Last Monday, as Villanova completed their shredding of the tournament field and the last strains of “One Shining Moment” faded away, you could almost feel the collective depression of sports bettors across the land descend like a dark cloud. As they realized that football is five long months away, millions of gamblers took a few tentative steps outside and contemplated a summer filled with yardwork and household maintenance. Depressing, right? What if I told you there was another way? What if I told you that you would have DAILY opportunities to grow that bankroll? That there was more helpful statistical information available on this one sport, than the other Big Three combined. To quote the brilliant Martin Landau’s character, Bob Ryan, in “Entourage;” Is that something you might be interested in?
As savvy sports fans, you may have already guessed the sport I’m talking about. It’s baseball, of course. And before you say it, I know what you’re thinking: “Baseball games are long.” “Baseball is boring.” “The odds are weird.” “Too many massive favorites.” I know all the arguments. But, there’s one you’ve left out. Baseball is PROFITABLE. Bear with me and I’ll give you five reasons why baseball should absolutely be part of your sports betting repertoire.
#1 – Two words. Action, baby! If you like having the opportunity to select from 10-15 contests in order to pick out two or three good plays, baseball is your sport. Unlike football, where you have a maximum of 16 games in the NFL and maybe 40-50 college games per week, baseball gives you 90 games every week. Plus, the regular season in baseball lasts 27 weeks. Compare that with the 17-week NFL schedule and the 13 or 14 weeks of college football, and those extra games really start to add up. More games means more opportunity. More chances to pass on that borderline game. More chances to find that 5-star special. In short, more chances to be profitable.
#2 – Knowledge is power. It’s true in school. It’s true in the boardroom. And it’s especially true at the sportsbook. If you’re at all serious about betting on sports, you wouldn’t dream of putting down a wager on any game when you haven’t had a chance to review all the relevant stats. Stats are what fuels every single successful sports bettor in the world. They are what separates sharps from squares. They are the difference between eating lobster and eating Filet O’ Fish. They are the coin of the realm. And, no sport has more stats than baseball. But not just any stats. Advanced, relevant stats. Simply put, baseball is light-years ahead of any other sport in the keeping and use of advanced stats. Bill James, the father of Sabermetrics, or advanced stats, wrote the first Baseball Almanac in 1977. Most major league baseball teams employ at least one advanced stats person in order to identify tendencies, weaknesses, and adjustments that can be made to maximize the team’s chances of winning. There are so many fantastic places to find this information online, and, with the advent of Pitchf/x in every stadium, stats have never been so accessible.
#3 – Baseball odds are largely driven by one player: The guy who hurls the rock. It’s the reason the Diamondbacks can be a 5/2 favorite against the Giants on Monday, and a 8/5 dog against the same team on Tuesday. Zack Grienke against Matt Cain is a very different matchup than Patrick Corbin versus Madison Bumgarner. Imagine the NBA playoffs where Golden State is an 11-point favorite on Tuesday against the Rockets, and a seven-point dog on Thursday. Not very likely, right? It happens in baseball every day. And many times, when there is a wide variance from game-to-game, there’s an exploitable opportunity. The key is identifying the factors that will give you the ability to find those matchups. And the longer the season goes, the more confident you can be in your assessments.
#4 – Stadiums and weather can be factored in more easily than any other sport. In football, every single field in 100 yards long and 53 1/3 yards wide. (Simmer down, Canadians) In basketball, every court is 94’ x 50’. And so on. Baseball is the only sport where every stadium is different. And it matters. A lot. A ball hit to right-field for a routine out in Kansas City, can be a game-winning three-run homer in New York. And a 420-foot frozen rope dinger in Anaheim, is just a long single in Boston. The key is knowing which side of the plate each batter hits from and their tendencies overlaid with the stadium they’re in. The other similar factor is the weather. Is the Wrigley wind howling in off the lake or is it a nice summer breeze blowing out to left? The difference affects how you bet the game. The bottom line is, correctly calculating the effect of the stadium and the weather gives you more exploitable opportunities throughout the season.
#5 – Shameless plug alert! Here at BangtheBook.com, we have Adam Burke, one of the top guys in the business when it comes to incorporating advanced stats into the sports betting arena. If you haven’t read his “2018 MLB Betting Guide,” you are truly missing out. It is a deep dive into each of the 30 teams, with an emphasis on “real world” applications of advanced stats. As a baseball bettor, it is 228 pages of pure bliss. It’s available on the site. It’s easy to download. And, best of all, it’s free. If you’re thinking about dipping a toe in the waters of betting on baseball, it is a must-read. And his twice-weekly podcast, “The Bettor’s Box,” gives listeners a few real-time picks and the rationale behind each of them.
So, that’s it. I gave you five great reasons to take a swing at baseball wagering. In reality, there’s a lot more. Many serious players have more success at baseball than any other sport. Is it hard? Well, due to the sheer amount of information out there, it takes a little practice identifying what is relevant and what isn’t. It takes some time to find those exploitable situations on a daily basis. But let’s face it. No one ever said being a successful sports bettor was easy. If it were, there’d be a lot fewer people grinding away in their cubicles 45 hours a week. The good news? It CAN be done. Once you learn how to harness the power of the information out there, baseball is a lot more fun. The games become a lot more enjoyable. More exciting. More PROFITABLE. The bad news? The yard may get cut a little bit less, and you may have to hire the next-door-neighbor kid to pull some weeds. Don’t worry, though, you’ll be able to afford it.