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Baseball Is Back
by Bovada Sportsbook

As a bettor, why is baseball so good? First off, it's on every day. Not just nights like basketball and hockey, but they play games in the middle of the day. There is nothing better than a Wednesday afternoon baseball game to take the edge off a stressful week.

Secondly, where else can you bet with such a low vig? The dime line in baseball has to be the best deal in all of sports wagering. With the house take in the 1% to 2% range, rather than the 4% to 5% range of other sports, baseball moneylines offer a lot of value.

Third, not only do you get the best value when betting, but you also get to impose conditions on your wagers. When you bet on football, your bet goes even if the starting QB for your team breaks an ankle in practice and when betting basketball, you can't get your money back if the starting point guard gets food poisoning an hour before tip-off.

So why do you get lower juice for baseball and the opportunity to specify which pitchers must start for your moneyline bet to have action? Simple, summer is traditionally a quiet time in this industry and sportsbooks want your business so they make baseball as attractive as possible.

The baseball regular season has nearly 10 times as many games as the NFL (2,430 to 256) and is roughly double the number for the NHL or the NBA. All those extra games are extra betting opportunities. Now, let's discuss how to start looking for good betting opportunities.

In Las Vegas at the end of the 2001 baseball regular season, Big Al McMordie discussed baseball with Bodog Sportsbook. He had just finished No. 1 for the season at a major monitoring site and was kind enough to indulge a little bit. "I believe baseball is no different than basketball or football. Each sport offers the opportunity to make money if 1) you have a methodology that wins, and 2) you have the discipline to follow that methodology."

Now, let's get a book manager's opinion. Bodog's top guy, Kent, states that it starts with pitching. "The pitchers are the only individuals involved in every play so you have to make them the biggest factor in determining a game's line. Barry Bonds might be involved in just four at-bats and a couple of plays in the field but Randy Johnson pitches to as many as 40 guys in a single game. It's easy to see where to start the research."

There are two schools of thought when it comes to analyzing a baseball line. One says that pitching is so important in determining the line that to win bets one must also analyze the pitching. Some handicappers/bettors analyze the starters' statistics for recent starts and then look to the bullpens before even looking at offensive numbers. One of Bodog's successful baseball bettors also subscribes to the pitching analysis theory. "When doing your homework the night before, the only thing you can count on is the starting pitcher. Big hitters often get days off with no notice and if you put too much stock into hitting while doing research, you may be disappointed frequently. By using listed pitchers to my advantage, I am rarely surprised in a bad way."

The other school of thought states that because pitching is so analyzed by book managers in determining the line, there is not much you can do to improve upon it. Where you can improve upon the line is in the analysis of the offense. Another handicapper, Bryan Leonard, says: "The linesmaker has already taken into account the starting pitchers. Most value is obtained by looking at offensive statistics. I use an LSLR model (least squares linear regression) to break down a team's offensive stats. That in turn shows me how an overall offense is performing." Perhaps staying awake during that first year stats course would have helped me now.

Both schools of thought make sense, both require discipline and both require good analytical skills. The answer to the question of which is more important ultimately rests in what you are more comfortable with the analysis of. I recommend doing both with pencil and paper and seeing what works best for you. Sparky Anderson once said, "Good pitching beats good hitting," and it is up to you to figure out where the "good pitching" and "good hitting" is.

5Dimes Sportsbook