Derek Jeter 3000 Hits Impact on Handicapping the Yankees
by Trevor Whenham - 6/15/2011
Derek Jeter is on the fast track to 3000 hits -- albeit with a stop on the DL that will slow down his arrival at the milestone. You could write seven books on Jeter himself, the meaning of this accomplishment, and his role on this team, but I have no interest in that. I don’t even really like the guy. What is more interesting to me, though, is the impact that the pursuit of a major milestone like this one, or 500 home runs or 300 wins, has on a team from a betting perspective, and how MLB handicappers could potentially benefit from the situation. Here are five factors to consider when thinking about how a record chase will affect a team:
Does the player tighten up? - Some players play as if totally unaffected by the situation around them. It’s just another day to them, and the big hit, home run or win is just like any other to them. They are very business-like. Those people obviously aren’t going to be affected by the situation, and their attitude is going to carry over to their team as well.
Other players, though, react to the pressure as if the weight of the world is upon them. They don’t play like they did to get to the brink of the accomplishment, and their production falters. That can have a big negative impact on the players around them. If the player isn’t performing then the pursuit can drag on for a long time, and the difficulty of reaching the milestone can become a story itself. That only serves to worsen the whole situation and further negatively affect the team.
The coverage and the potential negativity are more significant the more public a team is. That’s good news for bettors because the public is always drawn to public teams, so there is often value in betting against them, and this situation will only increase that potential.
Is the player popular on the team? - The more popular a player is on his team and in his market the more engaged his teammates are going to be in the pursuit, and the more impact it will have on the whole team. If a guy hits the milestone for a team he has played his whole career for it is going to have more impact than if he does it on a team he just joined that season.
If the player has been on one team for a long time but isn’t the popular face of that team then the impact won’t be as significant as it will be for a guy like Jeter. In terms of the betting impact on a team it really is a popularity contest.
Is the media scrutiny intense? - There are a lot of factors that can go into determining how much attention the media pays to a milestone pursuit. Is it an impressive accomplishment, or has the significance been diluted? Is the player doing it relatively quickly or in a way that is otherwise notable? Is the team a major force in their home market, or are they overshadowed by other sports? Is the accomplishment happening in a major national market, or one that gets little national attention? Is the player a major national star, or a player who gets little attention most of the time? When was the last time the milestone was reached? The more intense the media scrutiny, the better the chance that there will be value in betting against the player and his team.
How has the player been playing? - There is a very good chance that the player will be negatively affected by the situation. He’ll tighten up under the scrutiny and perform below expectations in most cases.
The question for bettors, then, is how significant a decrease in production could be. If the player has been performing at a high level then the decrease could hit the team hard. By the time a player hits one of the major career milestones, though, they are often much closer to the end of their careers than the beginning, so they often aren’t performing at a level close to what they were capable of at their peak. In that case then a decrease in performance isn’t as big a deal because the team probably isn’t relying heavily on the player anymore.
What is the public sentiment? - Just like the media, there are some pursuits that the public will be highly engaged in, and others that will only barely register on the national consciousness. The more engaged the public is in a pursuit, the more emotional they are going to be with their bets, and the more likely that there is going to be value on the teams that play against the player chasing history.
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