In some ways, the Major League Baseball season is a tough one for which to prepare. Spring training games tend to be difficult to assess, as split squads include promising prospects who will end up in the minors and seasoned starters.
Baseball teams themselves are tough to handicap due to the diversity of skills needed, the inconsistency and unpredictability of pitching, and the many different factors that can affect a team. We always say that after all of your preseason prep is done and the season starts, all of that great preparation becomes secondary to how a team actually performs in a real game situation.
This is especially true for baseball, which offers a long season during which every team and player has numerous up and downs. Here are some tips that will help you get ready for what is a 162-game, seven-month season.
As soon as the baseball season is over, pro sports bettors are monitoring news sources such as ESPN and FOX Sports to get information on the next season. It’s a good idea to spend about twenty minutes a day evaluating the latest developments. Doing so will keep you up-to-date on the sport and the teams. This will be especially helpful as the new season approaches.
Hot Stove League
The hot stove league happens in the wintertime. It’s not really a league. The term refers to developments that occur in baseball during the cold winter months. Perhaps the most important time for the hot stove league is in January when the team owners and GMs have their meetings in Florida. All of the MLB teams hold meetings where they discuss league issues. Sometimes trades are made or news breaks, as clubs make announcements and broker deals.
Spring training games start in late February. Players arrive at spring training about two weeks before the games begin. First pitchers and catchers are on hand and about a week later the other players arrive. This is a time when sports bettors start to get a feel for each team, the health of various players, and which guys look promising. With careful monitoring, sports bettors can get useful information.
Preseason previews, which are published about four to six weeks before the start of the baseball season, may be found online and at your local newsstand. These can be very helpful as they offer solid information and stats on players, teams, managers, coaches, and front office personnel. They will also provide you with projections regarding where each team will finish by the end of the year. However, these projected finishes are often fairly inaccurate.
Pitching is the most important element of every team. By monitoring spring training, news reports, and assessments made in each team’s season preview, you’ll get a sense of each pitching staff. Remember, even though starting pitching is important, so too is relief. It’s rare for any starter to go nine innings. That means that middle and late relief, as well as a solid closer, are essential to a pitching staff and a team’s overall success. Pitching evaluations are some of the most important preparation you’ll do.
Hitting and Fielding
Solid teams usually have three very strong hitters on the team. Some have more. Teams need both power hitters and those who hit for average. Base running skills and speed are also very handy.
Some player’s hitting styles make them perfect for certain ballparks. As an example, slugger David Ortiz found the right park for his swing when he came to Fenway and the Boston Red Sox.
Fielding is often overlooked, but a speedy, accomplished outfield and fast infielders with strong, accurate arms are important. They can often be the difference between victory and defeat.
In baseball, the manager sets the tone for the team. His ability to work with diverse personalities and to create an atmosphere where everyone works together is important. The coaching staff is also critical, as they handle hitters and pitchers and oversee the running of the team. A strong manager with a competent staff of coaches can develop a winning ball club.
Front Office Activity
How much front office activity has there been in the off-season? Is the GM content to let things stay as they are or is he looking to fill gaps in the club? Is the team willing to spend the money it needs to get better players or have they developed a strong minor league system that will feed quality players to the majors?
Trades and Signings
Both trades and free agent signings are very important. If new guys are on-board, they can make a significant impact. Will they be able to adjust to their new surroundings? If they have switched from one league to the other or from a small to a big market, it might be difficult for them to make the transition. Is the new player a good fit with the team? Will the team chemistry improve or get worse with the new players who have been added and those who are now gone?
Because baseball has such a long and arduous season, there’s always a lot of talk about the value of good clubhouse guys. These are players who can keep things light when they need to be light, who can rally the troops when needed, and who can help get everyone on the same page. A good clubhouse guy can make a long season short, make bad times better, and simply improve everyone’s attitude.
Ready to Bet
As the season approaches, serious sports bettors will have a lot of information in their head and on-hand that they can easily access and use when handicapping games. As April 1 approaches, they are ready to hit the ground running. Of course, once the first pitch is thrown, they are constantly working to gain more knowledge about the league, teams, players, and all other aspects of the game. A professional sports bettor knows that there is always more to learn.