Baseball Injuries

With Oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich


Squares (the Vegas term for losing bettors in the general public) tend to overrate the value of injuries to key players. Sharps (the Vegas term for professional wagerers or Wise Guys) recognize that there is some difference in talent, and tend to bet very quickly on the news.

In short:

  • Sharps assume it's a meaningful, even if relatively minor difference, and they bet injury news quickly figuring any edge pays off over the long haul.
  • Squares assume key injuries are a HUGE difference, and often overbet a line that's already moved after sharp action.

It's funny. Many handicappers and sports fans have a good enough sense of how many "points" a key player is worth in football or basketball. The disagreement between sharps and squares would be whether a guy is worth a half point to 1.5 points (sharps), or 3-5 points (squares). In baseball, our brains have more trouble figuring out how many "cents" a guy is worth on the moneyline.

  • Rookie of the Year Buster Posey just suffered a serious injury for the San Francisco Giants. How much should the moneyline move in Giants' games as a result? Is it something small like 5-10 cents? Is it something major like 30-40 cents?
  • What about a generic lineup player on a generic team? If a shortstop goes out and is replaced by his backup, does it even matter?
  • Let's look at the other end of the spectrum. Let's say Albert Pujols has to miss a couple of weeks for the Cardinals with an injury. What does that do to Vegas moneylines? What SHOULD it do to Vegas moneylines?

If we're talking about a late day pitching change because of an injury scratch, bettors don't have any problem with HUGE changes in the line. Let's say a Cy Young candidate is replaced by a long reliever forced into emergency duty. The Vegas line may switch from -220 down to -130 or so. I've seen bigger adjustments in some extreme cases. Would you do that for a star hitter? Can't imagine that happening, even if Albert Pujols were to be replaced by a minor league first baseman, the Cardinals wouldn't see THAT big an adjustment.

As an oddsmaker, I have an interesting challenge when it comes to baseball injuries. I've told you before that my main job is to make sure my employers take a good position against the public in a game. It's very difficult to "split the action," particularly in baseball. Well, the public doesn't bet much baseball! That means I'm typically trying to protect our money from sharps. In situations similar to what we saw with Posey:

  • I have to adjust immediately in the next game on the assumption that sharps are planning to bet the opponent. They'll assume a drop-off of "x" number of cents. If I don't make any adjustment, they'll bet the other side figuring they have an edge. They probably do. Since I'm in this for the long haul, I need to protect every cent!
  • I have to monitor sharp action to get a read on whether or not I undershot or overshot the mark. If respected money still comes in against the Giants, I probably need to make an additional adjustment the next time San Francisco takes the field. If sharps step in and bet the Giants, I probably overshot the mark myself…perhaps making a move of 8-10 cents when it should only have been 4-5 cents.

Sharps are so respected in Vegas and Reno that I'm not interested in taking a position against them. I need to figure out what they're thinking and neutralize them. If squares were heavily betting baseball, I might make a move of 5-10 cents figuring they'd be betting from the illusion that a star was worth a lot more than that.

My best advice to you is to think conservatively, but think fast! Don't assume an injury is a disaster for a team. Backups are usually better than you think. Stars have less of a per-game impact than you probably think as well. DON'T BET LIKE A SQUARE AND LOAD UP AGAINST A SHORTHANDED TEAM! On the other hand, if you get a sense that the line you're looking at hasn't adjusted to a star's absence (and, you'll have an opportunity to deal with something similar when managers start resting their stars on day games after a night game once we reach the hotter days of summer), act quickly with a value bet at that vulnerable price.

Making smart bets for value is what separates winners from losers in the state of Nevada. That's true whether you're talking about sports betting, poker, or blackjack. Use injury news (or late lineup changes) for value bets rather than big plays, and it will pay off over the long haul.

It will also pay off over the long haul to sign up for my personal service! I have great rates for BASEBALL BEST BETS right now here at the website. You can try things out for a few days with game day releases. Memorial Day Weekend is ideal for that because I'll have something special Saturday, Sunday, and Monday on the diamonds. If you have any questions, call my handicapping office at 1-877-822-2276.

I know how oddsmakers think. I know how sharps think. I know how squares think. And, that's why the best information will always come to you DIRECT FROM NEVADA!


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