I love handicapping baseball. I don’t think it is the hardest sport to handicap overall, but it is a unique challenge. In order to succeed at the sport you have to be able to make some adjustments form other sports, and to do some things that you aren’t required to be able to do in other sports. Here are five skills that are unique to success in baseball handicapping:
Endurance – The baseball season is grueling for players, and grueling for handicappers. The regular season alone lasts about 180 days, and there are only three or four days over that whole stretch in which there aren’t any games. On most of those days there are 10 or more games. It rarely lets up, and in June or July it can seem like it will never end. In order to succeed you need to stay interested, and you need to find a way to keep looking at games with a reasonably fresh eye even when they seem a long way from fresh. Because the season is longer than any other and there are so many more games than any other sport it can be far too easy for bettors to give away whatever edge they have by getting slack or unfocused. If you can’t stay focused for as long as you need to then at the very least you need to have the ability to take a break to get refreshed when you need one. Baseball requires you to pick more games per night for more nights than any other sport, and you need to be ready for it.
Ability to quickly adjust outlooks – In basketball or hockey you can form an opinion of a team and be reasonably comfortable that that opinion, if it is a good one, will hold true for a few games. That’s just not the case in baseball. Every game features a new starting pitcher, and that means that each night you have to functionally handicap an entirely different teams each night. Baseball bettors have to have the ability to love a team one night and then hate them the next because of the pitching matchups they offer. No other sport requires you to be so fickle to succeed.
Use of advanced stats – There are more and more advanced stats available in all sports these days, and smart handicappers sped the time understanding these stats and figuring out how they can be useful. The traditional of advanced statistical study is far more advanced in baseball than any other sport, though. That work has shown us what is capable, and also just how useless the traditional and widely quoted stats really are. The more time you spend studying advanced stats – the work of the so-called Sabermetricians – the better you are going to understand the sport, and the better chance you have of coming out on top in the end. It can be very intimidating and frustrating, but the depth of the work is so good and so established that it’s worth the headache.
Speed – In basketball or hockey it is very rare to see 15 games played on the same night – very rare. In baseball it’s the norm. There are 16 games many weeks in the NFL, but you have a whole week to get ready for that. In baseball the lines often aren’t fully available until the morning of the games. That means that a baseball handicapper has to learn to be fast to be effective. he needs to quickly be able to eliminate the games that don’t make sense, and the deal with the ones that do in as short a time as possible. Speed often leads to mistakes, though, so you not only have to be fast but accurate to make it work over the long term.
Value spotting – Value is the most important word in sports betting. It’s never more important to look for value than it is in baseball, though. Some of that is because of the number of games as we have already discussed. More significantly, though, the widespread use of the moneyline is unfamiliar to a lot of bettors who typically focus on basketball or football. When you are betting the moneyline or the runline you are going to go broke if you focus just on what team you think is going to win the game. Instead, you have to be very focused on making sure that the chances of a team winning are better than the odds would suggest they would. That’s a very significant distinction, and one that baseball bettors absolutely have to embrace.