Bookmaker's Corner: MLB Spring Training Betting
by Richard Gardner | Bodog Sportsbook Manager - 3/2/2010
MLB betting starts up again in the form of spring training and for bettors looking to get a jump on the upcoming baseball season, there are more than a few betting opportunities to be had with both the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules.
The thing about spring training is that most teams don’t really care if they win or lose. When you’re betting on a team to either win or lose, this apathy can provide a challenge.
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Spring training for MLB teams is mostly about preparing for the regular season. Some pitchers are held to strict pitch counts, the best players don’t always play the most because management wants to see what the up-and-comers can do, and all managers have different priorities than others.
To illustrate, the Philadelphia Phillies went 13-19 last spring training and went on to win the NL East with a 93-69 regular-season record. The Phillies went 12-18 the spring before and again went on to win their division. Oh, and the World Series.
Even though it might appear to be a crap shoot, we book a decent amount of betting action for spring training games at Bodog. Some of that action is just because people like to bet on baseball, no matter the scenario. But another segment is from bettors who do the research. They know all about which pitchers have pitch counts and which managers try to win regardless of the scenario and which managers could care less. (Perhaps one of the latter is Charlie Manuel?)
So dig into the news stories. Find out which teams do well in spring training and which ones struggle. There’s a big opportunity there. Since there’s less betting action on spring training baseball compared to the regular season and playoffs, the chances of finding a soft line are much better. But you’ve got to do the work.
In other baseball betting news, we’re seeing a jump in MLB futures wagering as spring training gets under way. The defending champion New York Yankees are once again the favorites to win it all, getting 11/4 odds to win the 2010 World Series.
Next are Boston and Philadelphia, both at 6/1, followed by the St. Louis Cardinals at 13/1.
As for a team that’s getting some unexpected betting attention, let’s talk about the Texas Rangers at 25/1. The Rangers haven’t made the playoffs in over a decade but finished a much improved 87-75 last year. The additions of slugger Vladimir Guerrero and pitcher Rich Harden also provide some potential upside, though their production is less than guaranteed.
The Washington Nationals, at 150/1 odds to winning the World Series, picked up No. 1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg, college baseball's best pitcher at San Diego State. They’ve also added a few veterans to their roster without having to trade away their younger players.
“It sounds like a cliché, but I want this team to try and win every day,'' manager Riggleman said. “If we do that, we'll be happy to see where that takes us.
"This is the best group of players this organization has had in a while. It's up to us as a staff to see if we can make it the best team. I have big expectations for this team."
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