Best Baseball Handicapping Strategies

Side Selections:

* Line Value – Using a proprietary formula, a range of prices is generated that is believed to represent fair value for a game in baseball handicapping. If the actual betting line falls out of this range than one team is considered to have line value.

* Momentum – Current form is determined for each team. A team is deemed to have either positive or negative momentum in home / away and "all games" situations.

* Proprietary Situational Analysis – For baseball handicapping, this involves checking results for the most recent 3 years where momentum, line value and "live" status correlate. Sometimes this can lead to some counterintuitive results and assists in quantifying value in certain situations. "Live" status reflects to our assessment that an underdog is capable of winning this game.

* Traditional Situational Analysis – This involves checking team stats and records for situations such as home / away, left and right handed starting pitchers, day / night and turf / grass records. Other stats include batting average and runs scored in situations as well as pitcher histories.

* Public Opinion – Overwhelm public opinion, especially in games that have money lines close to even, is also taken into account in baseball handicapping.

Over / Under selections:

* Total Score Line Value – As compared to our Math Model.

* Over / Under Momentum – Recent performance versus the Over / Under line.

* Situational Analysis – This includes checking statistics such as Over / Under records for each team at home / away, day / night, fly ball / groundball pitchers, ballpark specific statistics and umpire records.

* Weather – Wind (strength and direction), temperature and conditions.

Additional thoughts relating handicapping baseball:

However, when you look at baseball's final standings year after year, you will notice that teams are rarely above 66.6% winning percentage and rarely below 33.3%. In 2009 there were no teams in either category. From the 2002 season to date, no team has gone more than 6.66 for the season and only the 2003 Detroit Tigers and the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks won less than 3.33 of their games. In the last 4 seasons only 3 teams won at least.600 of their games. In the last 5 years over 93% of the teams won between 40% and 60% of their games. As it is typical that teams play a 3 game series, this means that over time it is unusual for teams to win more than 2 out of 3 and less than 1 out of 3.

Now clearly the individual matchups are important, but if almost all teams win between 40% and 60% then one really needs to think hard before laying a money line over 1.50. At a 60% win rate on a favorite -1.50 is break even; for example in a sample of 10 decisions, the better wins 6 units (6 x 1) on the winners and he loses 6 units (4 x 1.50) on the losers.

What I take away from this analysis is that my baseball handicapping preference is to never lay more than -1.50 and rarely do I play a dog greater than 1.50.

Lineups, injuries and players resting:

When a key player is taking the day off it is treated as a line moving announcement in the sports handicapping world. I believe these movements tend to be overdone. While it is true that over the course of a season teams will win more games with key players than without them, however our time horizon is only one game. Baseball is a game where 8 or 9 starters (not counting the pitcher) impact the output, thus diluting the effect of one player for one game. Many times the hungry player off the bench will make a contribution. But also consider that a resting star is still eligible to come off the bench and hit that pinch hit home run late in the contest. If however a key player is injured and will be out for an extended period of time this needs to be taken into consideration.

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