With spring training in full swing, it’s time to prepare for the MLB season. Football is way back in the rearview mirror, college basketball is winding down, and the NBA is filled with meaningless games between teams with no shot at making the playoffs. I’ll give you a few tips below as to what you should look for before Opening Day rolls around. This should help you get off to a fast start, which will pave the way to a long, profit-filled campaign.

Roster Changes

It’s easy to keep up with the big names in free agency and trades. But if you really want to get an edge on your book, then you must spot the roster changes that go under the radar.  Key players returning from injuries is another factor to look into. Keeping up to date on how healthy they are in spring training and when they are expected to become an everyday player is huge.

Fade the Hype Early

The key to winning early in the season is to find value by fading over-hyped teams and backing squads that are under the radar. Oddsmakers set their lines off of public perception, and when the public is all over a team then you are going to have to bet more to win less on those teams. Certainly the Nationals and Dodgers are two teams worthy of the hype, but I would feel confident in saying that you are going to lose money over the first month of the season by betting on these teams. That’s because you are going to have to lay -200 to -300 juice on them in a lot of games.

Turning a profit in baseball is not all about finding the winning teams or the ones that you think will “surprise” folks. It’s about knowing as much as you can about each team, their pitchers and players that you want to bet against in certain situations. It’s just as easy to fade a team that you believe it is going to lose 90 games rather than backing a team that you see winning 90 games. All I’m saying is, don’t fall for the hype. You’re better off going against it as there will be value to be had.

General Tips

Be sure to grade each team’s pitching staff at the beginning of the season. Successful baseball betting relies more on the quality of a pitching staff than any other factor. From the starters to the bullpen, make sure you have a good feel for every team. Studying managers can help you prosper as well. This is especially important with new managers who have just been hired. Find out why the previous skipper was fired, and decide whether the new head man is capable of addressing the issues the team was having the previous year.

Changes in pitching and hitting coaches can also have a huge impact on teams, so don’t sleep on this. Keep up on divisional strength and decide which teams are the strongest and weakest in each division. By doing so, you will have an advantage because teams play other squads in their division more than any other. Baseball is a game of statistics, so learning all of the Sabermetrics that go along with the game can greatly benefit your bankroll. Take time in the offseason to go over all of the stats that can contribute to winning baseball.

Follow Spring Training & Injuries

Find promising pitchers who are under the radar. There are numerous guys out there that would be classified in this category. Just the same, finding promising young hitters can help you prosper as well. Throughout spring training, you are going to want to keep up to date on which players are winning key position battles.

Monitoring older players is another key. Try to decide whether they are washed up or if they have another good season in them. As stated before under “Roster Changes”, it’s important to monitor players who are coming back from injuries. There are many players out there that will have huge impacts on their teams whether or not they can stay healthy.  Troy Tulowitzki is a prime example of that kind of player every year for the Rockies as he just cannot seem to stay healthy, but when he is, he’s an MVP candidate.