THE BENEFITS OF BETTING ON BASEBALL
Baseball ceased being the ‘National Pastime’ years ago but is still among the most popular sports in North America. For some reason, however, it is a grossly under appreciated sport on US betting sites. Part of the problem is timing—many serious bettors (and some sportsbooks) take a few months off after the end of basketball season and go back to work to get ready for football. The biggest issue in my experience, however, is that casual sports bettors just don’t understand how to bet the sport properly and just how great baseball is for day in/day out ‘grinders’.
LEAVE EMOTION AT THE DOOR
Several generations of casual recreational sports bettors have been mis-educated by the tout industry. I call this fallacy of the ‘big bet’. The tout industry loves selling the ‘big bet’–that’s why there are so many ‘games of the year’, ‘totals of the month’, ‘1000 star special’ and so forth. Touts try to suggest that this is how professional bettors conduct their business. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Professionals live for ‘the grind’. Sure, some might have different money management theories and wager different amounts on different games. But none are betting a thousand times their usual unit size on one game. And that’s great when you’re betting baseball since relatively speaking each individual game may mean less to the teams involved than any other sport.
Every other team sport has a very significant emotional component—teams get ‘up’ for certain opponents, get ‘down’ after a tough loss, go through ‘letdown’ and ‘lookahead’ spots due to intricacies in the schedule, and so forth. In most sports, handicappers spend a good deal of time and effort trying to figure out the emotional state of teams and players. Baseball, meanwhile, is more of a ‘process’ and the best teams understand that the length of the season makes it impossible to put too much emphasis on any one game or opponent.
This is great for the handicapper as we have a sport where we can focus exclusively on handicapping the teams and matchups. It’s nice to not have to play ‘Junior Psychologist’ trying to read the emotional state of a team and base your selections exclusively on the numbers.
VALUE, VALUE, VALUE
The other great thing about baseball being a relatively ‘unemotional’ game is that it helps handicappers focus on the importance of value. Remember, that the task of a successful sports bettor isn’t to ‘pick winners’–it’s to ‘find value’. ‘Picking winners’ is the job of a clairvoyant or fortune teller. ‘Finding value’ can be done with statistical analysis and research. This is a subtle distinction but an essential one—once you learn to focus on finding line value the wins and losses take care of themselves.
Baseball is perfect for this for many of the reasons outlined in the previous section. With so many games it is impossible for teams and players to put too much emphasis on one over another. This allows the handicapper to take the ‘long view’ as well and look for line value. The fact that baseball is a moneyline sport makes it even easier—and particularly for beginning sports bettors. Understanding the value component of pointspreads is an acquired skill but most people can quickly assimilate value concepts with moneylines.
There are a multitude of ways to find value in baseball betting and different ways to apply it. 162 games per year with sides, totals, runlines, half game bets, series bets, etc. and if you’re not finding good betting value in baseball you’re simply not trying hard enough.
PLENTY OF STATISTICAL RESOURCES
There is a significant benefit to finding new ways to understand a sport—or anything else for that matter. The past couple of decades and the growth of the Internet have brought about a wealth of ‘out of the box’ ways to approach evaluating teams and players in every sport. Of course, baseball has been doing this for years. Constantly rethinking the way that statistics reflect the qualitative components of baseball is an actual tradition in the sport. Baseball experts began to re-examine traditional statistics way back in 1980 when Bill James coined the term ‘Sabermetrics’ and defined it as “the search for objective knowledge about baseball”.
James and his progeny might not have the goal of making life better for baseball betting experts but they’ve had that result. What it means is that there are statistics available that measure every aspect of the sport—including some that you’ve likely never thought about. You may have to do the ‘heavy lifting’ to use this statistical research in a betting context but the most difficult part has already been done for you.
Baseball is a very complex game and you can make handicapping the sport as complex as you want. New ways of evaluating the game statistically not only presents opportunities to make more informed selections on traditional side and total bets but also opens the door for new types of handicapping on more ‘modern’ bet formats.