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Underrated Parts of Baseball Betting

MLB Betting: Underrated Parts of Major League Baseball Betting

By Loot, MLB Baseball Handicapper,

When we wager on Major League Baseball, there are certain things that we look at that will give our teams an edge. A lot of that information falls along the lines of the overly-obvious, things that take no real research or insight. We will take note of things like whether or not a team is at home. Or we’ll gauge the respected caliber of the starting pitchers. Or maybe we’ll do a cursory evaluation of the teams’ lineups. Those things matter, but sometimes we should delve a little more off-the-grid to help us formulate our wagers.

It’s nice to have a team that knows how to manufacture runs. It’s becoming a bit of a lost art, but you can still find it. When betting on teams that rely on power, you are really going to be behind the 8-ball if that team’s power doesn’t surface during the one-game window in which you are betting. If that power isn’t there, that team is not likely to have many other means to help you win your bet. With a team that knows how to move runners, sacrifice, run the bases, execute well-timed hit-and-run plays, and all those less-glamorous parts of the game--you have multiple ways in which you can win. Those teams aren’t bound to one trait, which may or may not surface in a given game.

Keep your eye out for teams that, for example, score more runs than their hit totals would indicate. Look closely when a team scores 4 runs on 3 hits, or something along those lines, on a regular basis. When a team is outhit, yet manages to regularly outscore their opponents, that’s a good sign. Sure, getting 3 hits is a game isn’t terribly promising. What is promising, however, is when a team with cold bats or facing an ace still stands a chance to win despite their offense running cold.

We’ve heard time and again that a great baseball team is a squad that regularly does all the “little things.” They give themselves the best chance to win, even if they’re not exactly knocking the cover off the ball. You see this a lot in the postseason. The teams that managed to get that far usually have really good pitching. That means there will be a lot of games where it’s a pitching battle, with little happening on the offensive side of things. A team that is a little better at manufacturing runs will have a better chance to win those close games you see in the postseason.

We tend to get a little too wrapped up in the closer when gauging a team’s bullpen. The closer is the glamor spot--the guy who gets all the attention. That focus only serves to distract us from all the other pitchers in the bullpen. A closer will appear in far less games than he doesn’t appear. With today’s complete games numbers having completely fallen off a cliff, we’re going to be dealing with other relievers a lot of the time--guys other than the closer.

When we handicap baseball games, we need to look beyond the identity of the closers. We need to go down the pecking order and take account of all the other hurlers we are likely to see make an appearance. Middle relief is very important. One team might have a nice cast of capable middle-relief guys, while their opponent is relying more on a patchwork middle relief scheme, comprised of guys just up from the minors or failed starters past their primes. There can be some wide variance among the different bullpens.

You often hear of the importance of a club having veteran leadership. It’s an item of interest that is easy to neglect. Over a 162-game season, players can start numbing-out to the manager, even the good ones. It’s good to have a guy in there who is a winner and knows how to galvanize a team with a lot of youngsters on it.

Some of you might recall the 1988 Dodgers. Kirk Gibson was never a statistical marvel, but he could get a bunch of guys motivated. In 1988 he was the National League MVP with numbers that wouldn’t even get him in the top 20 most years. But he showed how a veteran player’s effectiveness cannot be simply gauged by stats. Anyone who saw that magical season would never question the importance of having positive veteran leadership in the clubhouse.

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