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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 1:12 PM

The Major League Baseball season officially got underway last week in Tokyo, with a pair of games between Oakland and Seattle that hardly anyone in the world outside of those three cities paid much attention to. You didn’t miss anything. Two non-contenders split boring games when you were asleep.

The rest of the season gets going this week with St. Louis at Miami (formerly Florida) in a Wednesday Night game on ESPN (the annual Sunday Night opener has been moved to Wednesday this year). Everyone else gets under way Thursday and Friday. Seattle and Oakland have until Friday to get over their jeg lag…and they get to play each other anyway.

To make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running, I wanted to outline some of my Advanced Strategies for early season handicapping in this sport. I’ve learned over the years (and, I’ve been out here in Las Vegas for a lot of years!) that oddsmakers are always VERY slow off the mark early in baseball. If you’re ready to go on Opening Day, you’re going to have edges you can exploit all through the month of April.

*First, familiarize yourself with offseason personnel moves. Who got traded? Who signed where as a free agent? Who’s still stuck in the Dominican Republic because they’ve been using a fake name the last several years? This should go without saying. But, I’m constantly amazed at how many bettors forget that a key contributor is no longer in a certain lineup, or has joined another team. They just pick up betting where they left off last year in terms of their opinions of theteams. As a result, they struggle the first few weeks before getting their bearings. Winning handicappers don’t waste time with bad bets! Get your bearings NOW!

*Second look over the Spring Training pitching stats for all rotation starters and closers. Some handicappers will tell you that Spring Training doesn’t mean anything because the games don’t count. Well, I’m not worried about wins and losses. I want to know who’s in good form and who isn’t on the mound. Don’t you look at recent form once the regular season is well underway? If it’s the middle of June, aren’t you looking over recent starts to see how a pitcher is performing? You have to do the same thing in early April. You’ll find a few absolute gems every day because oddsmakers are pricing a game based on what pitchers did last year rather than what they did the past few weeks.

*Third, pay close attention to the weather. Some pitchers are in for stark challenges when they travel from Florida or Arizona up to the Northeast or Midwest to pitch. In some seasons, guys are stuck pitching in very chilly conditions. Maybe that won’t matter this year given the heat wave the country is enduring. Maybe it will never matter again with global warming! Whatever the case, be sure you know forecast temperatures and wind conditions in these opening games. Don’t ask a pitcher who’s struggled through the Spring to pitch well for you in good conditions with the wind blowing out. Look to bet Unders if pitchers in good form are on the mound in tough hitting conditions. (Part of Advanced Handicapping is making edges work for you on both sides AND totals).

*Finally today (there are so many tips I’ll have to spread them out through the month of April), try to get a read on motivation and incentive. Some baseball guys will tell you that those factors are best used in football or basketball. Baseball isn’t a game of emotion. Well, let me tell you something. When a team isn’t happy about their manager, general manager, or ownership, it shows up on the field very quickly and often leads to a long dry spell. When a team is happy about a big change, or a new off-field acquisition that’s going to give them a chance to win a title…they start the season ON FIRE and win almost day after day. You put the odds in your favor by backing these motivated teams, and by fading those who seem down in the dumps right off the bat.

How is Boston going to perform under Bobby Valentine? How is Miami going to perform in their new stadium with Ozzie Guillen now in the dugout? Are the Mets doomed to another disappointing season because a dark cloud just sits over that franchise? Is Houston the new Pittsburgh?

The most simple forms of handicapping focus on stats, trends, or angles. Advanced Handicapping takes full account of the big picture to maximum effect.

I’ll talk more about baseball once the season gets into full swing. We’ll be focusing exclusively on baseball and pro basketball through the Spring and Summer on these pages. I love when the schedule is this busy each and every day. That maximizes the profit power of Advanced Handicapping.

Thanks again to all of you regulars who are with us twice a week for these installments from my College of Advanced Handicapping. I’m currently planning an NBA report for later this week that will focus on handicapping the stretch run. Don’t forget that you can purchase my top baseball and basketball selections every day with your credit card right here at this website. Be sure to check the game day ads on the home page for details about the best daily opportunities.

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