Handicapping Baseball can be very taxing indeed and a lot of bettors will fall to the wayside before the season is over. Many already have and the next six weeks or so will prove to be costly to a good portion of of the Baseball Betting Community. It is the perception of most that lines get sharper during the summer months and to some extent that is correct. But is does make a difference in how you define Sharper and it does make a difference in how you react to what we are going to see. Vegas Oddsmakers generally combine two factors to determine what line they are going to post for baseball contests. The number 1 factor is the starting pitcher and by far that is the prImary one in determing who is going to be favored and by how much. The second factor is the strength of the teams competing and the venue at which they will play. They use these line determiners because they know that is how the majority of bettors decide how they are going to bet. Finding a way to shoot around these is the job of a handicapper and gaining the advantage in doing so is why it is imperative to look at the game as a whole and not just with the popular approach.
The Mid Relievers
There is a strong correlation between the strength of a team's Bullpen and how well they do both in the standings, and in the money made playing them. When I talk about the Pens, I am not talking about who has the best closer, although that does come into play. The average starting pitcher rarely gets past the sixth inning. The average closer rarely gets past 2/3 of an inning. The fact is, as the season progresses, the starting thrower becomes less and less important and from about May 20th until the end of the season, starters will average just under 2/3 of an inning less than previous games. That is based on the last 7 years and that is a misconception to many. On average we can expect the guy who throws the first pitch to last about 5.2 innings meaning 1 out short of 6. In addition, we can expect him to leave the game more times than not, with runners in scoring position and usually with less than 2 outs. That is why the mid-line throwers are so important. Here is some info from a selected year.
Top 6 Money Teams of 2006
New York Mets
The Top 5 Bullpens of 2006
New York Mets
These are listed in order as you can see, the Top 5 Bullpen's also comprised the Top 5 Money Teams. The only excpetion was KC who won some huge moneyline plays late in the year. Similar results can be found in previous years. So far this year, of the Top 5 Bullpens, 3 of those teams rank in the Top 5 Moneymakers, with KC at #2, Toronto at #3, and Boston at #5. At this time of the season it is easier to determine who has it, who does not, and who is going to have it. There are enough games to make reasonable betting decisions and managers have enough data to make good one's as well. In most cases, I would rather have a mediocre starter and a good Pen, than the opposite. That works out very well since that is the exact opposite of the way Vegas would like us to think. Certainly a great starting thrower and a good Pen also opens up good runline opps. As the Dog Days of Summer approach this reasoning is going to become more effective and more predicable. The best pitcher in the league can have a bad outing, the worst one can have a good one, bullpens generally remain fairly consistant.
The Mindset of Teams
We are still in a situation where all teams feel that they can compete for the playoffs and that is evidenced by the recent play of the Royals and Rangers. Even though it is obvious to most of us that this is not true, nobody is giving up yet and that does give us some good opps. Every team can still be a pain in the ass to another one. There are many ways to determine when a team is going to go on a run and recent play is one of those and probably the best way. However, deciding how to go about this is sometimes a liability to bettors because many are not working with the right kind of stats. I am going to have a separate article on this subject soon but for now let me just say that looking into stats is better than just taking them as they are presented. I personally throw out the best and worst game over a 7 game span for pitchers, and the best and worst game over a 10 game span for teams. Scoring 45 times over a 10 game span looks impressive but not when 15 were plated in one game. There are certain situations that never change including some throwers not being able to hold their own on the road. LAA's Eric Santana a few years ago is certainly one of those and there are many more.
Now Through the Allstar Break
As we come closer to June 1st, Managers are going to manage more. How many times this year have we seen starting pitchers stay in just a bit too long and cause their team to suffer a loss. That is not going to happen nearly as much as managers and pitching coaches will be quicker to jerk the jerk and they will be able to make better decisions based on their better conception of who can and who can't. That is going to lead to more UNDERS and that is going to lead to more closer games. That is specifically true with teams that have a good mid-line throwing squad and these squads are going be in the money more ties than not. Eventually Vegas will catch up with this fact and I am not saying that they don't already know this, what I am saying is that most bettors do not and they are not going to make their move until they need to. Sportsbooks have been raking money in over the last 7 days because bettors are not reacting to what is going on yet. We are entering the second season now and I will have more about the 3rd and 4th and what to expect coming soon..