Today is March 28th (Sunday) so with MLB officially opening on April 1st, there are 4 days left of games with no relevance. We need to shift gears from team previews to getting ready for team analysis and player analysis. It is always good to have an understanding or context about what should happen, but then there is the truth of what happened which is where we need to get our thoughts and minds thinking as the season opens.
Get the spring training results and performances out of your head immediately! Using data from the spring or correlating that data to your handicapping is a fatal flaw for early season wagering. Spring training is exactly what its title implies. It is a training period to get players ready for the 162 games daily grind that is an MLB season. Players have not yet had their adrenalin raised to the levels of the season. They have not played in games where the results matter in the standings. Most of them have yet to face the pitching quality of an everyday major leaguer so the results that have been obtained are truly meaningless. Here is a good example of what I mean. Baseball-Reference has spring training stats like many other places, however, they have a column OppQual. This column represents the average quality of opponent faced in spring training. The value 10 is that of an MLB regular. The value 8 is that of a AAA player. The value 7 is that of a AA player and 5 is that of a high A player. Most people do not account for the level of player faced when looking at results, so this could be eye-opening for some. The chart is of hitters but there is a chart for pitchers as well.
I chose to list the top 20 in hits for the spring which also should show high batting averages. The 3rd column after the player’s name is OppQual. Notice there is not one 10! There is only one above 8! The majority of this data is based on many MLB regular starters batting against non-regular MLB level talent. We have all seen and heard about Shohei Ohtani’s success, but look at what he has faced. He has faced opponents with an average of 5.9 OppQual which is not much higher than an A minor leaguer! Please do not get fooled. Do not evaluate what has happened in spring and correlate it to the 2021 season.
The data we should be using is from the last month of the prior season or projections of 2021. They will be more accurate for the first few weeks until we get enough data to rely on. Team batting data I use once there are 7 games into the season, so we don’t have long to shift into gear to get the right data we are looking for. Starting pitchers take longer (30 days) but we can use specific information to help us. Relief pitchers are a team stat as well, and only need 14 days to get going. We need to be ready to accumulate from day one.
We can not use data from day one that will allow us to be successful for day two, but over the first week, we can use data that will help us from week 1 to week 2. MLB is a daily grind for a handicapper too. We need to be shifted from passing the days with team previews to hunting and accumulating data we can use to make money. The start of a new season is invigorating, exciting, and fresh. It is also truth-telling in the sense that your life has just taken a turn regarding the daily commitment level required to comprehend, project, and acquire the data required for analysis of the sport. It is unrelenting. It is every day. MLB originating is not for everyone. You can enjoy the sport, make bets as you like, but make sure you know where you stand. Follow an originator or be one yourself, but know what you are getting yourself into.