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How to Win with Baseball Future Bets

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You can win with baseball future bets if you do some study of past performances and scrutinize each teams likelihood of improvement for the coming year. Then choose the likely division winners, wild cards, and start juggling improvement likelihood narrow down your choices to six teams in each league. You can then work your way down to a likely World Series winner - with a little help provided here.

Every baseball better would like to predict the winner of the next World Series, but with 30 major league teams the task is tough. You can make it a lot easier by coming down from the World Series dream and starting with contenders, likely division winners (and wild cards), and likely pennant winners. Obviously a team can't win the World Series if they don't win the American League or National league Championship!

Previous surprises to win the World Series produced payoffs of as high as 300 to 1 for bets made prior to the first regular season game. In the last 30 years there have been several interesting wins. The Kansas City Royals were a big surprise in 1985, the first time they had ever made it to the World Series, and so were the Mets in 1986, because they were a bunch of young kids. The Twins in 1991 payed huge odds, and then the next year the Toronto Blue Jays won in their first appearance ever. Obviously the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks were a big payoff too, even to just win the pennant. And, who can forget the White Sox and the Red Sox finally getting a Championship after nearly 100 years? All that said, not all of those winners were good bets. Betting futures isn't quite like regular baseball bets.

There are a lot of Boston Red Sox fans, so the odds of them winning each year are driven down to a not-very-attractive number (likewise the Yankees). Teams that are from small markets like the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros sometimes have attractive odds because so few bettors know (or care) about them. This year there has been some shuffling of divisions to even out each league. Those same two consistently underachieving teams, the Astros and the Mariners, are now in the AL West with the Rangers, Angels, Mariners, and A's. It had been unfair that for years (since 1997) the Astros were in a division with six teams and the Mariners were in a division with just four.

Chore Number One - Past Performance

Past performance over the years will ultimately help with futures bets, and seeing a team like the Atlanta Braves win their division 11 straight years should help make winning some money a lot easier. The Braves accomplished that feat from 1995 to 2005 with a very consistent lineup and amazing pitching. The Yankees won 10 out of 11 at about the same time, spending whatever it cost to stay highly competitive and with some great regulars like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. They are likely to be competitive this year, and that kind of reasoning will help you narrow down your field of possible World Series winners.

If you have no reference material, you can do a web search for Division Winners, Pennant Winners, and World Series Champions for the past ten years. Print those out if you can or copy them to a pad of paper to help you see who has consistently done well. Your job is to figure out who the top six teams in each league are. You'll also want to find out how many games each team won for the past five years.

Take the total games won for each team and choose the top ten, then compare these figures to the Division, Championship, and World Series wins. Who are the top six teams? This will be 40 percent of your tool to choose a World Series Winner.

Chore Number Two - Team Composition

This is the part where some ability to "scout" each team is important. If you don't really know that much, watch ESPN as they count down each team during Spring Training, and check Yahoo for their picks. These videos will give you an idea about who has truly improved, who's stayed the same, and who has lost players. For instance, last year the Yankees underperformed. They haven't improved their outfield, Alex Rodriguez is hurt, Curtis Granderson is going to be out 10 weeks due to a broken arm, and Mariano Rivera may retire. Those things make it unlikely they will win enough games to capture the division or a wild card spot.

The Astros and the Mariners both failed to improve their teams, and they are in the same division, so the A's, Ranger's and Angel's will get to feast on many games against them, probably resulting in each of those teams winning extra games. The Rangers lost Josh Hamilton, the Angels picked up Josh Hamilton. The A's have no money to spend on big name stars. Does this look like a simple choice of the Angels to win the division? Probably.

Look at each team and compare where they were weak last year to who they have coming into Spring Training, did they improve? Now choose the top two teams for each division. This will be 40 percent of your tool to choose a World Series Winner.

Chore Number Three - Rookie and Big Name Influence

Along with understanding what each team's strength's are, a single rookie or star player can have a huge impact. When the Detroit Tigers picked-up Prince Fielder their situation improved immensely. The Nationals didn't really get that much production from rookie Bryce Harper. He was certainly an inspiration, but how many games did he improve them? On the other hand, your job is to decide if this year he will be gold, or false gold. Will he hit 40 home runs, get 100 RBI's and bat .320? Probably not, but he certainly has the potential. On the other hand, the National's pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, who went 15-6 last year, is a star who can make a huge change to a team's overall character and prospects.

Now's the hard part - predicting who's going to have a breakout year. Look for players who have shown consistent improvement and are now surrounded by managers they like (and who like them). For batters, look for players who have strong batters around them. Harper never gets great stats if he bat's sixth and the fifth and seventh batters are non-productive, because he won't see any decent pitches. If he's surrounded by strong players, pitchers will have to pitch to him. Also, don't expect players who change leagues to have their best year right away. Knowledge of pitcher, and umpires, is a big part of the art of hitting. For pitchers, knowing the batters and the umpires is an equally big part. This will be 10 percent of your tool to choose a World Series Winner.

Chore Number Four - Gut Instinct

Yup, that's right, gut instinct. Much of this is actually watching Spring Training and analyzing how each team looks. Don't be confused by wins and loses, because the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are no indication of future wins and loses, but you can see each team's chemistry - how they interact, how their manager handles them, and how deep their roster is. This last tool for choosing a World Series winner is only 10 percent of the total in my book, but others consider this the most important part.

It's the gut instinct part that usually produces the lucky, high payoff World Series winners. If you watched the Red Sox play in Spring Training of 2004, the enthusiasm, the manager, the strong roster, you might have chosen them. But there's also the payoff numbers. If they were offering 3-1 odds, that's an easy pass. If they were 50-1, that would have been an easy choice.

Putting it all together

So, now's the time to put chore's number one through four together and see what you get, weighing more heavily on past performance and team composition. Who are your top six picks for each league? How do they stack up against each other? You can't bet all six, you have to use money management tips,or all 12 from both leagues, but you can bet two or three. I like to go with three, one best pick from each league, and one of my own wild cards, often based on the odds being offered.

This year, the Toronto Blue Jays have fallen from an opening number of 15-1, to just 7-1. That's probably too small a number now, even with their acquisitions. The Dodgers, Angels, Tigers, and Nationals are next, each at 9-1. A reasonable number for each. Personally, I like the Angels for 2013 at those odds. Any lower and no, they are not that great a deal.

Now look at the long shots - who really has a chance at 20-1 or 40-1? Could the Cardinals or Phillies get in again/ Could the Orioles make a strong run this year like last year? Now's the time for you to decide. Use the upcoming Spring Training and your notes to make your choices. If you have two or three teams that all intersect from chores one to four, that's a likely excellent choice. Good luck in 2013!

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