Betting MLB Spring Training is right up there with eating that week-old slice of pizza at the back of your fridge and lending your car to that sweet girl with the tramp stamp you met at the bar last night (she said she had to pick up her aunt from the hospital) – not the best idea.
But for those of you dealing with massive intestinal discomfort or the ones describing your 1997 Isuzu Trooper to the local police, you know that sometimes you just can’t help yourself.
If you are going to bet on Cactus and Grapefruit League action this spring, at least follow these guidelines.
Do your homework
Like betting any preseason sport, you have to know what the gameplan is before even thinking of putting your hard-earned coin on the line. Read, read and read some more.
“One advantage that bettors have in these exhibition games is information,” Covers Expert Matt Fargo says. “Similar to NFL preseason games where coaches give out their player rotations and game plans, managers in baseball are very up front on how long starters will be pitching for and what sort of lineups they are going with.”
Listen to what the manager is hoping to accomplish this spring: Is he working in prospects or trying to sure up the rotation? And study up on key players and how they approach spring ball: Do they pace themselves in March or come out swinging? We hate to sound like a public service announcement, but “The more you know…”
The first few games of spring training might as well be a high school science fair. Managers are experimenting with lineups and rotations, mixing this guy with that guy and swapping bodies like he’s rolling out hockey lines. A new managers are working with players for the first time, still getting an idea of how to best use their talents.
Players are also a tough read in the opening slate of exhibition games. Some guys are easing into the action, others are battling for positions, and others are just trying to stay healthy. Keep an ear to the base paths or sit back and watch how a manager is treating the first weeks of spring ball.
Find the right pitching matchups
As Spring Training marches on, starting pitchers take on more and more work. Guys will go at least five innings, giving you a pretty good idea of what to expect from the staff. The best situation is when you have an ace matched up against a No. 4 or No. 5 starter, or a young prospect trying to break into the bigs. Managers aren’t quick to change up pitchers in the spring, even if a guy is getting hammered.
Betting the “better” team
Roster depth and a surplus of talent can go a long way in Spring Training. Since veterans tend to limit themselves in the exhibition slate, knowing who’s behind them is imperative to betting spring baseball.
A talent-loaded lineup can make up for the absence of one or two big bats, while a shallow roster struggles without those elite hitters at the plate. It’s the reason baseball bettors see many of the same clubs excelling spring after spring.
Ride hot teams, fade cold ones
There is almost zero consistency in Spring Training, so when you start to see a pattern – winning or losing – jump on it. Managers couldn’t care less about the results, so don’t expect them to rush to right the ship if their club struggles in the spring. And if a team is winning, the skip must be doing something right and will only tweak minor details.