Bettors smart enough to back the Tigers often this year have seen their bankroll grow at a remarkable rate as Detroit, who boast a MLB-best 35-15 mark, have far and away been the most profitable team to wager on through the first quarter of the baseball season.
A $100 wager on Tigers to win in each of their first 50 games resulted in a profit of $1,970 -- nearly 70 percent better than the $1,178 you would have gotten on the second best bet -- the 29-20 Arizona Diamondbacks.
Both the Tigers and Diamondbacks have also proven profitable to those who prefer the run line, with the Tigers turning a profit of $1361 and the Diamondbacks $1001.
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While the Tigers might very well continue their winning ways, their profitability will diminish now that it's apparent they are better than anyone would have guessed at the start of the season so those losses are going to start costing bettors more as the winning continues.
The other surprises among the most profitable teams are the Reds and Rockies, who, like the Tigers and Diamondbacks, have so far exceeded expectations. The Reds at 28-22 have shown a profit of better than $650 -- good for seventh best, ahead of the Rockies who at 26-24 are at plus $553.
A winning record doesn't necessarily guarantee profitability. A $100 wager on the 28-20 Yankees over the first 48 games would have resulted in a $100 loss. This of course is due to the Yanks not only being the favorite most days but often a heavy one. This is largely on reputation and the trend is already beginning to turn a bit as evidenced by Randy Johnson finding himself in the uncharacteristic spot of money line underdog in each of this last two starts -- both Yankee wins.
The Yanks have posted run line mark of 26-22 through Sunday and have been good for a $443 profit, an indication that they will score a lot of runs and when they do win they generally do so convincingly.
The Mets, who at 30-19 have shown a profit of $700 on the money line -- good for sixth best in all of baseball -- are among the worst teams to bet on the run line, showing a loss of $700. This is due mostly to their league best 14-6 record in one-run games. While one-run games have a tendency to even out over the long haul, this is a trend that could continue due to the Mets very good bullpen which might actually get better if closer Billy Wagner improves on his rocky start.
There are few surprises among the list of money burners, which is headed by the woeful Royals who at 11-37 through Sunday, yielding a money line deficit of better than $1700 and a run line deficit of nearly $1,200. When the Royals do manage a victory backers are rewarded with a hefty payout like the plus $340 Friday against the Yankees, but it is hard to imagine anyone finding cause to bet these guys at this point.
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The Pirates are the second biggest money burner at minus $1668, but have actually posted a $14 profit on the run line, an indication that the Bucs, with a 5-15 record in one-run games, are involved in a lot of close games. It might be worth watching the Pirates as the season progresses because if they can start to win some of those one-run games they could become a profitable proposition on the money line where the odds are going to be large.
The Cubs at minus $1500, Marlins at minus $1200 and Angels at minus $1040 are also among the worst teams to wager on the money line.
The Astros are the worst run line bet in baseball at minus $1700, followed by the Twins at minus $1585.
Some other notable trends that have developed through the first quarter of the season are:
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- The Red Sox, like the Mets are a good money line bet at plus $762 but are negative on the run line at minus $128.
- No team with a sub 500 record has show a money line profit, though the Devil Rays, with a mark of 21-30, are only showing a deficit of about $150. This of course is because the Rays wins are coming at healthy prices.
- The Mariners, with a 22-30 overall record are 29-23 in money line plays for a profit of $350.
- Keep an eye on the Atlanta Braves, who have a 27-23 record despite playing the fewest home games in the majors. In Atlanta the Braves are 12-6, but on the road through Sunday are 15-17.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's MLB picks service.