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Handicapping Baseball Totals

Betting on baseball totals provides outstanding value and opportunities to profit from for a variety of reasons:

Home plate umpires have tendencies that can be exploited. In baseball, more so than any other sport, the home plate umpire has a tremendous impact on the game because of the size of his strike zone. Each umpire has a different strike zone, some are wider, others are tighter. Umpires with a wider strike zone favors the pitchers while umpires with a smaller strike zone will favor the batters.

Baseball totals streaks are not as noted by the Public or the media providing excellent line value for the astute handicapper. Nothing drives away line value quicker than the Public's backing. For the first part of the 2004 baseball season, lefty - lefty matchups of starting pitchers were ringing up unders at an alarming rate. Unfortunately for the Public, it appears that they jumped on the bandwagon too late as the trend is reversing to Overs in these matchups (as all trends do with time). Unfortunately, the Public has driven up the line on Unders in these matchups, so they're losses are more than they should be do to the inflated lines and lack of value.

Sportsbooks don't have as much room to adjust their totals. Baseball totals typically range from a low of 6.5 and a high of 12 (except for Coors Field which produces an abundance of high scoring affairs). When two hot hitting teams face off against one another against average starting pitching, the total will not go above 12 (-145) in most instances. Likewise, when two cold hitting teams play against two dominant starters, the total will not drop below 6.5 while laying no more than (-145). However, if a Top 10 pitcher on a winning team faces a struggling team and pitcher you may have to lay -300 to win $100.

Capping totals involves many components:

1) We start be reviewing who the home plate umpire will be. If this is the first game of a series, this information will usually not be available until an hour before game time. The umpires follow a rotation with the first base umpire behind the plate the next night. Pay attention to the umpires over/under record in their games called and the percentage of strikes that they call. Once again, a higher percentage of strikes will more than likely produce Unders as the wider strike zone favors the pitchers. A lower percentage of called strikes will favor the batters as they will more than likely

be facing hitters counts where the pitcher will have to throw a strike.

2) Look at each teams over/under record in their last 10 games. Also note any current streaks. Ideally, you want to jump on a team at the beginning of a streak. A solid hitting team like the Yankees, if their bats have been quiet the last few games, a break out is more than likely looming. Conversely, a light hitting team like the Expos recent string of overs might be nearing an end. When looking at each teams over/under streak, note if it is solid hitting or shaky pitching producing overs or weak hitting and excellent pitching ringing up Unders. Also look at how each teams batting average and runs scored fares against lefties or righties depending on the starting pitcher.

3) Review each teams starting pitchers combined over/under record on the season and in their last 3 games. Pay attention to the combined pitchers WHIP (walks and hits per 9 innings). Note any trends such as an average pitcher with a propensity towards overs that has been pitching better of late as noted by his recent string of unders and drop in WHIP.

4) Look at the bullpens. Have they seen extensive action over the last few days? Are they over or under performing in recent games as compared to their season history? Are any pitchers in the pen unavailable from too much work the previous night?

When you combine the following factors, it should be fairly obvious which way to go with the Over/Under. Do not force action. Only play those games that have the highest probability of going Over or Under the total based on your researched facts.

Baseball totals, while often over looked by the average handicapper, can be very profitable and swing the value in the handicappers favor. By tracking a teams recent hitting and pitching performances, while also factoring in the home plate umpire tendencies, solid total betting values can be found to swing the advantage to the Capper!

Good Luck!

About the Author
Ron is the founder of Dyer's Sportsline. Ron takes a three pronged approach to sports handicapping by analyzing games on a fundamental, situational and line movement (smart money) basis. With his strong aptitude in statistics, analysis of team strengths and weaknesses, his knowledge of human psychology, coupled with years of experience, he has developed a system of delivering consistent winners with his solid game analysis and observations.

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