Perhaps through the meteoric rise of fantasy sports wagering we are entitled to claim our original concept of placing wagers on teams as "reality wagering". But with all due respect to our friends from Fan Duel and Draft Kings, they've taught us a lesson to dig deeper into individual player performance stats beyond looking at team trends. After all, it is individual players that make up these teams. And they often change uniforms drastically year to year.
Which brings us to the MLB baseball season. No sport seems to juggle their starters daily more than baseball teams, with pitchers being the premium betting force determining the line. Put one great pitcher on the mound with eight nobodies and that team could be a betting favorite against a squad of MLB All-Stars. Can't say that with Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady lining up under center with 10 replacements.
Yes, the starting pitcher is usually the key factor in determing a wagering decision in baseball. But be careful. I'd invest a little more time looking at who is on the field behind them. Are you getting the best value one way or the other?
A perfect case in point is Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies. Their #1 starter and the most coveted potential trade prospect in baseball once the Phillies feel they can obtain future prospects. Hamels was 9-9 last year with an unbelievable 2.46 ERA. Put him on the Dodgers or Angels in 2014 and that translates to a possible 18-7 record. For the record, the Phillies lost many of those games he left for relief last year with several bets going down the drain as well.
This week's opening day picked up right where he left off last year. Although he surrendered 4 solo home runs in an 8-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox, the Phils managed just 3 hits in support. Welcome back teammate. For the record, the Phillies were a -110 favorite over the Sox at Bovada and most other top online sportsbooks. Ugh.
Conversely, beware of teams going through transitions where you are likely to "overpay" due to their past success, especially pitching success. An example spotlight could be on the San Francisco Giants, the World Series Champion in the last three out of five seasons. Here's a brief synopsis of the Giants wagering prospects courtesy of Diamond Sports:
San Francisco Giants
The lines themselves tells the story here. The Giants are a very inviting +550 to win the NL West, +1000 to win the NL Pennant and an amazing +2000 to win the World Series this year in the MLB future betting at Diamond Sports. Are their NL West competitors, The Los Angeles Dodgers that good or has San Francisco fallen that far back? The answer to that question as in most similar questions is likely a bit of both.
They still have NLCS & WS MVP Madison Bumgarner every 4th or 5th start. Buster Posey could be the best catcher in baseball, hitting for .311 with 22 home runs last year and is outstanding defensively. Wild man outfielder Hunter Pence hit 20 HR's last season and seems to get many clutch hits.
But the big down side is they lost Pablo Sandoval to free agency and starter Matt Cain is very iffy regaining form along with suspicion former ace Tim Lincecum might be starting to tail off. Depending on your perspective, the Giants may be a very good value long-term in the futures Win total (81.5 at Bovada) but a very questionable daily proposition. Keep in mind, despite their World Series success, they were a moderate 88-74 in the regular season straight up.
It's early in the MLB season and bettors should not only tread lightly until some sceanrios play out, but players should also check the complete rosters on a daily basis, including injury reports before placing bets based on 2014 numbers.