If you aren’t in a fantasy baseball league, even just a fun public league, shame on you – you may be missing out on a great handicapping tool.
For the past few years we have run fantasy football and baseball pools at the office and I can say unequivocally that they have made me a better real-money bettor. Baseball in particular seems to lend itself best to this practice, as following the trends and results of starting pitchers and star players translates more directly than that of football.
Still matchups of football running backs against soft run defenses or the general trend of how a defense typically performs versus the pass and run translates directly to my betting bottom line. When I read about how a stud shut-down corner is likely to be matched one-on-one against my big receiver, I take note. If my quarterback is heading into a match-up against a banged-up defense that has been giving up yards and touchdowns in bunches, the rubber band comes off the bankroll.
Baseball starting pitchers account for a large part of the betting line, but fantasy baseball leagues help provide insight not just in terms of a player’s recent performance, but based on more than just Wins, ERA, and WHIP we can uncover the success or failure of a starter. We can do this by looking at historical batting averages against, and batting averages on balls in play, and how they compare to the current stats. The same applies to relievers who may cost a starter by not coming in and closing the door. A starter can leave a gave with 2 runners on and be charged for 2, 1 or 0 runs, even though at that point it is out of their hands.
Take a look at the St. Louis Cardinals record with, and without, Matt Holiday in the line-up this season. If you happen to have Mr. Holliday on your fantasy team, you likely are acutely aware of that mark, and have probably pocketed a tidy sum while he was on the DL recently.
Luck, good or bad, isn’t taken out of the statistics when we take them at face value. But being in a fantasy league keeps you in tune not just with what the numbers are, but how the numbers became what they are. Join a fantasy league, manage your team, analyze starts, look at the match-ups of your opponents’ pitchers – and make money wagering accordingly.