The 2006 baseball season is just around the corner, and as it turns out each year the multitude of trades and free agents has created a need to know who's playing for who and what the impact may be if you're going to bet. The "first wave" of baseball books to cover the preseason period has arrived, and these include Betting Baseball 2006 by Michael Murray (153 pages, 8x11 plastic spiralbound, $29.95); Phil Erwin's Pitching Aces 2000 (153 pages, 5x8 plastic spiralbound, $22.95) and the Sporting News 2006 Edition of the Baseball Guide (paperbound, 632 pages, $18.95).
Murray's Baseball Betting book, updated, streamlined and $10 cheaper than last year's edition, explains how to bet baseball (in case you’ve never bet the game before) then explains how to understand the baseball line, what the house's theoretical hold percentage is, what to know if you're betting offshore including how to identify "shaky" operations and a profile of some top offshore operations and how to contact them. He shows a comparison of the money line to the run line and offers a look at the "alternate run line" (a recent offshore innovation).
Those who enjoy playing totals as well as those who don't fully understand the factors to be considered on this bet will find value in Murray's guide on what determines the totals number.
Ever wonder what the home field edge was in baseball and what it was "worth" in the 2005 season for example? How does a bettor "measure" offense; deal with injuries and how defense saves pitchers runs? Murray discusses that while examining the actual impact of a pitcher on the game; the ERA (earned runs average) factor; who the ground ball and fly ball pitchers are and what value there is in isolating the strikeout divided by walks rate.
The dominance factor also involves the "control rate" and the "home run rate" and what does pitchers in. Murray looks at all that along with a way of measuring consistency in starters (including quality starts).
The chapter on creating the line should prove invaluable, with a way of translating win percentage into the line.
Other areas of discussion include betting on streaks including home and away dogs and a look at props like a specific batter-pitcher matchup, often offered by offshore books.
The impact of ballparks on scoring is vital, and Murray offers marvelous food for thought on factors like temperature; humidity; wind. Murray looks at virtually every ballpark for the past five seasons; shows you park layouts; dimensions; compares day to night scoring; month-by-month scoring.
The influence of an umpire's quirks and his perceived strike zone (and the controversial Ques-Tec camera system) is just starting to be measured by bettors who have now begun to adjust their totals to who's behind the plate.
Murray is at his finest in grading the men in blue (not only for their accuracy and consistency, but for their temperament and respect for players). His book has an umpire roster; a listing of over or under umpires; and a profile of each with numbers since 2000.
Overall, Murray's work is clearly the finest book on how to bet baseball intelligently since Mike Lee's classic Betting the Bases and Robert Ross' Betting to Win on Baseball.
Phil Erwin's Pitching Aces is a marvelous compilation by one of the most dedicated individuals in the business focusing on baseball handicapping. It contains a three year summary of statistics for more than 140 starting pitchers; career records against every team; how each pitcher did on grass; turf; day; night; home; away and what their ERA was in each category--all for last season.
Some pitchers start well, finish the season weakly for a variety of reasons. What was their ERA each month and how many runs did they allow on the average? Erwin's book lists this and shows you how effective their bullpen was in supporting them.
For many bettors, the lifetime ERA and won-loss records are very important, and Erwin has this. Tim Hudson of the Braves is 5-0 lifetime versus the Dodgers and 4-0 against the Mets. Toronto's Roy Halladay is 8-2 vs. KC and 6-1 against Cleveland.
From Armas to Zito, Erwin has it all, including game ratings based on strikeouts; hits and home runs allowed; number of innings pitched.
The Sporting News Baseball Guide tells you the score of every regular season and post season game of 2005, including winning and losing pitcher and shows you how the team moved up or down the standings day by day. It contains the 2006 schedule of each team; a ballpark diagram; a directory which shows you the team's minor league affiliates; what radio or TV station they are on; where Spring Training will occur and ticket information for pre-season or regular season play.
The team's address and web site are also listed. Many all-time records, results and award winners are listed; plus the year in reviews; highlights; post season play; the World Series are included. A major section beginning on page 370 details the top players and teams from each of 17 minor leagues from AAA to Rookie level.
Finally, if you've lost track of who's now with what new team via trade, release, free agency, it's all here, day by day for 2005.
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