Betting on the World Series is one of the best things that baseball bettors get to do each year. If you aren’t careful, though, it can also be a very easy time of year to make costly betting mistakes. The coverage of the World Series is understandably more comprehensive and more intense for the Fall Classic than for any other time of the year, and public interest is more intense than ever as a result. For baseball bettors that means that lines are less predictable, and there is more noise that needs to be blocked out when you are handicapping games. Here’s a look at seven of the bigger mistakes bettors make when betting on the World Series. Needless to say, they are all good things to be aware of and to avoid:
Worrying too much about teams being tired – Every year you can read lots of articles and hear lots of analysts talking about how one team is going to be more tired than the other and how that is going to be a big factor in the series. It’s almost always a topic of conversation. It’s also, for most purposes, total garbage. There are a long list of reasons why that’s the case. Ball teams play 172 games over not many more than 162 days, so they are used to the long haul. The MLB playoffs are intense, but players also get more regular rest than they do in the regular season. Both teams are essentially going through the same thing, and adrenaline will make them forget about their exhaustion and their aches and pains until the series is over. In every case teams have had at least a day off before the series, and often times several more than that. Rest like that is huge for a baseball team. There is a real problem with the lack of rest if it means that the rotation isn’t set and pitchers are forced to go on short rest, but beyond that it is a hugely overrated factor for bettors.
Undervaluing home field – It can be easy to think that the home field doesn’t mean too much – after all, they decide who gets it in the most trivial way in sports. It’s a very significant factor, though – especially if the series is going to go long. In a six or seven game series the teams are well matched, so having home field can be a big deciding factor.
Buying into the hype – The media loves easy storylines, and it will always pick out a few – hot players, iconic players, teams with traditions or streaks, and so on – to focus their pre-series coverage on. Most times those storylines sound far more important than they really are. They can sound really good, though, so it is very important that baseball bettors are thoroughly objective in their analysis, and that they evaluate everything they hear or read to make sure that it really makes sense, and that it will really have a big impact on the outcome of the series, before they act on it.
Assuming streaks will continue – Sometimes players can get impossibly hot or cold in a series. It’s a big mistake to assume that that performance is going to carry over to the next series. In 2011 Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers provided a perfect example. In the ALDS against Tampa Bay Cruz was lousy. He hit just 1-for-15, and looked tentative and frustrated at the plate. He was a total non-factor. You might have assumed that that would carry over to the ALCS against Detroit, and many different media sources speculated just that. In reality, though, Cruz rewrote history. In just six games against Detroit Cruz had six home runs and 13 RBIs – both records – and was the single biggest factor for Texas’ dominance.
Ignoring the impact of the DH – The DH rule is a big factor regardless of where the game is played. In NL parks it means that the AL loses a bat that is likely a solid one for them, and it means that pitchers have to hit – and that MLB managers who aren’t used to dealing with that are forced to make important decisions. In AL parks NL teams get to put another bat in the lineup, but they may not have the ideal bat to use because they have no need for one regularly.
Not considering matchups – When analyzing the series a lot of baseball bettors will focus on which team is better – deeper, more talented, and so on. That doesn’t matter, though – not really. What really matters instead is the matchups. In the regular season you wouldn’t look at the teams and their talent before looking at the matchups – who is pitching, how they stack up against the opposing batters, how the hitters suit the park, and so on. Why, then, would you ignore those things in the playoffs?
Ignoring betting action – Betting action is consistently higher in the World Series than any other time of year, so you need to be more aware than any other time of what impact that action can have. Oddsmakers won’t want to be over-exposed, so they will be very sensitive to what biases the public will have in a series, and they will set their lines in order to minimize risk as much as they can. If as a baseball handicapper you don’t play close attention then you could finding yourself making a bet with far less value than you would like to have.