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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Now that the Major League Baseball All-Star Break has arrived, you have a few days to gather your senses and gear up for the final 2.5 months of the season. Today’s coursework will help you get in the right mindset for picking winners.

In recent seasons, it’s become very important to fully understand THE MOTIVATION FACTOR at the team level. The main reasons for that are:

*Some teams who coasted through the first half of the season kick up their intensity in the second half. This is particularly true for playoff caliber teams who had no reason to be “the champions” of April or May…but really do want to be champions in a few months. They have an extra gear, and they start to use it.

*Some teams who played great in the first half of the season start to coast because they have so much margin for error and don’t want to risk any serious injuries. If you have a big lead in your division, there’s just no reason to keep the pedal to the metal. Even if you have an extra gear, give it a rest for a couple of months until its needed again.

*Some teams who played over their heads in the first half of the season crash and burn when the laws of math (or key injuries) finally catch up to them. The first half of 2018 has been notable for so many surprises in both leagues. Some balloons are about to pop.

Or, in shorthand…

*Coasters who looked like 85-win teams will start playing like 95-win teams

*Powers who looked like 100-win teams will back off to 90-win caliber for awhile

*Pretenders who looked like 85-win teams will slump back to look like 70-win teams

Now, I’m not saying those powers will become “worse teams.” But, they’ll get worse results because they aren’t prioritizing games with such intensity. Plus, the manager has room to experiment with lesser players to get them some experience. You lose a game here and there? No big deal. (But, it is a big lead to bettors laying -200 or more on powers who change their mindset!)

What I’ve described to you can be a real problem for stat handicappers or computer programmers, because “the numbers” won’t what’s coming! All these leopards are about to change spots. Computers will still see them as the old leopards. As much as I respect the hard work the numbers guys put in…I’ve always felt I had an edge over them because of my experience and common sense.

Your homework assignment today is to classify EVERY team over .500 now in one of those three categories. Or, allow for the fact that they’ll just keep doing what they were doing. Maybe Cleveland’s going to coast all season because it can in a weak division. Maybe Atlanta isn’t an illusion. Do your best to make those determinations. I’d suggest looking at the following.

*Run differentials

*Records vs. other winning teams

*Run differentials vs. other winning teams

*Starting pitcher performance vs. career norms

*Strength of relievers who usually pitch seventh and eighth innings

*Career “second half” records of the manager (big hidden key!)

I know, what sounded like a short, quick homework assignment is starting to get bigger. Do you want to win the rest of the way, or constantly complain that teams aren’t playing the way they had in the first half of the season? Stay ahead of the race! I can think of at least TEN starting pitchers who are about to reverse course from the first half based on their proven career strengths or weaknesses. YOU will be really frustrated the next several weeks if you’re riding those horses in the wrong direction.

That’s it for today’s class. I can tell you that I’ve already done advance baseball handicapping work for the weekend and beyond. I’m very excited about what I’m seeing in terms of today’s discussion. Some sea changes will be starting soon, and they’ll be exacerbated by head-to-head battles. Have time for extra homework? Look at the team schedules for the rest of July for more insight into what I’m talking about.

If you’d like help making smart picks day-by-day year round, KELSO STURGEON’S BEST BETS can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters office by calling office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. The All-Star Break is a great time to start making plans for football season. That’s always been true. That’s why I always have a great early-bird offer for football available during the ASB.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back with you Friday for our next class. We’ve been focusing that weekend report on football of late, and will probably continue to do so for the time being. The NFL preseason is fast approaching. You need to be ready!

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