They say “Better late than never.” For baseball fans and bettors, they have waited with eager anticipation for the long-delayed start of the 2020 season.
After a nearly four-month wait, many of us are chomping at the bit to start betting. While we are all excited to hear the umpire yell “Play Ball,” I feel that this campaign, more than any other in memory, has more traps for us to fall into.
The beginning of any season makes it tough enough to handicap. Trying to figure out which players are in shape, which new additions are meshing with their new teams and also dealing with the inflated prices we have seen on several pitchers and squads usually make the start of the season a bit tougher to figure out. Due to the current health situation, the extended layoff and even limited practices will add to these difficulties.
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Going from 162 regular season games down to just 60 urges me to stress the importance of value and money management. When betting baseball, I always look for value. I don’t care if Sandy Koufax is on the mound pitching for the lineup of the ‘27 Yankees, I try never to bet a favorite above $1.40. The reason being, if I suffer a few losses in a row, I now need four straight winners to get back in the plus column. And betting is always about making money.
I am not saying I never go above that price, but as a general guideline, I try not to. When I start my daily handicapping routine at 3 a.m., I get my pitching report, then look at trends, streaks and past performances among other things. By the time I am done, it’s nearly 9 a.m. And we all know that lines can move quite a bit in a matter of minutes, let alone hours.
This is where the discipline comes into play. These days, we see starting pitchers go off at $2.00, $3.00, and even up to $4.00 favorites. Obviously, there’s a slew of pitchers that will win 15 or more games and several teams that will win 90 or more games (both in a regular 162-game season). But be careful when betting these big favorites. Once again, dropping a $3.00 favorite puts you in a spot where you need to win four straight to get above water.
This brings me to money management. I have preached it for years, money management is more important than wins and losses. The size of your bets and the increase of the denomination depending on the strength of the game is huge.
We all have games we feel stronger about and therefore bet more on them, especially if we are on a hot streak. But this shortened season leaves very little room for error. If you start betting big favorites or making larger wagers and you hit a cold spell, the 60-game season will make it very tough to break even, let alone make money. If you are making money and like a big favorite, by all means, pull that trigger. But, I implore you, this stunted season will be very unforgiving, so tread lightly and pick your spots.
One final thing. There are several new rules that will affect the outcome of these games, both sides and totals. Please make yourself aware of these rule changes, particularly the universal Designated Hitter, which will have a big impact on totals.
If you do this, look for value, and use good money management, this unique campaign will be a profitable one.