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Secrets to May and June Baseball Success

   by ASA - 05/07/2007

Is there a big difference to baseball handicapping in May and June as compared to April? You bet there is. With a history of starts built up by now for each pitcher it is important to dig deeper into the actual numbers of this season. Early in the season it is dangerous to put too much weight on one or two starts but after six or seven starts if trends emerge, they are more meaningful. At the start of the season there is more concern with value as certain teams and pitchers will be greatly over-valued or under-valued based on the results of last season or any rumors and
information that comes out in the spring. In the early season games you can have more success taking shots with big underdogs just based on a judgment that the mainstream perception is inaccurate but at this point the team-specific situation is more in focus as the lines are sharper and more consistent.

Two things to consider for baseball handicapping in May and June:

1) Make sure to not blindly value a pitcher's win/loss record and ERA.

Starters with great early numbers are going to be significantly over-valued. Josh Beckett is probably going to be a huge favorite in every start for the next month. He started last season 7-1 but went 8-9 the rest of the season and a closer look shows that he was beat up by good offenses in 2006. He allowed 22 runs in four starts against the Yankees, 15 runs in four starts against the Blue Jays and 15 runs in two starts against the Indians. This season he had his worst
start against the Yankees and was fortunate to get the win while his other starts have come against offenses that have struggled. He caught the Angels when they were slumping and faced a banged up Toronto team in his most recent start. He's a good pitcher but this pace won't continue as he allows a lot of hits and was near the top of the AL in home runs allowed last season. He has allowed just two round trippers this year but we expect that total to rise quickly as the season progresses. Chris Capuano is 5-0 for the red-hot Brewers but he was bailed out by the bullpen in two early season starts and his last five starts came against offenses that rank 10th, 11th, 15th, and 16th in NL. Milwaukee's schedule is about to get much tougher and Capuano's numbers are likely to slide.

2) Keep an eye on travel situations.

It's not an exact science as to how teams are affected by travel but this is the time of season where players can start to wear down a bit and some nagging injuries are building. Several teams have yet to make long trips East or West and although it may not make a major impact in the initial game or two it can take a toll in the latter part of a road trip or in a home series after a long trip. Looking at the standings, the travel schedule has had an impact in the early results. Milwaukee has the best record in baseball but they have not had to travel west yet and only played three games on the East coast so far. Boston started the season in the Midwest but since has left the East Coast for just one series, while the Yankees have had to play in Oakland, Tampa, Texas, and Minnesota. First place Cleveland is out West for the first time this week, while the struggling White Sox have already played in Oakland, Seattle, and Anaheim. If a team seems to be over or under-performing make sure the schedule has not been a factor before placing too much weight on the first month of the season.

As you can see, adjustments need to be made once you get through with the first month of the season. More changes are required as we near mid-season and toward the end of the year. We’ll discuss these in future articles.

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