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The Power of Changing Your Opinions Constantly

MLB Betting: The Power of Changing Your Opinions Constantly

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

In the big leagues, we're dealing with the best players and teams in the world. Even so, they will go through many different phases throughout the season. It heightens the importance of staying flexible as bettors. Players and teams can get better and worse as the season wears on. It's a long campaign and what was true last month may no longer be the case.

Players can suddenly turn into different guys. You might think you have a read on a player. You categorize him and etch it in concrete in your mind. That doesn't always work well. Sure, players get to the point in their careers where they are what they are. But with the amount of young and still-developing players in the league, it's important to remain receptive to when things change.

A player can turn the corner really quickly. A decent hitter can start driving the ball more, making him a much bigger threat at the plate. A shortstop who was iffy can start dialing in his fielding. A young pitcher, with added experience, can start hitting his stride. And a lot of these things won't be detectable by merely looking at stats. You have to pay attention.

You might watch a team in April or May a few times and develop opinions on the players. You see a pitcher who doesn't know how to work a count as is throwing fat fastballs with an 0-2 count. A third baseman can handle routine plays, but is dicey when it comes to making a good play with the game close. A young hitter with the bases loaded and one out is making sawdust out of the bat because he's gunning for the grand slam.

You see these things. Then you don't watch that team for a few months and you still think what you saw is still how it is. There are a few problems with that. Obviously, players can improve. Rising red-hot prospects can cool off and level out. Those are the more obvious things. Still, it's important to not lock in our perceptions too tightly, especially with players in their early or mid 20's, where their book has yet to be written.

Another problem with that is that when we make too many evaluations based on seeing a team a few times, we are guilty of over-emphasizing our own personal experiences. A lot of bettors mythologize what it is that they saw personally. It's human. We judge things off of what we see, when there is so much more that we don't see.

If we go to a couple baseball games in a row early in the season, our opinion-forming might go into overdrive. This guy can do that, he can't do this, this guy sucks, the other guy is great. It goes on and on. Remember that this is a long season--162 games. Players are going to have down periods, while others will have times they play much better than they typically do. If we happen to start making concrete evaluations based on observations we made during those quirky periods, we might have a backwards read on reality.


Baseball is fickle. Not much separates good teams from bad ones. So when we see a team playing either very well or poorly, we need to make allowances for the potential of change. Sure, a lot of good teams stay good for most of the season and that applies to struggling teams, as well. Let's say you watch a team play on TV 5 or 6 times and they get crushed every time. It's going to be drilled into your head how bad they are. The key is to not allow that to be a sole guiding light in your mind. At the end of the season, you might look up and see that team won 71 games. While not great, betting against them whenever you had a chance wouldn't really work.

We sometimes fall into the widespread pattern of forming overly-strong opinions. We watch people on TV or in person talking about baseball and everything is stated in very black-and-white terms. We need to resist that as baseball bettors and internalize the fact that most things in MLB are gray. There really are no extremes in a sport where players can change and all teams experience robust amounts of success and failure, no matter how good or bad they are. We need to be flexible and never etch anything in the concrete of our minds.

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