Sunday, the South Korean government announced that KBO franchises could open their stadiums to fans on a limited basis later this week as long as safety protocols are met.
Full attendance is still a long way off. The initial target is for 30% attendance, hopefully rising to 50% in the near future. Fans will be required to wear masks. Cheering will likely be banned to discourage transmission of airborne particles that could get through masks.
What does this mean for sports handicappers and bettors? While players will likely be glad to see fans, home-field advantage has already been fairly large this season in empty stadiums. Throwing out head-to-head games between the Doosan Bears and LG Twins, who share Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, hosts have a record of 122 wins, 102 losses vs. visitors.
That’s a winning percentage of .5446, roughly the same as -120 on a no-juice money line. Based on that data through almost two months of action, a host facing an evenly matched opponent would be a -130 favorite using a standard 20-cent line (underdog returns plus 110). Most sports books use a 30-cent line for the KBO, meaning the host would be -135, the underdog plus 105).
So, don’t assume that real crowd noise will significantly increase home field advantage. Be sure you monitor home/road splits on a daily basis before backing your theories with cash.
NC DINOS DODGE DANGEROUS DOOSAN
Those aforementioned home/road splits were softened over the weekend because the league leading NC Dinos were on the road, while the cellar-dwelling SK Wyverns and Hanwha Eagles were at home. NC won two of three…the dregs lost two of three. Let’s quickly review the weekend…
*NC moved to 32-14 on the season after a see-saw series at Doosan. NC won Friday 9-3, Doosan Saturday 12-3, NC Sunday 5-0. Not a lot of drama. The Bears fell to 28-19, now 4.5 games off the pace.
Doosan’s explosive offense will crush soft pitching. But, consistent offense is more important for teams and bettors. Last week, Doosan averaged 6.3 runs per game. But, it could only manage a 3-3 won-lost record because the runs were sequenced 9-14-0-3-12-0. You can’t win with zero, and it’s hard to win at three or less. The 9, 14, and 12 featured a lot of superfluous runs that padded stats more than anything.
Recreational bettors tend to over-bet explosive offenses in ALL sports because average scoring looks so impressive. Don’t fall into the trap of loading up on inconsistent teams. Doosan’s great slugging was shutout twice in the last four games! And, only resulted in a 9-9 record the last 18 games.
*The Kiwoom Heroes stayed in second place by winning two of three vs. the Kia Tigers. Both victories were low-scoring shutouts, 2-0 Saturday and 1-0 Sunday. Kiwoom is 10-1 its last 11 outings, 20-7 its last 27, and sits three games behind NC (and 1.5 in front of Doosan) at 30-18. Kia fell to 24-21.
*A well timed series against the uncompetitive SK Wyverns helped the LG Twins bust a slump. LG took two of three, also winning a pair of weekend shutouts. The Twins won 3-0 Saturday, 4-0 Sunday.
LG had lost six straight entering the series (which became seven after dropping the opener), but is now a game behind third-place Doosan at 27-20. Note that the Twins are 13-2 vs. SK and Hanwha, but 14-18 vs. everyone else. SK falls to 14-33, posting a 3-14 record its last 17 games.
*Samsung continued its profitable ways, taking two of three as underdogs at Lotte. The Lions were priced in the range of 140 in Friday’s 6-4 win, and 125 in Saturday’s 6-1 victory. Samsung is now 11-6 its last 17 games while being money-lined as a non-contender. Lotte is 22-23.
*Finally, the KT Wiz won two of three at helpless Hanwha. KT is eighth in the standings at 21-26. Hanwha still brings up the rear at 12-36.
THAT’S $AM$UNG, WITH DOLLAR SIGNS
Let’s update the standings that matter most to sports bettors. Samsung’s two wins as underdogs pushed it further ahead of the league table according to records compiled by VSiN’s database guru Jason Latus.
Samsung: plus 9.3 units
NC: plus 6.9 units
Kiwoom: plus 3.4 units
Only three teams are in the black as we approach the 50-game mark. And, Kiwoom had to get red hot lately to join the list. Keep Samsung on your list of sleepers until results suggest otherwise. As we’ve mentioned a few times…Samsung’s brutal early schedule helped hide competitive quality.
Kia: -0.9 units
LG: -1.45 units
Doosan: -1.55 units
Lotte: -1.9 units
A quick reminder about Lotte’s home/road split. The Giants are 14-7, plus 6.35 units at home, but 8-16, -8.25 units on the road. Teams that juice out overall can still offer juicy morsels in certain situations.
In the Red
KT: -6.6 units
SK: -18.6 units
Hanwha: -18.7 units
Longtime bettors will remind you its difficult to grind out a profit against 30-cent lines. Your best hope is to find developments that the overall market is slow to recognize. Early this season…that was the rise of the NC Dinos and the stunning collapses of SK and Hanwha. More recently, the improved play from Samsung and Kiwoom, and the inability of LG to perform vs. quality opponents.
GUT CHECK AT GOCHEOK
The Skydome home of the Kiwoom Heroes will feature a marquee matchup Tuesday through Thursday when Doosan comes to visit. Those are the #2 and #3 teams in the current standings. Note that Tuesday’s and Thursday’s games will be shown live by ESPN at 5:30 a.m. ET (2:30 a.m. in Las Vegas).
Also this week:
Lotte at NC
KT at LG
SK at Samsung
Hanwha at Kia
It will be great to see fans in the stands in televised baseball games. And, we’re less than a month away from that happening with MLB here in the United States if health conditions permit.