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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, June 16, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Time to focus on baseball (and football) now that basketball is finished for the season. Congratulations to the San Antonio Spurs for their fantastic championship run…and for reminding everyone what team basketball looks like. It was like a throwback to my youth watching all the great passing and cutting from a team that really understood the nuances of basketball offense.

Today I’ll talk about an important nuance of baseball handicapping. It’s very easy for casual handicappers to look over “season-to-date” stats for teams or individual players and make poor decisions. What happened in April doesn’t matter that much any more. And, in fact, the middle of June through the middle of July generally signals the beginning of huge divergences.

*Some quality teams are about to get red hot, the way the Los Angeles Dodgers did last year. Well, maybe not THAT hot. But hot enough to make you a lot of money if you recognize the surge before others in the market do.

*Some mediocre (or worse) teams are about to throw in the towel and fall off the map. Their best players will be mentioned in trade talks. Local media will talk about managers getting fired or veterans getting benched. The mood will sour, and a collapse will happen much faster than oddsmakers can price for it.

A team that’s 35-35 after 70 games could well go 40-20 over the next two months. Possibly better! A team that’s 30-40 after 70 games could go 20-40 over the next two months, or even worse. Here are some things you can do TODAY to make sure you’re in the right frame of mind for recognizing developing stories as they break.

*Look at won-lost records over the last 20 and last 30 games rather than the full season. Those are available on the expanded standings pages at baseball-reference. You want to handicap right now based on recent form. And, you want to use your knowledge of recent form to properly anticipate big winning or losing runs.

*Read local online media for all teams who are below .500. That’s a manageable number of teams right now. You can scan their local papers in about 30 minutes. Look for rumblings about trades or firings. Assume those teams are about to go into even bigger tailspins than they’re already in.

*Make a list of any non-divisional leaders who are doing well over the last 10-20 games…and see if you can figure out what’s going right. Did they just get healthy after dealing with some injuries? Did they just start hitting after a long slump? Did they make a lineup change that solved a problem that had been nagging them in the first two months? It’s often the second and third place teams that sustain big runs because they were so mad about falling off the pace out of the gate. Somebody like Milwaukee or San Francisco may relax because of their big leads. It’s that next rung of teams that will offer the most value if they get hot.

*Start paying attention to home/road splits. Teams going in the tank will often have disastrous road trips where they’re blown out night after night. Hot teams will often exploit long homestands, particularly against mid-level teams or worse. This will put you on a high number of favorites. But, history makes it clear that we’re talking about -120 of -130 favorites who should be -170 or -180…or even -150 or -160 favorites who should be -200 or higher. Handle with caution…but don’t be afraid to handle!

Many longtime Vegas betters love baseball betting because it allows you to make money seven days a week through the summer. Football and basketball guys have almost nothing to do but homework between now and late August (if they don’t bet the NFL Preseason). If you have baseball in your arsenal, you can make a killing all summer…then use those winnings to score even bigger when football arrives.

If you’d like some help making the most of the summer of 2014, 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. Call 1-888-777-4155 with queries. Be sure to ask about Early-bird packages for college and pro football when you call…or about baseball/football combination packages.

I’m sorry to see basketball end. But, Las Vegas sports betting never ends! At the very least, you should be gearing up for football by researching online and those newsstand preview publications. I’ll be talking more about that in the very near future (possibly as soon as this weekend). The Dean of Sports Handicapping appreciates your hard work, and hopes you’ll apply smart strategies that you’ve learned here in the coursework to your baseball attack. See you again later this week.

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