Biggest MLB First Half Surprise


by Kelso Sturgeon
Contributing Sportsbook Editor


The All-Star Break is historically a spot on the calendar where serious sports bettors take a respite from the day-to-day grind to review what's happened thus far in the season. Since we have class time here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping falling right during the Break, I wanted to use this as a learning opportunity to review what I consider to be the biggest surprise thus far of the 2014 Major League season.

There are several surprises that could qualify, but to me, it's the COMBINATION of the Boston Red Sox AND the Tampa Bay Rays both falling apart in the American League. They were supposed to be the stalwarts of baseball's best division. Instead, they're tied for last place in what's become an afterthought.

In Las Vegas betting terms, both are down about 20 units thus far, even though both are only nine games below .500 straight up. Expectations were high for the tandem. When projected baseball powers collapse, they lose their backers a fortune, while making fortunes for those able to recognize what was happening quickly.

What interests me here for the purposes of our coursework is the combination in play. Anybody could have thought that Boston would fall back to earth in a letdown after their title run...or that maybe Tampa Bay's lack of financial resources would finally catch up with them. But, nobody was picking BOTH of those things to happen at once. If you thought Boston would fade, you picked Tampa Bay to win the division. If you didn't trust Tampa, you probably felt safest with Boston.

It would be like the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers both falling back to miss the playoffs in this coming NFL season. You know what? That could happen! Seattle suffers a Super Bowl letdown...while San Francisco suffers a few key injuries to skill position starts...and up-and-coming Arizona may shock the world.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady may get old at about the same time..and their teams are going to be overpriced when that happens. Texas and Oklahoma took a few steps back as college football powers recently (Texas has fallen farther than Oklahoma).

As you continue your education as serious sports bettors, you need to open your mind to the probability that multiple surprises are going to happen in any given season. What seems impossible has a better chance of happening than you realize (ask Brazilian soccer fans about that!). You need to develop gameplans for:

  • Recognizing the potential for big surges or drop-offs Spotting where markets are most weak in regards to reacting to them
  • Developing percentage-of-bankroll investment strategies for exploiting these situations

    Don't enter a season assuming everything's going to be just like last year. That may end up being true for a lot of teams. Nobody makes money for that set of teams though because oddsmakers will have them properly priced. Oddsmakers are strongly influenced by the status quo! You make money by finding and exploiting oddsmaker errors. You magnify your profits when you realize that multiple opportunities (as we've seen with the Red Sox and Rays) are usually in play at any given time.

    Think about THAT as you prepare for the second half of the Major League Baseball season, and the upcoming college and pro football seasons. Who's about to fall off the map? Make educated guesses in those sports based on the proven handicapping fundamentals that we've discussed over the years...and I'll bet you'll properly anticipate many stories that "shock" the media. If you're doing that, you'll be taking money from Vegas sportsbooks as well.


  • STURGEON: Biggest MLB 1st half surprises
  • DUFFY: CFB Playoffs affect regular season angles