Let's discuss what strategies will help us cash our tickets on the Boys of Summer.
History Does Not Always Repeat Itself
So, a deaf mute walks into a store wanting to buy a toothbrush. By imitating the act of brushing his teeth he signals to an employee to find him a toothbrush. Next, a blind man walks into the same store to buy a pair of sunglasses. How does he indicate what he wants?
If you guessed it had something to do with signing then you are one of the many, but the easy answer was right in front of you...he simply asked. I relay this anecdote to you because we can get so engrossed in a 162-game season that our logic becomes rigid, inflexible and any other synonym you care to use for intractable. We begin basing our opinions on how teams fared against one another in the past without considering injury reports (particularly those who are playing through injuries and not just sidelined), roster changes and pitching depth.
However, the beauty of baseball is the common denominator that is pitching. Some pitchers just feast on certain teams and some routinely get rocked. But before you fade Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw when he takes the bump against the Milwaukee Brewers because someone posted that he had a woeful 7.94 ERA against them last year, please note that he opposed them only once last season.
But when you do find a pitcher with continuous success against certain teams like the Giants' Tim Lincecum trotting out his perfect 5-0 record and stellar 1.13 ERA against the New York Mets over the past three seasons then you might be more inclined to lay the heavy lumber. But before you do, evaluate the Mets roster and make sure there is still some meat on that bone. Be wary of roster changes, particularly in the early part of the season, because the Mets could have acquired a player or two who has had success against Lincecum and suddenly this storybook ending could turn into a cautionary tale at your expense.
In short, do your homework and don't get bogged down in stats from years ago. Professional athletes age quickly. Turning thirty might mean a wet behind the ears kid in the business world but in the rarified air of major league baseball, it's the beginning of the end. This doesn't mean that Albert Pujols will suddenly turn into a Punch-and Judy hitter but it should be noted that his last two years were the first sub .300 seasons of his illustrious career. Pujols is now 33-years of age and keep in mind the career renaissances you've witnessed in the recent past of middle-aged players somehow reclaiming the fountain of youth will diminish precipitously as MLB's drug testing measures and policies become even more stringent.
Pitching Beats Hitting
Don't take my word for it. Just ask any crusty old codger who’s watched more baseball games than you've taken breaths. If you want to win more than you lose, ride the hot hand on a hot team. If you love lots of runs, then find small totals and bet over but if you're prone to playing sides then find out when the best pitchers are dealing and mark those starts as religiously as a stripper circles the days of her menstrual calendar.
Now if you're going to employ this strategy, you're going to be laying some lumber. That's why parlays are such a beautiful thing. Here’s a scenario; let's take for example a two team parlay with the Yankees -185 on the MLB odds boards at 7 PM and backend it with a west coast game that begins at 10:05, where your other big favorite, Oakland is hosting Houston, is laying -205. This little two-teamer will bring you back approximately $130 for every $100 you wager. Now assuming the Yankees click early, if you’re game is arbitrage you can try to middle this by betting the underdog Astros at +1 ½ runs and lay little to no juice. If the A’s beat the Astros by one run, you’ve swept the board. If not, you’ve had a nice ride and lost virtually nothing.
This is just one way to bet your major league baseball picks. Let the games begin!