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Analyzing MLB Preseason Games

MLB Handicapping: Gathering Valuable Information During Spring Training

By Loot, MLB Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

During spring training, we should be updating our perceptions on teams. This is the time of the year where we need to gather the necessary data that will allow us to begin the regular season in a well-prepared way. It’s not easy. Spring training is wide-open, with a ton of players present, split-squads, and teams working on different things. It’s not easy to extract little nuggets of info from this time of year, but analyzing MLB preseason games is surely worth your time.

There are still some things we can look for, items that will let us hit the ground running. You will likely only be able to focus on a few teams. No one has the time to follow every team, but we can try. And one of the areas where we should focus is pitching. Some teams have open spots in the starting rotation. Offseason player moves made it so their rotation is in a state of flux. Unless that team signed some veteran arms in the offseason, they will likely rely on farm talent.

This is good time for bettors to start forming a “book” on different pitchers who are unknown Major League commodities. Sure, only certain conclusions can be drawn by how pitchers fare in spring training games. A lot of the guys they will be facing are players who will end up in the minors anyway.

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At the same time, you can use your know-how to determine if a young starter will be effective or not. Or maybe that he will just have a fast start. Since he is a rookie, the odds won’t be steep against him. As opposed to veterans who might get off to a slow start, a young pitcher who has a legitimate shot to get significant Major League time on the mound will be better-prepared to thrive in the early-going. Spring training is a good time to start scouting for diamond-in-the-rough starters who might make a positive impact.

Look for up-and-coming hitters. A hitter who is getting a lot of playing time in spring training games is getting a hard look by management and just might get a lot of plate appearances. Look at how he handles the opportunity. Some young players are able to kick it into another gear when they’re on the cusp of Major League success. They embrace the opportunity. Other hitters, however, are flummoxed and show themselves as unprepared for the jump to the Majors.

Spring training is not necessarily a time of the year where you want to over-evaluate veteran performance. Veterans hate this time of the season. It’s drudgery for the older guys. They have a 162-game season with a possible postseason that lies ahead. So this is a time of the year to warm up and get those old bones ready for the endless task that awaits.

You might, for example, have an inkling that certain veteran players are getting to that overripe stage. Then you see them struggling during spring training and you may be tempted to use that as fodder to write some of these guys off.  That could be a mistake. Whereas younger and unproven players are expending full effort during this time of year, the older guys might be taking it easy.

Spring training can clue us in to what teams are trying to do. You can sense if an old first baseman is on the outs if the manager is constantly playing a pair of other guys he wants to take a hard look at. A team’s long-term plans can sometimes be sensed during spring training--whether a team is changing its complexion at a couple key positions.

When we use spring training as a period of information-gathering, we need to be careful as to not jump to conclusions. The goal is to just look at different things that could give us a little edge in the awareness category. While other bettors are requiring time to arrive to this new awareness, we are already there, ready to profit off our hard-earned new understanding.

Teams during spring training are working on different things. We have to take what we see with a grain of salt and not take it all to heart. We don’t want to go out of our way, looking for things that aren’t there. We just want to get a few juicy tidbits that will have us prepared to hit the ground running when April comes around.

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