Which MLB Dogs Have the Biggest Bite?
by Matt Foust - 07/23/2008
Since we have been covering MLB dogs for seven weeks now, it's probably time for a little summary report to help prepare you for the second half of the season. There have been some good and bad weeks, but we've had enough time to at least see some solid trends develop. And who doesn't love some good trends when it comes to teams that return at positive odds?
We started tracking dog plays on May 30, and this summary will begin there and run through the July 17. In that time span there were 610 games played that had one team getting better odds - usually positive - than their opponent. Underdogs won 252 of those games for a 41 percent win percentage. Of those 610 games, 160 of them featured lines with a home dog. The belittled participants responded by winning 70 of those contests for a 44 percent return. Doing the math, that leaves 450 games with the 'out-of-towners' getting positive odds. These road dogs won 182 of those 450 games for a win percentage of 40 percent.
Each week we have had a 'Dog of the Week' selection, but for this report we are going to do something a little different. We have compiled a list of nine teams that have been featured as dogs the most times and we are going to give a break down of their performance. First up…
1. Florida Marlins. Yes, surprisingly the Marlins have been a dog 35 times in our examination period. This is likely a reflection of bookmakers waiting for them to come crashing back to earth. At the beginning of the season most people had them pegged for a last place NL East finish…they are not cooperating. As an underdog, Florida won 15 of the 35 (43 percent). The Marlins were a home dog nine times and they won four of those games (44 percent). As a road dog they won 11 of 26 for a 42 percent win ratio.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates were underdogs 33 times, 15 times at home and 18 times on the road. They won 13 overall (39 percent), with eight of those coming at home (53 percent) and five on the road (27 percent).
3. Seattle Mariners. The Mariners occupied the underdog role 31 times. They won 13 times for a 42 percent mark. At home they won only three out 10 games in which they were getting positive odds (30 percent), but on the road they snagged 10 wins in 21 dog opportunities (48 percent).
4. San Francisco Giants. The Giants were a dog 28 times and they came away with 10 wins. At home they were a miserable 2-of-11 (18 percent), which was they worst home dog percentage of any team. On the road they captured eight wins in 17 chances for a 47 percent return.
5. Washington Nationals. Washington was also a 28-time underdog (as are the rest of the players). The Nats were quite abysmal as a home dog too, winning just five times in 18 tries (28 percent). However, on the road they won at a stellar 50 percent clip (5-of-10).
6. San Diego Padres. The Padres were able to pull out nine wins in their 28 attempts as a dog. They won five of nine at home (56 percent) and just fou-of-19 on the road (21 percent). San Diego's road win percentage as a dog was the worst in the league during the sample period.
7. Kansas City Royals. KC scratched out 13 wins in their 28 tries for a 46 percent mark. At home they were listed as a dog nine times and they won five of those games (56 percent). Their road percentage, eight-of-19 for a 42 percent return, was decent too.
8. Texas Rangers. The hard-hitting Rangers blasted their way to 14 wins in 28 attempts. Amazingly, Texas was featured as a home dog 16 times, of which they won eight (50 percent). They also hit the 50 percent mark on the road too by winning six of 12.
9. Minnesota Twins. Minnesota, like Texas, won 15 times in their 28 chances as a dog. They were a home dog eight times, and they won five of those eight for a 63 percent finish. On the road they won 10 of 20 to secure a 50 percent win percentage.
It is pretty apparent from the data that quality teams getting positive odds at home are outstanding value plays. Of the nine teams listed, only three of them have winning records, but four of the nine returned at 50 percent or better as home dogs. The Marlins, one of the group with a winning record, hit 44 percent at home with positive odds.
On the road, all but two of the nine returned at 40 percent or higher. It is usually about the pitching on the road. If the starters are comparable and the run production numbers are similar, there is good value in a road dog most of the time.
Finally, just to illustrate the greatness of baseball's positive money line odds, let's look at the Twins numbers during this seven-week stretch. If a person were to have played $100 on the Twins every time they were featured as a dog (28) they would have made $339. Not a bad return for a smaller player, but what would a dime player have made? A dime player would have accumulated $3,380 in that same seven-week stretch on just one team.