Baseball is a great sport to bet on. For bettors who don’t regularly bet on it, though, it can be very intimidating. There are a couple of good reasons for that. Most significantly, you have to bet with the moneyline or runline when most bettors are more familiar with the point spread. There is also the relentlessness of baseball to deal with – 15 games almost every day with no breaks and little time to analyze and process the endless number of statistics that are available. If you can get past the intimidation, though, then it can be a fun and profitable sport to bet on. If you don’t bet the sport and you would like to then here are five solid tips to get you started:
It all starts with the starters – The biggest shift you have to remember when betting on baseball is how much a starting pitcher can change a team. In other sports we are used to viewing teams as essentially the same from week to week or game to game barring injuries or major changes. In baseball, though, a team can be completely different each time based on who is on the mound. A team could be underwhelming one day wit the fifth starter on the mound, and then turn around and be unbeatable the next night when their starter gets the start. You can’t only focus on the starter because there is much more to baseball than that, but but the starters are definitely the most important aspect and the place to start first when you are analyzing a game. The matchup between the two starters will determine the outcome of games more tan any other factor, and the starting pitchers go a long way to determining the kind of day that the offenses are going to have.
Short term form is far more important than long term form – Teams play 162 games per year, so they are obviously going to change significantly – several times – over the course of that many games. Basing your current opinion of a team on what they did months ago, or on the average of their performances over the year, is going to give you a very inaccurate picture of what they are currently capable of. Their overall record and stats can be a starting point to form an opinion, but what they have done in the last five, 10 or 20 games is far more important than what they have done in the last 100 games. The betting public has a tendency to make more sweeping generalizations about teams based on the standings and the headlines, so by getting a more accurate short term picture you can gain an edge over most bettors.
Even terrible teams win 60 games – In baseball you can see some very heavy favorites and some very overwhelming underdogs. Lazy bettors will assume that the heavy favorite is going to cruise to a win and they will bet accordingly. While the heavy favorites are likely dramatically better than the underdogs in the long term it is important to remember that any team can win any game on any given day, and even really, truly bad teams will win a bunch of games over the course of the year. If you are just relying on the odds to tell you which team is better or is going to win then you are going to be in trouble.
Look at performance, not reputation – Baseball is a star driven sport, and the public is strongly drawn to the big names and their highlight reel efforts. The problem, though, is that the memories of the greatness of big name players can last much longer than their actually productivity can. If a pitcher, for example, wins a Cy Young with a monstrous year then for the next couple of years the public will view that pitcher as a dominant star. That may not be the case, though, if the pitcher hasn’t maintained his high level of performance. Situations in which a guy is performing well below his reputation are potential goldmines for bettors.
Bullpens will crush your soul – If you are going to bet on baseball then you have to get used to the fact that the bullpen will make you miserable many times. There is nothing more frustrating then seeing your pitcher outperform his opponent just like you expected only to have his efforts ruined by a bad performance from the bullpen. Bullpens are very tough to handicap because you can’t know how much use they will get, who will get the call, how many pitchers will be used, what situation they will come into, and so on. That can be extremely frustrating, but it’s important that you do as much as you can to make sure that the bullpen isn’t a major liability for you. You can do that in a few ways. First, look at the quality of your closer because he is the most likely to see action. Has he been consistent recently, or is he slumping? Next, look at the overall performance of the bullpen. How have they been doing recently? How do they perform at home or on the road? Do they thrive or struggle against a particular type of team? Is this opponent that type of team?