Sports bettors looking to get an early jump on a new season of baseball have a golden opportunity to cash in on the upcoming 2017 World Baseball Classic with the help of two of Doc's Sports top expert handicappers; Alan Harris and Raphael Esparza .
In a recent interview with both, we got the inside scoop on a number of pertinent issues surrounding this unique international competition in advance of releasing their actual selection packages for the action on the field.
Doc's : What is the main difference between World Classic games and MLB games in terms of rules as well as how the betting odds are set?
AH: The betting odds for the WBC are set the same way as they would be for a regular MLB game. Oddsmakers know the starting pitcher for each team and they will set the money line, run line and total using that pitcher info along with what is the expected line up for each team.
The only major rule change that fans who normally watch MLB will notice is that starting in the 11th inning in extra-inning games, the teams will start with a runner on first and second base in order to not kill the pitching staffs in such a short tournament.
They also have what they are calling a Designated Pitcher Pool which consists of a list of pitchers who are not on the original roster but that can be added to the roster in a later round as an injury replacement.
I would agree that the betting odds are set the same way as in a normal MLB
game (moneyline, total and runline).
As Alan mentioned, the major rule change that fans will notice is that starting in the 11th inning of extra-inning games, the teams will get that chance to start off with a runner on first and second base in order to not kill the pitching staffs. Should be weird to watch!!!
Doc's : As a handicapper, what are you looking for in terms of finding the best value in the odds for moneylines, totals and runlines?
AH: Since a lot of the players in the tournament have played in the minors and majors, there will be some good batter vs. pitcher numbers to go off of. These guys, especially on the teams that are a top the list of favorites, have faced each other in their careers, so that's a good place to start when looking for value.
As for the totals, I'd expect the batters to be ahead of the pitchers at this point of the season. These games will be being played in what would normally be the second week of spring training, so it's possible that some of the pitchers won't be totally stretched out for their starts.
RE: I will look at pitching, pitching, and more pitching! Especially pitch counts and how countries use their bullpens. You probably will see "under" games since I believe that the pitchers are usually ahead of batters during spring training as I see batters maybe rusty early.
Doc's : Why do you think that the World Baseball Classic is a good investment for sports bettors looking to bet on some early season baseball action?
AH: If you're a baseball fan, betting on a game that means something before the regular season starts is always a good thing. These games will be much more predictable than a spring training game, and we expect the players to take it seriously. These guys want to win this, and they won't be playing these games as if they are some type of exhibition.
RE: As a baseball fan that also follows the sport from a betting standpoint, you can see possible off lines with not-so-famous countries. Don't forget the World Baseball Classic is running the same time as March Madness, so the Oddsmakers might be sleeping at the wheel when these games are on and basketball is also on the tube.
Doc's : In terms of the selection package you plan to release for this tournament, what are your overall goals as far as a return on investment?
AH: I don't really set number goals when going into a new season or tournament. At the end of the day, I want to show a profit. I think that making up a number that you want to get to actually hinders handicapping because some guys would then release a game for more units that they normally would have because they feel like they need to hit that number they put out there. My goal is just to show a profit for my clients so they have a bit of a baseball bankroll going into the season.
RE: I am another handicapper that usually does not set goals and make-believe numbers.....All I want is to win one game at a time and concentrate on pitching, pitching, and more pitching!
Doc's: When it comes to the futures odds that have been released for the World Baseball Classic, can you give us your top contender as well as your top long shot to win it all?
AH: I don't really have a futures play that I would want to give out here. It's pretty top heavy with the Dominican Republic and the United States both at +250 and Japan at 3/1, so it would seem that it's going to come down to those three teams as they are the ones that are loaded with MLB players. As for a long shot, I'd take a look at either South Korea at 12/1 or Cuba at 18/1.
Besides MLB and the league in Japan, I would say that the Korean and Cuban leagues are the next best two in the world, and these two teams will be loaded with the top players from those leagues.
RE: I have the Dominican Republic at 2-1 and the USA +180. Japan would be next at 3-1, but I would watch out for South Korea (12-1) and Venezuela at 6-1 odds to win. Both countries always have great teams and play outstanding defense, and if they can get key hits against the top contenders maybe one of them can surprise the World Baseball Classic party.
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