Searching for Favorable MLB Betting Situations

It is the bottom of the 7th. The New York Yankees superstar outfield is looking very disoriented, red eyed, and pretty much boggling every other routine pop up. The team is down 3-1. The only person that played well today is Starting Pitcher James Paxton. How can this be? The Yankees are so much better than the Rangers. The Rangers brought their number five pitcher, who they just called up from the Nashville Sounds. The Yankees have the deadliest offense in baseball. What is going on?

By simple statistical logic, yes New York should have won that one easily. However, coming off a Sunday nighter and having to endure overnight travel? things may be a little different.

Let’s be real. If it were that obvious, we would all be millionaires by taking the better teams. Whether you go off advanced stats or convincing trends, there is enough information out there for the general public to cash in if it were that easy.

Numbers Only Tell Part of the Story

The truth is, numbers only tell part of the story. Situations can play a larger factor in the way any given game plays out.

The reason the New York Yankees are struggling with the lowly Texas Rangers in the example above, could be a result of far more external factors than we know. Travel and fatigue may be huge contributors to their disorientation. Time Zone differences, lack of rested personnel, weather and altitude differences, and opponent situational factors could all also play roles in making this a less favorable spot to take the high and mighty bombers from the Bronx.

While the above may be one of the more extreme examples of how situations can play crucial roles in the outcome of games, the typical day to day handicapping process usually involves situational factors that are far more subtle.

For example, something that may go unobserved is the fact that a starting pitcher who throws mainly sinkers and curveballs is more likely going to excel in a sea level altitude under moderate climate conditions. A lot of west coast pitchers have been coached into using the sinker pitch as their primary pitch, with a secondary pitch being the curveball. When this pitcher tries his uniquely crafted curveball in Colorado, where the altitude is a mile high, it can have a less desired delivery in terms of location. Therefore, a well known Ace may not be as Ace-like in Coors Field.  Let’s use a real life example here.

As usual, I tend to find a lot of comparable instances with perennial Ace of the 2010s Clayton Kershaw. In the past four seasons (and well before that) the Los Angeles Dodgers lefty has been able to maintain a season average ERA of slightly above 2.00, which would suggest that he can consistently pitch quality starts as far as the public eye can see.

With a pitcher that hardly relies on velocity and places a lot of faith in his magnificent curveball, it may be quite apparent that he is capable of getting outs with ease. Now let us look at his last six starts in Colorado. The incredible Clayton Kershaw has a 6.72 ERA through 24.2 innings of work. Although these statistics can easily be discovered, understand that it is the situation of altitude and familiarity of the Rockies lineup that has resulted in Kershaws extremely poor performances in Denver. Performances that have led to early exits as well as losses.

While the above is just one example of how various circumstances can affect outcomes, keep in mind that there are many more out there that come in all different shapes and forms. The point of this article was to emphasize that things are not constant in baseball nor in any sport for that matter.

These examples are not to say that we will ever know everything leading up to a certain matchup, but they are presented to challenge handicappers to look at the bigger picture. This all goes far beyond caliber and power rankings. This goes far beyond what is generally known. This requires digging deep into statistics. We may know that certain trends are suggesting certain outcomes, but it is important to know why they are happening. There needs to be an ability to differentiate between coincidence and something far more suggestive.

We are never going to know all the situations, nor are we even going to know as much about them as oddsmakers. The other mistake would be to assume situations, and base them all on existing theories. What is important, however, is that we take an expansive approach to handicapping and that we respect the line creations in full awareness of the unknown.

What are some other significant factors that can contribute to outcomes, based on situational research? Subscribe to our MLB Premium packages to find out throughout the season.


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