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Baseball Totals: Parks and Lineup Changes

   by Al McMordie - 08/10/2009

Offense has been down a bit the last few seasons in major league baseball. There are many theories about this, from teams shoring up the relief staff as many games are decided in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings, to the decrease in steroids. Another factor that's always worth considering is the ballpark. It's no secret that the dimensions of parks play a role not only in how a team plays but in how a team is constructed.


When wagering on baseball totals, it's important to look at the park, the defense and the pitching staffs, both starting and relief pitching. Current teams with large, pitcher-friendly parks are Safeco in Seattle, Dodger Stadium in LA, Comerica in Detroit, Petco in San Diego and the Oakland Coliseum.


Let’s take a closer look at the A’s. They are roughly a .500 team at home but terrible on the road, which is why they are in last place. This is not a very good offense, so they are only able to compete when the pitching staff keeps them close in games. This is more likely at home, as Oakland is a huge park. 21-year-old starter Brett Anderson has a 3.76 ERA at home, but that balloons to 4.55 on the road. He’s given up only 3 homers at home, but 11 on the road! Another starter, Trevor Cahill, has 5 wins at home, but only one win away where he allows over a run per game more.


Oakland had a road trip at the end of July where they went to hitter-friendly parks in New York and Boston, going 6-1-1 over the total. They are on a road trip right now to Kansas City and Baltimore and the first two games of the trip went over the total. Professional sports bettors carefully look at parks trends like this, in addition to offensive production.


Of course, things can change during the course of a season, too, and it’s important for handicappers to evaluate adjustments to see if it may influence sides and totals. The Red Sox, for instance, are in a second half slump because of injuries, mainly to the offense. 3B Mike Lowell recently came back but is not 100%, RF Jason Bay has a hamstring problem and SS Jed Lowrie (wrist) is out. They just got shut out in back to back games at Yankee Stadium – one of them in 15 innings! This is nothing new, however, as Boston is on a 17-10-1 run under the total, aided also by a dynamite bullpen, the best in baseball.


Detroithas had struggles on offense all season and it doesn’t help that it plays in a big park. The Twins were forced to go with starter Carl Pavano this weekend, but no matter, as he shut out the Tigers at Comerica Park on Saturday. That is part of a 23-12-1 run under the total by Detroit.


Of greater concern than the offense this week for the Tigers would be starters Justin Verlander and Armando Galarraga. Verlander (12-6) is an ace, but took the loss to Minnesota, five days removed from his last start against the Orioles in which he gave up five runs in the first inning. Manager Jim Leyland says he is also concerned about Armando Galarraga (6-10). He's had winless streaks of 10 and five starts this season. In his last two starts, he's allowed 11 earned runs on 19 hits in 10 2/3 innings.


Kansas City surprised with its improved pitching in the first half of the season, but are the kids beginning to wear out? The Royals are on an 8-2-1 run over the total, giving up a lot of runs while losing most of them. Rookie catcher Brayan Peña got his second straight game as their cleanup hitter this weekend. The pitching staff has been hurt with the absence of Gil Meche, who could be back soon. He made his second rehab start Saturday for Class AAA Omaha last week.


The Kings of the Hill with respect to totals goes to the LA Angels, who have had roster changes all season because of injuries (and even tragedy). They haven’t suffered on offense because players like Howie Kendrick stepped up when Torri Hunter and Vlad Guerrero were on the shelf. Angel base runners have advanced from first base to third base on a single 89 times, tops in the big leagues. The team also had a major league-high .305 batting average with runners in scoring position. The Angels' offense is one of the best in baseball, on a 15-2-1 run over the total!


It’s the Angels' pitching that is a concern again. Starter Joe Saunders is on the 15-day disabled list for tightness in his left shoulder. Saunders had started the season 5-1 but has gone 4-6 since then. And after he lasted only 1 2/3 innings Friday night against the Texas Rangers, in which he gave up five runs, the Angels decided to put him on the disabled list. Betting totals can be just as profitable as sides in baseball, and knowing the parks, injuries and daily lineup changes can help a smart bettor turn a profit. Good luck, as always....Al McMordie.

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