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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, April 11, 2014 at 3:00 PM

I promised I’d talk baseball with you here in the late-week edition of my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. Perusing the standings this morning made it very clear what I should be talking about. PARITY!

If you look across the standings, particularly in the American League, you see very little that differentiates the best from the rest. In fact, Boston is in last place in the East after getting swept by Milwaukee. But, a 4-6 record is only a game out of first place because three teams are tied at 5-5! Now…the East is playing a lot of games against each other right out of the gate. There will be plenty of time to establish superiority against the other divisions. Losing a home series to Milwaukee is a red flag that the division may be falling back to the pack.

In the post-steroid era, we may end up seeing a lot more parity than you’re used to in Major League Baseball. For many years (more than the powers-that-be would like to admit), it was cheaters dominating non-cheaters. If the game truly has cleaned up, creating what can truly be called an even playing field…then we suddenly have a scale where 90-72 is great, even though it’s only nine wins more than 81-81…and 72-90 is lousy.

 

As handicappers, that means the following:

*Focus on underdogs rather than favorites…because favored teams don’t have the edges they used to in this sport.

*Focus on young and hungry teams because veteran teams are going to hit a wall much earlier than they used to. For decades, individual peak production in baseball was around age 28…with big declines starting around age 32-33. Steroids allowed the best players to delay their declines several seasons…which meant veterans thrived for a lot longer. In a clean game, we’re back to the baseball of the 1970’s. Hey, that’s okay, I was winning big money in this sport back then! Those of you who are younger will see this is a whole new game when it’s just a return to normal.

*Put more weight on THE MOTIVATION FACTOR in day-to-day handicapping rather than PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS. Those are the two themes I emphasize the most here in our coursework. If a clean game is bringing GAMEBREAKERS back to the pack, then it’s THE MOTIVATION FACTOR that will determine many big bets.

 

---go against teams in lookahead or letdown spots around a big rivalry series

---go against teams on getaway days that have established a trend for taking those lightly

---study revenge possibilities in the most intense divisional rivalries (a great sleeper category!)

 

You normally think of THE MOTIVATION FACTOR being very big in football, and sometimes big in basketball. Baseball is often mis-reported as a sport where intangibles don’t matter much.  Let me tell you as an experienced winner in this sport for decades, you will make a lot of money in baseball learning to recognize which teams bring intensity every time they take the field…and which teams are quick to throw in the towel when things start to go south.

 

Homework for this weekend:

*Study the ages of everybody’s starting lineups, so you can find offenses that are likely to have peak seasons on one end, or likely to decline on the other.

*Evaluate home/road splits and strength of schedules to see what’s being “hidden” by a record that’s within a game either way of the .500 mark. Teams who are playing .500 ball with road heavy tough schedules are actually playing well. Teams with those records against soft schedules are about to fall backward when things toughen. It’s April 11 as I write this…try to make common-sense assessments for what records will be on April 30 in a way that shapes your handicapping in the coming days.

*Read the injury reports. That’s not really related to today’s discussion. But, I’m guessing most of you haven’t done that yet! It’s very easy to fall into the habit of scoreboard watching each day. You need to spend more line lineup watching.

If you’d like some help finding the best baseball plays on the board every day, you can always purchase my BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions can be answered by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. This is a great time to get set up for the NBA Playoffs. Combination packages are available for both baseball and basketball through what’s shaping up as a very profitable spring and summer.

Back with you next week to gear up for the NBA Playoffs. There are tried and true strategies that consistently win playoff money. We’ll talk about those well in advance of the first postseason tip. See you next time.

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