MLB Handicapping: How Fantasy Baseball Can Help with MLB Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 04/01/2009
The baseball season is about to start. That means that thousands of baseball geeks are studying hard and getting ready to draft their fantasy baseball teams. I can't say with certainty, but I would guess that most serious sports bettors aren't also serious fantasy sports players - doing either one well takes up a lot of time, so it can be hard to do both. And sports betting probably pays better. Though that makes sense, there are some very good reasons why someone that wants to do well as a baseball bettor may also want to run a fantasy baseball team this year as well. Here's a look at five:
Better knowledge of players - To do well at fantasy baseball you need to know a lot of players. Many sports bettors may just be familiar with the handful of familiar names on each team - the key starters and the important pitchers. Because fantasy players have to fill a whole roster, though, they have to get to know more players. They have to have a good sense of not just the obvious stars, but the young players who are ready to break out, the veterans that are in a good position to contribute, and the guys who do the little things that help their teams without getting the headlines. Ultimately, the players are the ones that win and lose games. By drafting a team and then following it and trying to improve it you will know those players better, and will have a more realistic picture of teams' capabilities. After all, the stars a team has may sound impressive, but they can't win games if they don't have a good supporting cast behind them.
Focus on the importance of players exclusive of their teams - This is really just an extension of the first point, but it's important enough to mention again. Sports bettors tend to view teams as a whole entity - the Yankees are good, and the Pirates are really bad. Fantasy baseball can help you to recognize that teams are much more subtle than that. The Yankees are good, but they can be much better or worse depending upon who is pitching that day, who is in the field, and which order people are hitting in. Astute sports bettors realize that and pay attention to that, but playing fantasy baseball can help you to realize it for yourself, and makes it easy for you to see the impact of those changes. Once you see the impact you can adjust your betting to take advantage of it.
Keeps you focused throughout the long season - Baseball is endless and, at times, monotonous. The season starts at the beginning of April, goes on through the long summer, and is still going strong in the fall. It goes on relentlessly, every single day. It can be hard for even the biggest fan to stay focused on the sport and motivated to analyze it all season. Fantasy baseball can help. If you are a competitive person then you are going to be interested in how your team is doing and what you can do to make it better. That gives you another reason to keep paying attention to what is going on in the league. Obviously, the more you pay attention, the better your decisions are going to be, and the better shape your bankroll is going to be in.
Better able to spot changes in player performance - One of the biggest mistakes that sports bettors make is assuming that players' performance is static - unless a player is in a slump that is making headlines or on a tear that is breaking records, most bettors tend to assume that a player is playing like they are supposed to be playing. Over the course of a season, though, players can go through many more ups and downs, and those ups and downs can have significant impacts on the outcome of games. By playing fantasy baseball you are in a better position to notice those changes in how a player is playing, and to assess the impact those changes have on the players' team. That can lead you to spot lines that don't reflect the actual current state of things.
Way to get some excitement when there aren't playable games - Even though there a whole bunch of games every day there are still lots of days when there just aren't games worth playing. Many bettors can develop the bad habit of playing a game or two anyway just so that they have something to do. That's a bad leak, and it can significantly damage your bankroll. By playing fantasy baseball you still have something to pay attention to on those days, so sitting on the betting sidelines becomes more bearable. Your bankroll will thank you.