The five biggest early-season baseball betting mistakes
It’s a week into the baseball season and already your bankroll has gone from New York Yankees to Oakland A’s. Not even Brad Pitt and the fat guy from Superbad can fix this mess.
Chances are, between Opening Day and this weekend’s slate, you made at least one of the baseball betting mistakes listed below. We talked to some pro handicappers to find the most common errors MLB bettors can make at the start of the year.
Hopefully, you still have a few shekels left to dig yourself out of that hole, like a batter down 0-2 in the count.
Spring got you sprung
For baseball fans – from purists to sabermetric nerds – spring ball is a breath of fresh air after a long, hard winter.
It’s easy to fall in love with the Grapefruit and Cactus League games when you haven’t seen the sun since October. But don’t put any weight in what you see in spring training. It doesn’t matter if an ace pitcher got stung for big runs or if the all-star slugger was swinging a wet noodle. As Bobby Boucher’s dear momma would say, “Spring training results is da devil!”
“Both pitchers and hitters tend to work on refining things during the lengthy exhibition schedule - new stances, pitching mechanics - and as a result, numbers compiled just don't mean a whole lot,” says Covers Expert Sean Murphy. “As far as team records go, you can take those with a grain of salt, as few clubs put much emphasis on winning in March.”
Loading the bases
We get it. You’re excited about baseball season. We could tell by the eye-black you sported on Opening Day – to the office. But that doesn’t mean you should bet every game on the board, from the matinees at Wrigley to the late-night degenerate specials at Petco Park.
Playing too many games isn’t a mistake reserved for the start of the baseball schedule, but it’s a mistake that tends to rear its ugly head in April more than August. Overzealous MLB bettors spreading their money too thin on games they don’t have a solid opinion on can kill a bankroll like an inning-ending double play.
“Baseball, more than any other sport, is a marathon, not a sprint,” says pro capper Ted Sevransky. “It's like a poker tournament. You can't win the thing in the first hour, but you sure can lose it.”
The best practice is to take all your leans for that day’s slate and trim it down like David Ortiz, cutting the fat by dropping picks you’re not completely sold on.
Hey big spender
Like any wager, you want to get the best bang for your buck. And in baseball betting, that means spotting value in the moneylines and being careful when dealing with heavy favorites, especially in April.
“Good teams prove that they’re good over the course of the season, not necessarily in April. Bad teams prove that they're bad over the course of the season, not necessarily in April,” says Sevransky. “Many good teams don't have their confidence and rhythm in good form. Most bad teams haven't thrown in the towel, effort wise, like they'll do in the dog days of summer.”
We don’t want to sound like your father and say “Don’t bet the Yankees or the Phillies at -200”, but you’ll just want to pick your spots and be damn sure you’re correct when taking on a pile of chalk. Nothing turns your pockets inside out faster than losing $200 to win $100 – just ask Angels fans.
Seeing is believing
Are the Red Sox a better team than the Orioles? Yeah, sure. Are they playing better than the O’s right now? Nope. But despite crappy play from good teams, a lot of bettors continue to wager on these clubs, hoping the turnaround is on its way.
Covers Expert Steve Merril points to Boston’s cold starts the last two seasons. It opened 2011 0-6 and has limped out to a 2-5 start this spring, costing Red Sox Nation a wicked-bad 3.30 units heading into Saturday.
“We often see some streaks early in April, especially when teams are struggling,” says Merril. “My point is not to expect good teams or any team to suddenly turn things around until you actually see them win a game or two. Then you can start to back them.”
Hey, see those numbers in the column next to the moneyline? Those are called totals, and they don’t bite. Many baseball bettors make the early mistake of limiting themselves to just sides, forgetting that there is money to be made betting the over/under.
“MLB totals are easier to beat than MLB sides, that's why you don't see dime-line totals – period,” says Sevransky. “Unders begat more unders. Overs begat more overs, as staffs stay fresh or get worn down and lineups find their grooves or stay slumping, often for weeks at a time.”
Sevransky points to the Pirates, who have opened the season 1-6 over/under, and the Rangers, who have played under the number in seven of their eight contests, heading into the weekend.