Can you hear it yet?
It’s the sweet sound of a hanging curve being delivered off Giancarlo Stanton’s bat. Or Gerrit Cole’s sweltering fastball coming in around 98 miles per hour, stinging Max Stassi’s catcher mitt.
With pitchers and catchers reporting this week, and sportsbooks gearing up to post their win totals and season proposition lines, I can smell the hot dogs and hear “Take Me Out to The Ballgame” already.
Nobody has to buy me peanuts or Cracker Jack, though, because when it comes to baseball, there is nothing more enticing than handicapping the pitchers and teams every day. Behind a little elbow grease – just be careful of your ulnar collateral ligament when clicking your mouse while doing the research you need – baseball can be the most profitable sport of the four majors, and any other for that matter.
Unlike football and basketball, you can go 50-50 and make money. With plus-prices always in play, a common knowledge of some of the age-old betting systems, and where to apply the appropriate in-season trends you find with specific teams can always help you find value underdogs.
I must admit, I was a little intrigued by some of the proposed rule changes, wondering how a designated hitter in the National League would alter the totals of games. Or how a pitch-clock keeping hurlers disciplined with how much time they had between throwing their heater and change-up could help baserunners advance. And how an extra roster spot might open things up for additional sluggers.
Jay Kornegay, VP of Race and Sports Operations at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, said baseball lines will always revolve around starting pitchers, first and foremost. But in general, the addition of a designated hitter to the National League might have affected certain totals with six to eight more quality at-bats in games involving the senior circuit.
“It was going to affect it anywhere from 20 cents to half a run or maybe a run, pending on the ballpark, the starting pitching and the club itself,” Kornegay said. “You could have a DH in the lineup that bats third, or you can have a DH that bats sixth or seventh. It really depends on the quality of the DH.”
Kornegay said he’s seen plenty of National League teams go to American League ballparks without a quality designated hitter, and it doesn’t do a thing to the line or total. The same would have taken place had the rule changed in time for this season.
He also said he would be in favor of a pitching clock, simply to speed up the game, something the pitchers would have had to adjust to in terms of dealing with runners on base.
With attendance dwindling and work stoppage after the 2021 season looking likely, there’s no telling what could take place down the road. Heck, with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still waiting to fill out their forwarding address cards for the post office, there’s no telling what this season holds.
But I do know we’re a little more than a month away from Opening Day, and for those with an appetite for how teams will do during the season, Kornegay said he and his crew will be putting win totals up on Sunday.
As of Monday, the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox are co-favorites to win the World Series, along with the Houston Astros and New York Yankees at 6-to-1, with the two-time defending National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers right behind the American League trio at 7-1.
The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians – the 2016 World Series participants – are both 10-1 to win the title.
Stanton and Aaron Judge are the co-favorites to win the home run title, both at 8-1, outdistancing Khris Davis, who is 15-1. J.D. Martinez is 18-1, and three are tied at 20-1 – the unsigned Harper, Joey Gallo and Mike Trout.
There are also odds at the Westgate on which pitcher will lead the majors in victories. Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Luis Severino and Max Scherzer are co-favorites at 12-1.
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