season trends, match-up advantages, and value situations will lead to profitable April and May in baseball.
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