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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Murray's Betting Baseball a gem -- Must-read for '07

21 February 2007

It doesn't even take all the fingers on one hand to count the number of significant books devoted to betting baseball making an appearance in the past 20 years. Two that come to mind are Mike Lee's Betting the Bases and Robert Ross' Betting to Win on Baseball . Sure we have books with sections, chapters or discussions of betting baseball, but Michael Murray, a full-time devoted researcher has come along like an unexpected comet and in his 2007 edition of Betting Baseball (246 pages, paperbound, $29.95), he gives the handicapper more than expected.

In more than three dozen sections, Murray discusses, offers examples and suggests methods of wagering in regard to money management, betting totals, betting on streaks, the money line, the run line,; tracking bullpens, inter-league play, pitchers switching leagues and home field advantage. He looks at seasonal play before and after the All-Star break, teaches you how to measure consistency in starters, concentrates on betting playoffs, the effects of various ballpark configurations. He looks at factors such as the groundball ratio for pitchers and importantly discusses (65 pages) the impact of umpires on scoring totals.

For example, how do various umpires do in against the league average when it comes to men getting on base via the walk? Some umpires seem to have different temperaments, short fuses, larger or small strike zones that eventually impact the final score because of the number of runners who get on base. Murray has kept records for each of the umpires for as far back as 2000. He indicates how many home and away games each umpire participated in behind the plate and how often the home team won. Also, he lists how often games went over or under the total. Finally, for the past three years, Murray indicates each umpire's BB rate that is, how often a batter walks in comparison to the league average when a particular umpire is behind the plate.

Those interested in the Ques-Tec (a system designed as a tool to help baseball standardize the strike zone) will find excellent explanations and much food for thought in its pros and cons (the umpire's union dislikes it) and in Murray's figures.

The author's analysis of certain umpires should generate some controversy, especially when he isolates names with the words "thin-skinned" or "confrontational" or "nasty temper." There's some fascinating stuff here for those who theorize that temperature plays a factor, along with humidity, wind and even ballpark altitude (we know about Coors Field what of the others?) Back to the wind factor again, Murray charts it by the month from April to October for each team. Some interesting observations: "The wind has more of an impact on day games than games in the evening." He adds: "Wind also blows harder in April and May. Once summer hits, the wind doesn't affect nearly as many ball games as it did early in the season."

For those searching for online resources, Murray provides about four dozen of them which he uses daily. His own web site and e-mail address are also listed in the book should you have any suggestions or questions.

Overall, it doesn't get much better for bettors with Murray's book each year he improves the product. Truly a must-read for anyone betting or researching the sport.

Any item reviewed here is available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club). The store's web site is www.gamblersbook.com. You may order there using MasterCard, VISA or Discover (no CODs please) or by phoning the store any day except Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time at 1-800-522-1777. Orders usually shipped the next working day. The store, now in its 40th year, is located a mile from downtown Las Vegas, a block west of Maryland Parkway, just off Charleston Boulevard at South 11th Street. You may view the store's complete array of books, videos and software via the Web site or request a hard copy of the catalog be mailed free and first class. The store's address is 630 S. 11th St., Las Vegas, NV 89101.

Two 'Must-Have' Baseball Books for the 2007 Season

Baseball bettors love to look ahead during the season as they wait for an angle (a certain pitching match-up for example) and often, they want to look back for historical verification of that angle. For those fans, here are two fresh-off-the-presses baseball tools for serious players who need their information fast and accurately.

The first is simply a record-keeping device. Titled the 2007 Baseball Schedule and Record Keeper (180 pages, 118x plastic spiralbound, ($18.95), this item allows the handicapper to record results and details about every game for the entire season. These records include the starters for both sides, the final score, the money line and the total, the home plate umpire, how much was wagered. There's a section for notes that could help those tracking number of strikes and number of pitches or the fact the starter was knocked out early, ejected, injured or if an error impacted the final score.

The record-keeping grid includes the day (Saturday, Sunday, etc.) the game will be played and the date are listed for each game as is the location. There is room for listing rainouts and games rescheduled for other reasons.

Overall, this is a much-needed organizer for those who tend to become a bit disorganized during the more than 2,000 games to be played this season.

Phil Erwin of Portland, OR, who has been at the helm of Baseball Insight for decades, has his Baseball Insight Annual 2007 (201 pages, 5x8 plastic spiralbound, $32.95) ready. This resource offers a look at the 2006 season game by game for each team. You can see who flopped immediately as the season began and which teams put together impressive winning streaks after the All Star game.

Game by game, you get the opening line and total, who the starters were, where the game was played, whether it was day or night, on grass or turf. You also see how many innings the home starter went, the amount of innings the bullpen went and number or earned runs allowed by the starter and bullpen, unearned runs allowed and which starters were lefties.

For some researchers, there are indicators a team is beginning to hit or their starting pitching has collapsed.

Erwin tells you how each team performed overall at home, at night or during the day; on the road versus lefties; on grass; against groundball, flyball or power pitchers. He also lets you know how often a team went over or under eight runs a game for the past three seasons for or over 11 runs a game. It's all listed.

From page 169 on the book concentrates on starting pitchers (all pitchers who started five or more games in 2006). Here you'll find each hurler's earned run average and record against all other teams, and there's a breakdown on performance on grass, turf, day, night, home, away, how often they went over or under, how they did against above .500 or below.500 teams. Erwin has assigned game ratings to each pitcher based on strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed as well as innings pitched and hit allowed.

There's a five-point maximum and if a pitcher failed to go five innings, he gets a zero rating for the game regardless of hits, walks, strikeouts or homers.

Read this one before the season starts; it'll prepare you better to compare pitchers from last season to this one and possibly get ready for a spot where, for example, one pitcher seems to dominate another team no matter what the line or circumstances.

Any item reviewed here is available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club). The store's web site is www.gamblersbook.com. You may order there using MasterCard, VISA or Discover (no CODs please) or by phoning the store any day except Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time at 1-800-522-1777. Orders usually shipped the next working day. The store, now in its 40th year, is located a mile from downtown Las Vegas, a block west of Maryland Parkway, just off Charleston Boulevard at South 11th Street. You may view the store's complete array of books, videos and software via the Web site or request a hard copy of the catalog be mailed free and first class. The store's address is 630 S. 11th St., Las Vegas, NV 89101.

Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com