I am setting out in this talk about How to Beat MLB Totals but some of the same things that apply here can and should be used to handicap sides. The fact is, I handicap Totals FIRST because it gives me less bias on playing a side by doing so. Often, after discovering how and why runs will be scored, it is then easier to determine who is going to score the most runs, and that verses Line Value can be used to find some good Dogs and Short Favs. But personally, I play probably a 55/45 split on Totals/Sides because it simply is more difficult for Books to set a proper number with Totals.
HOW NOT TO HANDICAP BASEBALLThis particular subject is not going to be a popular one with some people since the majority of those that play this sport do it the same way as everyone else. ERA, WHIP, Pitcher/Batter Stats, Umpires, Trends, 3 Game Pitcher Stats, etc. You know, all of the things that are readily available at all of the Handicapping Sites for us and "The Books" to see. Throughout this season, I will see a lot of people picking games based on the above and others like them. But is this really the best way to win? It is how books want you to handicap. They love it when most everyone comes to the same conclusion about how a game will be played out because it helps them set lines the way they want to. How often do we see "The World" on one game on the card almost every day? A lot. Why? Because of what I just covered. Don't be "The World." "The World" does not win.
I am ducking in and out of here during today with a very busy Monday and I have a lot more to cover so be patient and I will be back..
3* MLB TOTAL GOES FRIDAY
40-20 ON TWITTER PLAYS
Follow Greg Shaker on Twitter: GregShaker
I am a Pregame.com Director of the Boards
BIGGEST MISTAKES HANDICAPPERS MAKEPlease note that this section is based on my opinion and also Clear Facts about what bettors do. It is intended to help you be a Bettor Bettor. Disagreement here in this section will probably be widespread proving once again that I am not perfect..
SAMPLE SIZE: In the industry in which I work a good sample size is used to determine a Handicapper's Worth. However, a lot of Handicappers do NOT use a Good Sample Size to Handicap Games. This is particularly the case with Pitcher/Batter Stats. If Batter A has a .363 Batting Average verses Pitcher A, then that is impressive. However, not so much if he is 4 for 11 against him. Without expounding on this too much, make sure that when utilizing these stats, that there is enough Data to make it worthwhile. The same can be said with Home/Road Pitcher Stats, ERA, WHIP, and a whole host of other handicapping tools. Sometime on paper, things look great, but are they really going to help you win?
3 GAME STATS: As Bettors look for ways to beat the book, they often frequesnt handicapping sites that spit out all kinds of stats. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But it is important to look DEEPER into what you find. A lot of these sites have "3 Game Stats" on starting pitchers. And these are important as to how throwers are trending. But you can't take them as Gospel. A Starter could easily have Poor 3 Game Stats but his last performance, or his last 2 could be very good. It is important to look at those game, figure out what went right, what went wrong. Overall Stats could show an ERA Over 5, but one Under 2, the last 2 games. And depending on other factors, the venue, the teams he faced, a blister, a one pitch snafu that landed 4 runs, etc, he actually could be on his game in the current situation.
The same could be said of a good 3 game stat thrower but his trending could be not so good with K/B Ratio and Hits/Innings Ratio. There are throwers who could be considered mediocre at best, that do very well with certain situations and knowing what those are is more important IMO to what he has done the last 3 times on the mound. The same can be said of Hitters and Teams in general. Go DEEPER into what is displayed and you will benefit.
IGNORING DAY/NITE STATS: Way too important here. Great American Park and AT&T Park are good examples and there are many more. Day games produce more runs and more HR's as well. Especially at Cincy where the HR Ratio is almost 45% Higher for Day Contests. Other good "Day Hitter" Parks include those at Chicago (Both) Boston, St Louis, and LA Angels. There are tons of other examples here but I will cut this short and allow you to find them.
MIDDLE RELIEVERS: Here is one that most people just simply ignore and more important IMO than starters and closers. Middle relievers perform generally in the 5th thru 8th innings and these are by far the most important innings in a contest. They usually come into a game with runners on base. They also usually determine whether a Closer will even get a chance to perform. More importantly, the worth of middle relievers help Managers make Better Decisions. A poor Middle Staff means starters are likely to be Over-Worked during a game, and during a season.
OVER-THINKING SPRING TRAINING: Spring means almost nothing. It is a time to find who can play, who cannot. Teams/Managers have different theories on how to play Spring games. Some squads do split roster games, some do not. Some play more kids, some do not. Some work Pitchers longer, some do not. Spring can tell us about thrower velocity though especially with pitchers off rehab so ignoring everything is not recommended. It should be a time to evaluate players, not team records.
