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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, April 27, 2015 at 4:00 PM

I’m going to take a break from the NBA Playoffs today because there’s not much new to say about the handful of First Round series still going on. I told you a week ago that early evidence suggested we’d have a lot of one-sided matchups. I’m frankly a little disgusted by how many teams just laid down once they had fallen behind. Toronto was a series favorite and threw in the towel early!

Our next class get-together at the end of the week will talk about handicapping Round Two of the NBA Playoffs. Looking forward to that because we should have some very interesting matchups.

Today, I want to talk about a few of the bad surprises in Major League Baseball. Obviously nobody throws in the towel in April in this sport. Though, Milwaukee’s playing like they might have! But, I have to say that I’m very surprised that a handful of projected powers have gotten off to such slow starts.

*Washington was supposed to be so automatic in the NL East that they didn’t even need to play out the season! Yet, the Nats just got swept this past weekend by lowly Miami to fall to 7-12. I know…long season…plenty of time to get back on track. Just remember that some were calling for a 95-win season for this group. They’d have to go 88-55 the rest of the way to get there. I’m just not seeing the fire I expected from a franchise that was supposed to be mad about underachieving…and excited that Max Scherzer was going to put them over the top.

*The Los Angeles Angels were supposed to be set for a great battle with the improving Seattle Mariners in the AL West. If that didn’t work out…it’s because the Oakland A’s were going to work their annual Moneyball magic and stay in the race with hungry youngsters. None of those teams are over the .500 mark! It’s the stunning Houston Astros who currently lead the division after a big weekend in Oakland. Sure, the Astros were supposed to step up from annual doormat to have a chance at 75 wins. They weren’t supposed to be playing like this out of the gate.

*I should also add in the Cleveland Indians…who were a popular pick to win the AL Central this year (Detroit lost Scherzer and was getting old, while Kansas City was allegedly a one-year fluke according to all the statheads). Instead, the Tribe are 6-11 as we get ready to end the first month of action. Part of that is due to a road-heavy schedule (only 5 home games so far, compared to 12 road games). Good teams handle early season schedule quirks better than Cleveland just did.

In a parity-riddled sport like baseball, sometimes short-term luck can cause very misleading early reads. I don’t want to rule out a New York Mets/Houston Astros world series just yet (wouldn’t THAT be hilarious!). I do think the cream will eventually rise in most of these divisions. Here’s some homework for you:

*Try to determine which early “good” surprises have been legitimate in terms of production and performance. Rule out teams who have a bunch of one-run wins (it’s very hard to win all of those “on purpose.” Rule out teams who have 2-3 players hitting WAY over their heads thus far. Look for consistent performance from players who are pretty much near their career norms. You don’t want to ask lucky teams to keep being lucky. You want to ask legitimately solid teams to keep being solid. Do this for both the hitters and the pitchers on each team. Here’s a hint…there are a few very low ERA’s out there for unheralded pitchers…and there’s just no way that’s going to hold up.

*Try to determine which early “bad” surprises have been flukes created by injuries to key players, bad luck in close games, schedule quirks, or a series of players suddenly hitting way below career norms (the Angels were very much in this boat the last time I checked). You don’t want to ask unlucky teams to keep being unlucky. Some of April’s disappointments could turn out to be May’s superstars. You DO want to ask legitimately bad or shorthanded teams to keep losing. Sometimes the market just misses when backups are helpless, or an old team gets too old to produce (that doesn’t happen in sports handicapping…which is why you see so many successful long term veterans like KELSO STURGEON!)

You can’t handicap luck. But you CAN handicap the future very accurately if you know the role luck has played in recent action. The numbers will take care of themselves over time. The market overreacts often to early fluke results. Students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping need to take advantage.

My best baseball and basketball selections are always available right here at this very website for those of you seeking additional assistance. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.

I’ll return on Thursday with some preliminary guidance for handicapping the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Things will become even more matchup oriented from this point forward as each team tries to find and exploit weak links on their opponent. A lot of you learned in the first round that you just can’t play old stuff like the zig-zag and hope to beat the modern market. Too many teams lacked the heart this year to keep battling once they fell behind!

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your attendance and hard work. See you again next time.

 

Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

 

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