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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, October 5, 2012 at 10:26 AM

I promised you back during the summer that I’d have ONE more baseball article that would run just before the Major League playoffs and World Series. We were having a great summer…a historic summer honestly in terms of my service performance…and I swore I’d devote at least one additional session amidst the football frenzy to prepare you for the playoffs. Obviously, within our Tuesday/Friday schedule, the time for that article TODAY!

I know how football is king for most everyone studying the coursework here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. I hope all of you will try to supplement your football winnings from this point through the final out of the final game of the World Series with bonus baseball winners.

Here are the most important keys in my view for picking winners in baseball’s postseason:

*Don’t let reactions to how these teams played in the regular season overly influence your perceptions of their championship potential. The playoffs are a whole new ball game. Nobody has to start their #5 pitcher any more. Depth is less of an issue because frontline talent determines who wins so many games. Posting a great record in a weak division may not get you anywhere because the schedule is a killer from here on out for everybody. The regular season isn’t always a proxy for what will happen when elite teams are squaring off against each other. You will be well-served to remember that.

*As you regular readers know, my PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS approach for baseball is heavily influenced by quality pitching. You want to look for starting pitchers who can dominate a game for at least seven innings. You want ace relievers who can slam the door shut in the ninth. It’s been very clear over the years that great pitching beats great hitting in the playoffs. Pitchers control their destiny. Hitters have to hope pitchers make mistakes. Go through every postseason rotation right now and isolate the best starters on each staff. The key stats to look at are:

ERA (be sure to adjust for the influences of their home ballparks)

WHIP (this is walks plus hits allowed per inning)

K-RATE (strikeouts per nine innings, HUGE stat in the postseason)

IP per START (a guy who’s only great for six innings HURTS you in the playoffs)

Those stats will help you find “take” and “go-against” starters.

With the bullpens, you want to focus on K-rates because strikeouts are so important when a game is on the line. Obviously a team with a solid set-up man and a great closer is better than one who only has a closer. Every inning really matters in postseason baseball because the teams are so evenly matched.

*History has also made it clear that home runs play a bigger role in determining postseason success than sequential offense does. There are fewer runs scored, therefore home runs must have a bigger percentage impact. It’s very tough to string together a few singles and doubles vs. playoff caliber pitching. So, be sure you’re looking at the home capabilities of each offense. This isn’t like football where your offensive playmakers are speedsters. In baseball, power scores runs.

*Avoid the tendency to bet “bounce back” spots after a loss unless it’s truly justified by your other handicapping. Far too many casual bettors play gambler’s fallacies in the MLB playoffs, thinking of this as roulette rather than baseball. If there’s a great pitcher on the mound against you throwing unhittable smoke…it doesn’t matter if you’re “due” to win a game. We’ve seen some Wildcard teams go the distance recently. If that’s happening, perceived favorites are obviously stringing together some losses. Handicap each game as it comes based on the proven principals that determine winners and losers.

*Remember that the Over/Under is often the best option in a game rather than a team side. If you have two ace pitchers who can control their destiny…the game is probably a true-coin flip but the Under will offer value. If you have two vulnerable pitchers in a Game Four in good scoring conditions…either offense could blow up but the Over is smart either way. It’s my view that oddsmakers do a slightly worse job on totals in the MLB postseason than they do on team sides. You want to exploit any edge you can find.

I won’t be writing about baseball any more this month because the football schedules are so intense. But, if you’re looking for day-to-day guidance throughout the postseason, you can always purchase my top plays right here at the website with your credit card. Be sure to take care of business early when there are day games. I love it when split sessions allow me to maximize profit by re-investing daytime winnings on a night time play. My full postseason package can also be purchased in conjunction with a seasonal football package.

I’ll be back with you on Tuesday for our next class here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. It will be football only for the next month. But, don’t look now, the start of the NBA season isn’t too far off! I will encourage you once again to print out all of the online coursework so you can create a hands-on textbook you can refer to year-round.  I trust those of you working the hardest have already seen firsthand the value of this information.

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