The sports seasons are all buzzing about getting started for 2020. They all seem to have varying degrees of how they will approach the season, but I believe one thing that will resound true is that each league will have a shorter or shortened preseason. MLB started its Spring Training games, NFL has yet to commence, and NBA looks like a December start so as the 2020 season gets started, the time frame for preseason games will be shorter. I believe that the fan will enjoy this aspect but as bettors and investors, we need to look deeper to see if there is an impact that may be unseen or an edge we can find.
What is the offseason and what is preseason? The offseason tends to be for the athlete/player to improve on developing physical qualities. These include strength, endurance, speed, mobility, stability, and flexibility to name a few. The player is trying to be more physically capable of competing at the highest levels. The leadership (coaches and managers) are studying their sport, the teams, and their team. They are answering questions about where the team rates in their division, what improvements can be made, are there needs, are there minor league or new draftees that can make an impact, etc. The leaders are working to plan for everyone so each player will have a role and know how to get better individually and how they will fit in to make the team better.
The preseason is the implementation of the offseason plan. It allows the leadership to verify the plan works and that players can execute it. In general, the plan should be given opportunities to be achieved but if there are issues, it should be adjusted. The preseason is full of assessments. Are the players understanding what to do? Are the coaches calling the right plays? Is the team working cohesively as one unit? Practice will provide a gauge to a degree, but there is no substitution for the game action. In the heat of the moment, players can be identified properly due to the competition level of a game.
Based on the importance of the offseason and the preseason, we just proved they are vital to the health and growth of teams and players. This season we have 5 new NFL Coaches, 10 new MLB coaches, and a shortened preseason. The newness to a team generally sets back the younger players because they do not have an opportunity to show improvement year over year to earn a starting spot. Managers will tend to rely on the proven asset rather than the unproven asset. NFL teams with new QBs will go through rusty spots until there are relationships built between the QB and his receivers. These are areas where we as bettors need to be looking for an edge. We should be identifying these teams, so we are ready at the begging of the season to play against them. Some teams that come to mind in the NFL are Tampa Bay (QB Brady), Carolina (QB Bridgewater), LA Chargers (QB Taylor), Indianapolis (QB Rivers), etc. The new coaches include DAL McCarthy, NYG Judge, CLE Stefanski, CAR Rhule, and WSH Rivera. MLB has PHI Girardi, LA Angels Maddon, KC Matheny, SF Kapler, CHC Ross, PIT Shelton, SD Tingler, NYM Rojas, BOS Roenicke, and HOU Baker. All these leadership changes require the study of the players and, they just won’t have much 1st hand knowledge of the young guys. Today’s leagues are comprised mainly of youthful superstars. The young players have taken over the game since the HGH testing has eliminated much of the tenure in the game. BOS Roenicke does have a slight edge here as he was with the team last season, so he does know the players and they know him. Imagine a veteran QB having to come into a new system with a new coaching staff that hasn’t yet completely understood how the contributions will be dispersed. Imagine being a player like LA Angel Joe Adel. HE is primed to be a superstar, but he has yet to break camp on the major league roster. What if he just does not hit in the first couple of preseason weeks? He will likely have to wait.
Our edge as bettors come in knowing these situations. Teams that have lots of change and or youthful players will have needed the preseason more than the teams that have had continuity. We might be able to catch the sportsbooks line leaning to the talent that will likely come through but not until they have had time gel as a team. Early in the season, this will apply. As the season progresses, the player's performance will normalize as the repetitions have improved consistency. Stay sharp by identifying as many conditions to watch as possible. Do not overdo it but know there will be preseasons where teams did not get the proper work in and just are not good out of the gate. Let’s be on the lookout for these and capitalize accordingly.