How No Fans In The Stands Are Affecting Play In The MLB
Major League baseball (MLB) is back in full swing, but with a noticeable difference due to Covid-19 – the absence of fans in the stands. This change has been downright awry to watch with fan cutouts or computer-generated fans in the stands. Not to mention stadiums across the country have been compensating for the lack of fans with artificial crowd noise. These attempts to normalize the viewers experience at home are worthy and help bring some semblance of normal to this unusual season.
One of the biggest questions coming in was how will no fans in the stands affect the sports betting world? Would a MLB handicapper’s strategy change due to the empty stadiums across baseball? This question certainly relies on the season to play the duration of its 60 games, for there to be statistical trends to observe. With 11 Miami Marlins players testing positive for Covid-19, that statement should be watched for weeks to come. The one factors that can be removed from capping MLB games this season is the home field advantage. Yes, road teams must travel while home teams get to sleep in their own beds for a homestand, but the lack of fans will dampen the home favorite theory. Many players across baseball regularly rely on their home fans supports to fuel them to victory, and without them, it is like the game is being played at a neutral site.
There have been two main takeaways that have been observed over the first weekend plus of MLB’s return. The lack of fans will greatly affect closing pitchers and will even out the records of teams. First, over the first weekend there were 17 blown saves, and multiple closers going down with significant injuries. The reason for this may be that their source of energy and adrenaline has been lowered by the absence of fans. Even with expanding the rosters to thirty, the most important person in each teams bullpen is the closer and many across baseball have struggled thus far. Also, there were no undefeated or defeated teams after the first three days of the major league baseball season. The parity throughout the league has improved because of the sixty-game sprint most likely, but also because of the complete lack of home field advantage. Anybody can win on any given night.
Another trend to observe through the next week plus is how no fans will affect over/unders this season. With the shortened season and abbreviated summer camps for teams, many believed that the hitters would have the upper hand on pitchers early on. However, many hitters have struggled out of the gate, and pitchers have found success. On Opening Day, Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks blanked the Brewers in a complete game shutout. Shane Bieber K’d 14 Royals on Friday night in a 2-0 Indians victory. Hendricks and Bieber are both proven from end of the rotation guys, but it proves that pitchers across baseball may be further along than many believed. The absence of fans has allowed pitchers to settle in more on the road or even at home without the anxiety of pitching in front of 40,000 fans each night. Overall, the sample size may be too small this early, but lean the unders in this shortened MLB season, especially if the total number exceeds 10.
This 60 game MLB season will look, feel, and sound a lot different. Fans have been at the stadium for games behind locked doors have the likes of Progressive Field in Cleveland and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The one hope that all bettors across the country hold is that there will be a full 60 game season to bet on this year.