Weekly MLB Underdog Report
by Matt Foust - 06/06/2008
All sports fans love a good dog, and, well, that has never been truer than in the sport of baseball. As any baseball bettor knows, there is cash to be made in finding the right mutt. Because of this we are going to take a weekly look at how MLB dogs performed, and why things may have played out as they did.
The games we are going to examine this week started on May 30 and extended through June 5. There were approximately 96 games played that featured positive odds for any given team. So, how did these teams perform? They were able to scratch out 33 wins, which is probably typical to slightly below the normal dog average.
This past week home dogs only accounted for 12 of the 33 dog wins; however, there were only 31 instances where a home team received favorable odds. This means that road dogs won at about a 33 percent clip while home dogs were pushing a 39 percent win percentage. We will see if this trend holds up as the season goes along.
Since you are wondering, I'm going to tell you. The San Diego Padres were this week's biggest dog winner. The Padres were a mutt in every single game they played this week and they received odds anywhere from +103 to +150. They came away with four wins in seven games. San Diego split at home while winning two out of three on the road against the Giants. The odds in their four wins: +107, +109, +103, +107. Granted, these aren't staggering, but they still pay well.
Why were the Padres a good dog play? They had lost just enough to earn some favorable odds, but they were starting to play a little better coming into the week. However, it probably had more to do with their first opponent. They started by facing a San Francisco team that was heading home after winning three straight road games against the Diamondbacks. This created the perception of two teams going in opposite directions. That perception was proven wrong, the Giants may have the better record (barely) but they are not a far superior club to San Diego. They are not so much better than San Diego that they should be getting negative odds for three straight games.
This brings us to the oddsmaker side of the equation. If there is a heavy tilt it's usually for a reason, and unless you have some pretty overwhelming evidence it's best to keep things a little closer to the vest. However, there are times when a line will make you scratch your head and ask why the odds are so out of whack. This is called finding value and we're going to be giving you the biggest head-scratcher on a weekly basis in hopes of helping you prepare for the coming week of action.
The biggest befuddler this week took place on the May 30 between the Diamondbacks and Nationals. Sure, the Nationals stink, but the situation did not warrant them being a +200. Despite Washington's lackluster record, there was certainly value in this play, and frankly, the oddsmakers as well as the betting public missed on this one in making the Nats such a tremendous dog. Why you ask? We'll start with the pitching matchup (Owings vs. Redding). Coming into the game, Arizona had lost six of Owings last 10 starts. Owings had averaged 5.82 innings pitched per game and 3.3 earned runs per game over those 10 games. Not the worst, but certainly not the kind of numbers that earn -180 to -200 odds. The Nationals, on the other hand, had won eight of Redding's last 10 starts, including the last three in a row. They were 5-5 in his last 10 road starts as well. Redding had historically performed poorly in Arizona, but his record and pedigree indicated that he should not be getting +180 to +200 odds when matched up against a pitcher like Owings.
Wait, there's more to this miscue. Arizona had lost four games in a row coming into their game with Washington, including their last three home games. The Nationals were boosting a pretty good record as a dog too. They were also 8-10 in the first game of series and 14-18 of a loss, which they had just done. Did all of these factors make Washington a sure-fire winner? No, but they did make them a great value at the +200 odds they were receiving at some sports books. Their 7-4 victory over the Diamondbacks certainly illustrated this.
Here are a few series/games to keep an eye on over the weekend: Kansas City at New York, Tampa Bay at Texas, and tonight's game between the Orioles and Blue Jays.
The Royals deservedly will be dogs in every game against the Yankees. Sunday's game could be a good time to think about KC, though. Zack Greinke will be facing Joba Chamberlain and I'm guessing KC will be getting lines anywhere from +115 to +130. Greinke has been solid all year despite being roughed up versus the White Sox in his last start. Anytime he goes for the Royals there is value.
The series between the Rays and Rangers will likely feature Texas as a dog in at least two of the three games. Texas could be a good value play as they are 22-23 as a dog and 16-14 at home.
Finally, the scrap tonight between the Orioles and Jays in Toronto has some good dog appeal. Baltimore is getting odds anywhere from +158 to +170. The O's have won three of their last five in Toronto and Jay's starter Shaun Marcum is 0-2 against Baltimore at the Rogers Centre. Also, Oriole lefty Brian Burres has allowed just two earned runs in 12 innings of work versus the Blue Jays in Toronto.