Finding Early Season MLB Dogs
The 2015 Major League Baseball season has started, which means THE KING OF UNDERDOGS is going all out to find the best dogs on the board in betting's most profitable sport.
Early in a season, the simplest approach is to fade the most media-hyped teams. It's not as dramatic as it used to be. But, there's still value, generally speaking, in going against:
The New York Yankees
The Boston Red Sox
Both Los Angeles teams (Dodgers and Angels)
Any OTHER team that spent a lot of money recently
The media and the public tend to devote too much attention to teams with the biggest payrolls. You almost never find real "value" backing any of those teams. The attention is priced into the markets.
Now, I'm not saying that every team listed above is going to fall flat on its face out of the gate. Maybe one will start off red hot. Fine, stop fading them if that's the case! Generally speaking, you'll bet getting at least a few cents on the dollar, and often much more by fading the big money large market teams.
On the other side of the coin, backing small market unheralded teams is often FREE MONEY early in the season because nobody thinks those teams have a chance to shine.
*If they won last year, it had to be luck…and the team will fall back this year
*If they lost last year, then they're going to keep losing
Do you know how many years the Oakland A's were supposed to be a "falling back to earth" team? Even some professional wagerers here in Las Vegas refused to believe that brains and percentages could win in baseball year-after-year. Now, most of the pro bettors are quants who use brains and percentages to beat the oddsmakers.
Unfortunately, some of this "money-ball" impact in the market has reduced the edge we used to have. But, it hasn't completely erased it. You can still make good money by focusing your underdog efforts on small to mid-market teams when lined up against high payroll opponents.
On a day-by-day basis, you want to go against vulnerable pitchers. Probably my single biggest point of focus in early season handicapping is to fade overpriced "name" pitchers. It's usually for the following reasons:
*They're not in regular season form yet
*They're hobbled by a nagging ailment
*They're returning from extended time on the Disabled List
*They're aging and no longer in their prime
*Their specialty is neutralized or an issue against a particular opponent
This is really the bread and butter of dog-based early season handicapping. Which "name" pitchers aren't going to pitch to their career norms that night? It's amazing how often you can get a really good return by fading a pitcher who's likely to be "mortal" in a given matchup because of the issues I described. Star pitchers AREN'T stars when hobbled, when rusty, when facing a lineup that eats what they serve, or when Father Time comes calling and tells them it's time to become a color announcer.
With that in mind, be sure you're spending a lot of time looking at injury reports, and reading team news from around both leagues regarding issues with mechanics or minor ailments. The quants only rule when everyone is playing to their norms. You can still beat this game with an underdog approach by finding when stars aren't going to play like stars.
My final point today will involve backing pitchers that aren't getting much media coverage yet. There are usually a few guys who are the real deal but are priced like nobodies in the early days of their careers. Most in the markets know to look for "phenoms" who throw hard and get a lot of strikeouts in the minor leagues. But, the game has no evolved to reward certain types of "finesse" pitchers who can:
*Get a lot of ground ball outs
*Pitch to the "shift" his team's fielders are employing
*Pitch to the characteristics of his home ballpark
I don't want to list specific pitchers because I'll be using them myself this month and I want to protect the pricing. If you look back to last season, you'll find several examples. Be sure you're reading early April boxscores this year so you can be ahead of the curve with these valuable newcomers to rotations.
There will be nights where guys who are priced as A-plus pitchers will perform like B-minus or C pitchers. There will be nights where generic arms are priced like B-minus or C pitchers but will get results more associated with the top of the rotation. Knowing that by itself will make you money. Finding the spots where that's happening HEAD-TO-HEAD will make you BIG MONEY!
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See you again later this week to talk more baseball (or possibly some NBA). We have a great spring and summer ahead with very busy daily schedules that are sitting right in my wheelhouse. That means it's time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
By Wayne Root:
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