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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Pitching Aces Focuses on Starters; Illman Deciphers Maidens, Juveniles

17 February 2005

This past week welcomed two fresh titles to the Gambler's Book Shop inventory -- Phil Erwin's "Pitching Aces 2005" (153 pages, spiralbound, $22.95) and Dan Illman's "Betting Maidens & 2-Year-Olds" (212 pages, paperbound, $14.95).

Erwin's work is a much-anticipated annual labor of love. In the book, he compiles the output of more than 140 starting pitchers on behalf of those who'll be betting on them. For more than two decades he has been one of the premier baseball statistical compilers in the business and it's the details he provides that make his annual so popular. He tells you what a pitcher's lifetime earned-run average is against every team in both leagues; what that pitcher's won-loss record is for the past three years against each major league team, home and away; their ERA for the past three years against each team; and the number of runs he got in support when he pitched. He tells you how many of the pitcher's appearances were quality starts and what the bullpen's ERA was after he left a game.

Wondering who has good early-season performances? Erwin lists how each pitcher performed by the month for the past three seasons; how each did on grass vs. turf, day vs. night, home vs. away. He shows how a pitcher did against the money line for the past three years, as favorite, dog; at home or away; and in over-under situations overall, in summary.

Erwin also rates starters by the percentage of games where they were dominant or had a disastrous start. For example, Erwin says "The best pitchers will have 4s or 5s most of the time. Last year Johann Santana had 32 such dominating starts in his 36 starts. The best guys will have 15 percent or fewer disaster starts ..."

Overall, this is a super statistical compilation to prepare for your 2005 baseball betting season or even for the fantasy leaguer looking for short, compact easy reference guide.

Dan Illman's book "Betting Maidens & 2-Year-Olds" should appeal to those who love to specialize and those who have thirsted for more than has ever been in print about these young contenders.

The book's back-cover description gets to the point quickly: "Readers will learn about first-time starters and experienced maidens on dirt and turf, paddock inspections, trainer/jockey combinations, Beyer Pars ... Illman covers everything from yearling auctions to form cycles for older maidens, taking you from the first baby races of the spring all the way through the Breeder's Cup and Juvenile Fillies."

The work contains 17 chapters and is well-priced at $14.95. Illman seems to know what bettors want. He delivers interesting tips on workouts and how to spot a "star in the making"; he tells you what body language to watch for when they're on the track (although I'd like to see some illustrations along with the text); and he underlines the importance of recordkeeping. One important chapter delves into turf maidens (leading turf-debut sires and trainers) where an astute handicapper might find some double-digit payoffs if he or she is patient enough. And for those who see pedigree as a major factor, he offers many examples of who to watch for among sires and dams.

Illman loves the game. You can see it in his writing and the energy he imparts--there's a sense of optimism and enthusiasm. The chapter titled "Projecting Drastic Improvement With Angles" is one of the more interesting, describing situations to watch for like Second-Time Starters; First-Time Lasix; Trip Handicapping; First-Time Fast Track; First-Time Routing; and when to "raise the red flags" in regard to older maidens (translation: when to eliminate them as contenders).

Overall, a worthy addition to your handicapping library.
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