Exploiting Letdowns and Lookaheads in Baseball
Wayne Root: Exploiting Letdowns and Lookaheads in Baseball
We may just have seen the biggest upset in baseball history! There were TWO rainouts in Southern California on the same day!! Both the San Diego Padres (Sunday afternoon) and Los Angeles Angels (Sunday night) had to postpone home games because of bad weather. Who says it never rains in Southern California?
The news headlines grabbed by that fluke of nature helped obscure what was actually a really big upset in Major League Baseball this past weekend. What had been the hottest team in baseball...the Pittsburgh Pirates...were SWEPT in a three-game series by the last place Milwaukee Brewers. Not defeated one day...but defeated Friday, Saturday, and Sunday by a combined 18-7 score.
How can a team that was 35-13 in its prior 48 games fall apart like that against a last-place team? Well, there were several reasons...including the fact that Pittsburgh started the back of its rotation against a host who had been playing better than its full season record recently. It's not like this was the New England Patriots losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars when you look at the pitching matchups. But, to me the most important factors were:
*Pittsburgh was coming off a HUGE series with the St. Louis Cardinals that had its home city buzzing with electricity. The fact that the Pirates won the finale on national TV right before the All-Star Break only magnified the potential emotional letdown. They had a few days to celebrate, and to be proud of what they had accomplished in the first half of the season.
*Pittsburgh was looking ahead to a high profile week that starts Monday Night against American League leader Kansas City, and finishes with a four-game set against NL East leading Washington. For a team that was thinking of themselves as a World Championship contender...those matchups were very likely to get the juices flowing.
So, we have both a big LETDOWN off the dramatic Cardinals series and a huge LOOKAHEAD to a week of marquee matchups against other World Series contenders. No wonder the Pirates couldn't get up for the last place Brewers!
In many ways, handicapping baseball is different than handicapping football or basketball. But, one of the main similarities that too many sports bettors overlook involves the impact of these LETDOWN or LOOKAHEAD situations. They distract baseball players too. YOU need to take advantage.
It's very easy to plan out possibilities in advance. The full season schedules for each team are easy to find (at the MLB website, at each team's individual website, at ESPN, or at a variety of other reference sites). You already know how the pennant races are shaping up. Just scroll through the remaining schedules to circle high profile series that really matter to each team. Once you do that, the non-circled series are going to be ideal for finding upsets. If you find "sandwich" spots that are surrounded by big matchups on both ends (which Milwaukee exploited this past weekend), they can be pure gold.
What are high profile series?
*Any series for a contender vs. another contender
*Particularly any series vs. a contender who's also a divisional rival
*Any series for a contender vs. a longtime hated rival in other divisions
*Any Interleague series vs. either a rival or a high profile team
Any NL team will get up for the Yankees for example. San Francisco will get up later this week for their matchup with Oakland, even if Oakland is way out of the pennant race this season.
Who are the best DOGS to take against flat favorites?
*Those who are playing better lately than their full-season record
*Those who are throwing their best pitchers
*Those who are playing young and hungry future stars
*Those who see the series as a "rivalry" series regardless of records
*Those who catch a contending opponent on a distracting "getaway" day
Frankly, it's fairly EASY to find great baseball underdogs if you diligently apply today's tips. You won't be THE KING OF UPSETS like WAYNE ALLYN ROOT! But, you'll cash ticket after ticket with great payouts.
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Nobody has more documented upset calls in sports handicapping history than yours truly. I've known for decades that the fundamentals of football handicapping apply very well to Major League Baseball. Don't take the summer off waiting for college and pro football to get here. It's time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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