5 Things to avoid while betting on baseball
As we approach the start of the 2018 MLB Regular Season, it is natural for handicappers and bettors to gather their approaches and prepare various strategies for the upcoming Summer. I previously wrote an article discussing some smart tips in regards to betting on baseball. However, it is equally important that bettors understand which habits can take you a step backwards in terms of optimal betting edges. Today, I will focus on the negatives to make for better research pictures. Here are five things you may generally want to avoid when betting on baseball:
1. Do not be Square
This sounds obvious enough. However, it can be very tempting to take runlines in baseball whenever we see a mismatch. At times, a -1.5 runline makes for a solid play, but in most cases this is just a form of lazy handicapping. Another form of being square is taking a big name team with a big name pitcher with abnormal value for a moneyline. This often spells trouble, and can be indicative of something obscure that the general public does not know.
Counting the playoffs, the Los Angeles Dodgers went 27-5 in games that their Ace Clayton Kershaw pitched in 2017, and a standard bettor would have only profited slightly above a mere six units had they bet on all 32 starts. This number is only over one third of the profit you would have made if you had bet on the Los Angeles Angels on all 20 of Parker Bridwell’s starts, which the Angels did go 17-3 in.
At the end of the day, value matters, and MLB brings out the least surprising results in mismatches due to the excessive amount of games in a baseball season, as discussed in the previous article. If winning 84% of your bets and only profiting six units is not a frustrating endeavor, then I don’t know what is.
Also, how many times have we seen an Ace go up against a Rookie, only to have his team fall slack and take the situation for granted? Far too many. Your Superstar pitcher is only part of the story. The bats still have to be focused.
2. Do not simply go off Batter Vs Pitcher Splits
While I do admire a handicapper’s dedication to apply research into their selections, Batter vs Pitcher splits can be very square in their own nature depending on how we look at them. Over the years, I have seen members in loads of forums listing matchup splits as if they are the bible when it comes to taking a side or total in the MLB.
If we are simply looking at batting averages, then they are merely exploring a microscopic segment of the bigger picture. Some batters have very limited samples of At Bats against particular pitchers, and may have caught them on a bad day, or vice vera, the hitter may have had a bad day themselves at the plate at the time.
Also, as a pitcher goes through his career, many adjustments are made to stay competitive. Pitchers who relied on velocity in their earlier seasons may have evolved their arsenal into a more elaborate one with more developed pitches.
For example, a batter going up against CC Sabathia today would be facing a whole different style of pitcher than when they faced him a decade ago. By no means am I saying that these splits are not important, but it is important that we investigate how and why certain trends are happening, before assuming that a matchup is always going to be par for the averages.
3. Do not Chase
I know a lot of you are thinking, isn’t this Sports Betting 101 in every Sport?
You are right. It is. However, there are nearly 5000 MLB games played in a season, and there are far more opportunities to chase in baseball after a loss. In other sports, you may have to wait until at least the next day, or even the next week to find a new bet within the sport to make up for a loss. This would give bettors more time to control their emotions and make more level headed bets that are not done in the heat of passion.
In baseball, there are four days a week where games are played all day long. If you lose the early afternoon game, there is likely a late afternoon game begging for action. If you lose that one, there is the 7:00 pm slate of games. If you are losing those, there are the 10 pm games.
With baseball being the only sport that is relevant to many North American bettors during a large portion of the Summer, things can get dangerous when we chase. Bets are being made with less and less conscious thinking and analysis, and one meltdown loss can snowball into multiple careless bets made in the same day. Do not get caught up in this flow. This all spills over into my point.
4. Do not fall into the afternoon trap
Speaking of the afternoon games, how many of you have been sitting bored at work or in class, and all of a sudden there is a Chicago Cubs game on TV at 1 pm in the afternoon to your rescue. Betting can become extremely impulsive, and many bettors are tempted by the action. If it was an evening game, you may not even want to bet it with a gun to your head.
However, because it is the only thing keeping you out of boredom in the afternoon, you may feel driven to convince yourself to make a bet or two. This generally does not turn out well, and when it does, it just becomes a false perception of your winning ability.
Stay out of this trap, because in most cases, you may be better off flipping a coin or playing with an online casino. This also applies to isolated Sunday Night games, as they are usually Marquee Primetime Matchups that are just waiting to take money from chasers throughout the day.
5. Do not hold grudges
How many times have you heard someone or yourself say “I am never betting on this team or this pitcher ever again”?
Normally after an epic collapse or lack of visible effort, a lot of spite can arise. There are many undesirable ways to lose a bet in baseball, but I cannot stress this enough: There are 162 games played by each team. No team is going to be in optimal form every night, or every week for that matter. The peaks and valleys are on another level with teams in the MLB. Readjustments are made daily, weekly, and monthly. External factors and even in-game strategic components vary from day to day and time of year.
If your trusted pitcher had a bad game, keep in mind that he is still human. Human in the sense that he is expected to make mistakes, and human in the sense that he is a professional looking to improve on a bad outing. Same concept applies to the coaching, the fielding, and the offense.
If we keep holding grudges against certain teams or players, we will be limiting ourselves through our cognition, and we will end up either missing out on good bets or being steered in patterns where we are one step behind the story. Losses can be frustrating, but let’s keep a level head and not allow one meltdown to change our perceptions for the weeks to come.