Before we start this article we’d like to make a little disclaimer here that there are a million ways to handicap a baseball game. The particular style of capping that we employ is what works for us and is what we’re going to post here in this article. That’s not to say your way or anybody else’s way is any lesser or doesn’t work. All in all, one thing can be said for sure. If you do your homework baseball is a sport that is easy to beat. It’s time consuming, a grind and surely a marathon, not a sprint, however it’s well worth the time spent.
We’ll start off by saying that you should ALWAYS avoid heavy favorites. I don’t care how easy they look like they are to be a sure winner. One loss and BANG your in a hole. A loser on a -250 game means your upside down 2.5 units and that can take even the most astute baseball handicapper a good week or more to break even on. We’d like to suggest that you look at games from the underdog point of view. Once you get used to it, it actually becomes fun and you’ll never go back to eyeballing the chalky favorites ever again.
The first thing we eyeball when doing our morning handicapping is check the pitching matchups. There’s only so many hours in the day and it’s impossible to fully cap each game so we try to spot value right off the bat by looking for matchups where the underdog pitcher has a legit shot of being able to win the game based on a good to strong pitching performance. With that being said, your going to have to be familiar with the game and know your players and their quality or lack thereof.
Once we have one, two or three games (there’s usually not many games that offer much value) we start picking game one apart. Things we like to look at include the pitchers ERA, WHIP, last few outings, how he has down vs. his opponent historically, a full pitcher vs. hitter statistical viewing to see how the opponents hit him over the course of their careers, how this pitcher does in today’s environment which means how he performs in day/night games and outside/domes, how he does during this time of the year (some guys are strong/slow starters/finishers) and we want to look at the last couple of days boxscores to make sure his teams better middle relievers/setup men/closers aren’t burnt out from overuse.
Furthermore, we want to see how that pitchers ERA and WHIP are at home or on the road, whichever pertains to the current game we’re handicapping. Often times a pitchers stats will show a huge difference in home/away performance (Johan Santana absolutely sick in the Metrodome.) We’ve also seen certain pitchers that dominate certain teams (Example: Roy Oswalt 15-0 career vs. the Reds!) Other things we look for is how the pitcher does vs. right and left handed batters then we try to estimate what the opponent will put on the field against him based on the opponents regulars and/or regular lineup vs. each arm of pitching (vs righty/lefty) You didn’t think this was gonna be quick and easy did you?
We also look at a number of other things that include the following:
What hitters are hitting off our pitcher this year (average.)
How our pitcher reacts to stressful situations. This can be told by looking at what his ERA/WHIP are with runners on and RISP (runners in scoring position.)
If you really wanna get technical you can look up a pitchers ERA/WHIP during certain pitches of the game to try to establish a pattern of when the guy craps out and gets tired. It’s not all that uncommon to find a pitcher who throws a stellar first 5 innings and then runs out of gas in the 6th inning and his stats tank out horribly. We see it all the time and this may either push us out of a bet or we may consider playing a 1st 5 innings wager which almost all baseball sportsbooks offer. Lastly we also may check the latest player news on our pitcher at Rotoworld.com “just in case” we’ve missed something. Believe it or not sometimes if a pitcher is in contract talks or is fighting with management his performance on the field can suffer. A good rule of thumb to go by is where there’s smoke there’s fire. If ANYTHING doesn’t make sense or sticks out too loudly, pass and move on. Sometimes passing on a game is the best pick you’ll make that day.
Im sure your probably wondering by now where you can find all these stats without paying an arm and a leg. You’ll be happy to know that these stats and even more can be found in the Yahoo Baseball Scoreboard Section simply by clicking on a players name in the boxscore or the daily previews.
Ok, enough about handicapping pitchers. Let’s talk about hitters a little bit and no pun intended, but that’s really all there is to talk about. Just a little bit. We want to check out how the team is hitting as a whole over the past few games and also see how each hitter does vs. the pitcher over the course of their career. There are some hitters that flat out torch certain pitchers. Just mention Mike Redmond’s name around Tom Glavine and watch Tommy baseball’s eyes light up with fear. (Redmond, a career backup catcher absolutely owns Glavine and last I heard was 21-40 against him over the course of his career.) You also want to check the box score close to gametime to make sure that all the expected bats are going to be in the game. If you bet the game on the overnight line or early in the day and your lineup is missing some key players, you may consider eating the chalk and buying your bet back.
And be sure to read our award winning article on How to Handicap Baseball.