MLB Betting: Home Sweet Home
by Trevor Whenham - 05/31/2007
It seems illogical in many ways when you think about it, but it's undeniably true - many baseball teams are significantly better at home than they are on the road. I say it's illogical because these guys essentially travel for a living -- they fly in the best planes, eat the best food and stay in the finest hotels, so there shouldn't be a particular reason why they wouldn't be at their best on the road. Similarly, it's not like the hometown crowds are always big or boisterous, especially mid-week. All that aside, though, some teams are solid money makers at home and money pits when they aren't sleeping in their own beds. Here's a look at three of the biggest offenders.
Cleveland - The biggest discrepancy in this regard falls to the Indians. It is easy to argue that they are the best team in baseball if you only look at home games - they are 17-4. It's even more impressive if you consider that two of their losses came in the first six games, so they are 8-1 in May. The road has been nearly as disastrous as the home has been impressive, though. The 14-15 record is far from the worst in the league, but it is decidedly out of line with what the team is capable of.
There have certainly been some tough trips for Cleveland - they have been to Boston, Minnesota and Chicago, and they were in New York before the Yankees were quite as bad as they are now. That can't be viewed as an excuse, though - they have also lost series to Kansas City, Baltimore and a struggling A's team, and they managed to lose in Tampa Bay, too. How is a team that has won more games so far at home than any other team in the more than 100 years of baseball in Cleveland so decidedly average away from home? It just doesn't make any sense. You don't have to understand it, though. You just have to learn from it - the Indians have been by far the most profitable team in the league at home, and you have lost money for the privilege of betting them on the road. Until something changes, then, it only makes sense to only bet them in one stadium unless you have a good reason to do otherwise.
Baltimore - The Orioles are in second place in the AL East. That would be an accomplishment if their division wasn't so terribly bad, if they were over .500 or if they weren't 11.5 games out of first. Really, they are just currently the least troubled of a bad bunch. At home they are bordering on solid at 15-11 while on the road they are a dismal 10-16. Unlike the Indians, though, the team can legitimately use the schedule as an excuse for the differences. Their home mark has been fattened by sweeps against some pretty bad teams - Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Toronto. When they have faced legitimate teams at home things haven't gone nearly as well - they are just 3-6 combined against Detroit, Boston and Cleveland.
The road has been very tough. With the exception of easy series in Tampa Bay and Washington (which they took advantage of by going 4-2), they have had to deal with tough opponents like Boston, Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota. Things likely won't change much in June, either, thanks to tough trips to the Angels, San Diego and Arizona. Whereas Cleveland's disparity is difficult to explain, you can come to terms with Baltimore's problems just by accepting that they aren't a particularly good team. You need to pick your spots when betting on them regardless of where they are playing.
San Diego - It's not just the American League that features inconsistent teams. The Padres can certainly make a claim as well. Their 17-9 home record is second only to the Brewers in the National League, and it has been topped off by a sweep of those Brewers to end their most recent homestand. It's interesting to note, though, that the series against the Brewers was their only sweep of the year. The Indians, by contrast, have had five so far. That says to me that the Padres are solid, especially when their top pitchers are throwing, but they are far from dominant. That belief is reinforced by their road record, which is just 12-13.
What sticks out as well is the inconsistency on the road. They won three in a row in Florida, but then followed it right up by dropping three straight in Atlanta. They crushed Randy Johnson and his D-Backs, but then whimpered through two losses to the same team. They blew out the Dodgers once and were blown out by them twice in one series. It's hard to tell what you are going to get when they play away from Petco. Except for when Jake Peavy is on the mound. He has three wins, and the Padres have won his road games by a combined 19-6. Like the others on this list, the Padres have been quite profitable at home, and a loss on the road. If you are looking to compliment them you can say that they have cost bettors less than the other two teams. That's not enough to make them worth betting in most cases when away, though.