Interleague MLB Handicapping – Key Factors
by Scott Rickenbach
Though we all got a little “taste” of Interleague action earlier this season, the first big slate of Interleague action on the schedule begins on Friday, June 11th. From that day all the way through the 27th of the month, Interleague action is in “full effect” and how that is approached by handicappers and bettors alike will be a key to their success or lack thereof! Though there is certainly nothing that is a “lock” when it comes to a handicapping, there definitely are pointers that are important to keep front of mind when dealing with unique situations. Interleague baseball certainly fits the bill as “unique” so below is a list of key factors that could help you navigate this portion of the schedule properly and come out “in the black” with profits on the other end of this cycle.
1) Be mindful of how teams have performed in interleague action in prior seasons. Some teams have thrived in it while others seem uncomfortable in it nearly every season, year after year.
2) Keep in mind the importance of the pitching match-ups in interleague action. A big key for pitchers in terms of enjoy success against opponents is if the opposing lineup is unfamiliar with them.
3) As a result of item #2 above, we gauge a lot of our interleague handicapping on how familiar or unfamiliar a teams lineup is with the pitcher they will be facing.
4) If a National League roster of position players is loaded with former American League players than they may hold an extra edge when facing a long-time A.L. pitcher in interleague action.
5) Likewise, in similar fashion to #4 above, if a National League roster is full of long-time N.L. players and they’re facing an American League pitcher who has spent his entire career in the A.L., then it is the pitcher who likely holds the edge in the match-up.
6) The designated hitter aspect of Interleague play is also intriguing. Games in A.L. parks are played with the D.H. and games played in N.L. parks are played without the D.H.
7) Item #6 above is not as “cut and dry” as it may seem on the surface. For instance, if an American League team has a pitcher that is a good hitter (maybe from prior experience in the National League) then that A.L. team could actually hold a hitting edge even if having to play at the N.L. Park in interleague action. Let’s say the N.L. team has a lousy hitting pitcher then the A.L. team could actually hold an edge at the plate even though the game is being played at an N.L. Park.
8) Another example of how the D.H. issue changes the landscape in interleague action is that an N.L. team may be playing at an A.L. foe and that N.L. team might actually hold the edge if they have an aging veteran whom doesn’t play well in the field but carries a big stick. Now they finally get to get that stick in the lineup on a regular basis. Say that N.L team is playing an A.L. team that hasn’t been getting much production from their D.H. spot. As you can see, the N.L. team would actually hold an edge in the hitting department in a game like this even though the game is being played in an A.L. park.
In summary, just keep in mind that Interleague action is indeed a different game and there are different factors that need to be considered when evaluating the match-ups. Current form of both hitters and pitchers is important as always but also remember the importance of past history in terms of the match-ups. It’s an edge for the pitcher if the hitters aren’t familiar with him but it’s a big edge for the hitters if they are familiar with the pitcher they are facing. With so many players switching leagues more frequently than in past years, you can find some edges in these areas. Best of luck with Interleague handicapping as we’re all going to get an intense 17-day dose of it here in 2010 from the 11th all the way through the 27th of the month. Best of luck in all your gaming – Scott Rickenbach
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