When the baseball season passes the quarter pole – 40 games played – it is an important milestone for sports bettors. By that time in May we are starting to get a better sense of what we are really dealing with in the season. Hot, fluky starts have cooled off, teams that started off poorly may have turned things around, and the sample size of outings for pitchers and hitters is big enough that we can start to trust trends that are emerging. That means that it is a good time for MLB handicappers to take a step back from daily action, look at what has occurred so far, and determine what that means about what could happen in the future and how best to profit from that future. Here are six questions for baseball bettors to ask at the quarter point of the season to best prepare for profits the rest of the way:
Which teams are fading already? – If a team has played significantly worse for the second 20 games of the season than they did in the first 20 games then it is hard to believe that those first 20 games accurately represented the team’s capablities and what could be expected of them. The record is obviously the biggest indicator of comparative success, but you can also look at things like the number of runs per game they have scored and allowed, and the number of players on a major league team that are performing at or above what could optimistically been expected from them.
Which teams are exceeding expectations? – It’s quite possible that a baseball team is playing well above expectations for the year even if they haven’t shown signs of fading yet. A quick test here is to take the number of wins, multiply them by four, and compare that to the preseason win total posted by the sportsbooks. If the number is well above what was posted then you know that at this point the team is well ahead of their expected pace. When a team is exceeding expectations like this, the focus for bettors needs to be on just one thing – is it sustainable? By looking at how they are winning, how players are performing, who they are beating, and so on you can get a good sense of whether the team is just better than the oddsmakers thought, or if they are likely to come back down to earth at some point. If you can be accurate in your assessment here then you stand a chance to make some very nice profits.
Which teams are below expectations? – This is obviously the opposite of the last point, and you can use the same method as a shortcut to spot MLB teams that fit into this category. Once you have spotted those teams you need to look at how they are losing, what has caused their issues, how they are playing recently, and whether you expect them to improve their performance going forward. It is very possible for a team to struggle through 40 games and then turn things around completely, but that obviously doesn’t happen in every case. The better the sense you have of how a team might fare down the road, the better your bottom line is going to be.
How are teams treating bettors? – A lot of baseball bettors make the mistake of focusing on the records of teams in the standings when evaluating them. What really matters for bettors, though, is not how often they win, but how well they pay when they do win. It’s very easy for an average team to far outperform an strong team from a betting perspective if the strong team is a public favorite while the average team flies under the radar and is often an underdog when it does win. By looking at how major league teams have performed on the season from a betting perspective you can get a better sense of where the opportunities are and what you might look to avoid. You should also take the opportunity to look at how different teams have performed when you have bet on them. Most bettors have some biases that they may not even be aware of. If you find that you have frequently bet on a team, but are losing money on that team, then it is time to evaluate why you bet on them so often, and if you can make an adjustment to improve your ongoing results.
What warning signs are there? – The more familiar you are with MLB baseball the more you will be able to spot things that just don’t seem quite right. A team could be playing and performing well, but something could stand out as potentially not sustainable. For example, if a team is off to a hot start but has won a large percentage of their one run games then they have been lucky, and that luck could not be with them as much down the road. If they start losing more one run games than they have been then their record could suffer accordingly. The more of these potential problems you can find, the more chances you have to find a situation to capitalize on down the road.
What is the public likely to have wrong? – The betting public enthusiastically tends to be attracted to some baseball teams and situations even if they don’t really make a lot of sense from a betting perspective. For example, they will be drawn to a slugger who is off to a red hot start, or a pitcher who seems to be unhittable. If a team is off to a torrid start they are likely to jump on the bandwagon, while a slow start can damn a team in the public eyes. Once you spot a number of situations that the public is likely to have a strong opinion about one way or the other then the task becomes to determine whether the public is likely to overreact to the situation. If they are then there is the potential for attractive value for astute MLB bettors.