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It Happens Every Spring

   by Al McMordie - 04/14/2006

Baseball teams and players change from year to year, and it's essential for sports bettors to understand this. More than any other sport, really, changes take place that can drastically influence a baseball team's play. One example would be injuries. Players get hurt and pitchers are more susceptible to injuries than any other pro athlete. Even a nagging, minor injury, such as an ankle, hamstring, or rib cage pull, can affect a pitcher's delivery and performance.

Team make-up is another. The NY Mets suffered from a poor offense last season, so they went out and bought slugger Carlos Delgado, and this was one year after winning the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes. The improved offense is evident, as NY is batting .311 as a team, tops in the National League. By the way, do you know who is last in hitting? The World Champion White Sox at .230, just behind Arizona and Florida.

It's also interesting that the team leading the majors in home runs and fielding percentage is the Detroit Tigers. They are also third in team ERA, tops in the AL. First-year manager Jim Leyland seems to be putting his thumb-print on the team already. Six of the first eight Tiger games have gone under the total. Detroit is also an impressive 5-1 on the road.

The Red Sox have totally revamped their philosophy this season. Boston was a slugging team with little pitching and defense a year ago. They went out and upgraded the pitching (Josh Beckett), and defense (Coco Crisp, Mike Lowell, Mark Loretta), while sacrificing some offense by letting Johnny Damon walk. They are fifth in baseball in fielding percentage and third in the AL in team ERA. Four of their last six games have gone under the total.

The Toronto Blue Jays expanded their payroll by 50% this offseason, bringing in a slew of powerful hitters, including former home run champ, 3B Troy Glaus. Toronto is second in the league in hitting (.327) and second in the AL in slugging. Yet, they are .500 because the pitching is 20th in baseball, and fielding is 21st. Yes, there's more to winning than just slugging the ball out of the park. The great hitting and lack of quality pitching explains why Toronto is 5-2 over the total.

While some betting trends can be explained, some are flukes. The Colorado Rockies don't appear to be a very good team on paper, yet they won four of their first five road games! All in all, that's a trend that isn't likely to continue, especially at that pace!

And the Padres sport one of the more unusual stats: 1-4 at home, 2-0 on the road. Many trends and angles have reasons behind them that can explain a lot of things, while others make little sense. It's important to try and find reasons, as a successful sports bettor can ride a trend for easy winners, if that trend has tangible reasons supporting it. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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