I have a lot more coming but for now back to other things for a while. Stay tuned..
It is time now to get into some Cold Hard Handicapping Techniques now and the first one is below.
THE PARKSThis is a Book in itself but I will try to be brief. Baseball is the only Major Sport of the four where the Park itself is unique. Basketball, Football, Hockey all play on a surface that has the same dimentions but not so with this sport and that means that all parks have to be handicapped separately. Depending on the venue MLB Totals are affected and not recognizing this is a Boo Boo. Not only does each park come with individual dimentions, certain factors throughout the season change the ways parks produce/not produce runs. It should be no surprise to anyone that Lefties throwing at Boston DON'T do very well. Not only because of the Green Monster, but because Boston Taylor Makes their starting lineup to suit the conditions we have here.
The same can be said of Coors Field in Denver, and the Park at Arlington. Not regarding Lefties, but certainly regarding how those teams are built to take advantage of those surroundings. Since 1998 the 2 Most Profitable Baseball Teams from a Betting Standpoint (Money Won) are Colorado and Texas. They are because of the above statement. Incoming teams to these Parks are not always equiped to have matched offensive output as the home teams, and Throwers coming in just plain hate these venue. It is the reason why, when putting my Pitcher Database together, I give Colorado and Texas Pitchers a Break with their stats. The fact is, they are just simply not going to be as good throwing here.
I give Values to each Park and those range from .75 Runs to 1.50 Runs. Right now the lowest Value I have is AT&T Park at .77 Nite and .90 Day and the Highest I have is Rangers Ballpark at 1.42 Nite and 1.5 Day. With all being equal, that is the amount of runs I tack on to each park's Run Production and factored into the overall run production.
However, depending on weather which would include wind direction and Temp, these numbers can go down or up. Afformentioned is the Park in Cincy which has the highest Day/Nite difference. Top 5 Park Run Producers are Texas, Colorado, Boston, Toronto, and Arizona, with honorable mentions to Yankee Stadium and Houston. Lowest 5 Park Run Producers are San Francisco, Tampa, San Diego, Angels Stadium, and Seattle. These Parks rarely change but when they do (ie Coors Field) they do move up or down.
You may not want to be as sophisticated with your rankings, but I would at least get an idea of Park Conditions Overall and more so with those that have retractable roofs. That does matter..
Breaktime again ad back with more stuff including what the numbers mean, 7, 8, 9, 10, Trends, Pitcher Performance and what it means, and Best Situations for Over/Under Plays.
Much busier Monday than anticipated and this thread will continue much later today I hope....
Change of plans again. Travel tomorrow but will be up early Wednesday for the rest of this thread.
Great Article Greg!!! Please make the time to drop some more knowledge!!
I will obie. Left town for a week on vacation and crazy since my return. I will pick this back up probably tomorrow if not sooner..
Looking forward to it!!
Trudging forward as I have a "Break in the Action" this afternoon...
Pitcher PerformanceThis is quite easily another Book but I will try to be brief here. One of the biggest mistakes that handicappers make is NOT looking into the numbers that are spit forth by handicapping sites about how well both starters and relievers are performing. Most throw out 3 Game Stats and most also throw out Pitcher verses Team Stats. But oh boy, these can be misleading. Just because a Guy has Poor 3 Game Stats does not mean he is performing badly. In many cases a Thrower can have a 3 Game ERA of 4.7 but his last 2 games were solid. Just because a Guy has an ERA of over 5 verses a certain team that does not mean that he has not had good success verses that team. Pitchers are weird animals. They do well in certain spots, at certain venues, and off certain performances they either tank the next time out, or they perform very well. Some of this has been covered above so I will stop there.
K/BB Ratios are very important to know and velocity is as well. Often a thrower will have less velocity off a Large Pitch Count Game, and the reverse is true off a low pitch count contest. I know this to be true since I was a pitcher. Maybe that is why I am a Weird Animal. In some cases though this is not true, and depending on the style of thrower, it is not important. I challenge you to spend some time find each pitcher's trends regarding this fact. It will give you a totally different outlook on why a Cy Young Guy can have poor outing, and why Poor Throwers can look like Bob Gibson on occasion.
In doing your research you will find all kinds of stuff that you would have NEVER known not doing so...One of those things for instance is the fact that knuckleballers actually like to see the wind blowing OUT. That makes their ball work better and the same is true with those throwers that throw the split finger fastball, or any other form of throw that drops off the table. I am not saying that these guys like 30 MPH Winds out at Coors Field, but they generally like wind movement into their pitches.
I have more coming but breaking for now..