Weekly MLB Underdog Report
by Matt Foust - 06/16/2008
If you played the dogs this week than it is probably safe to say that you came out ahead of the sports book. It might be safe to label this past week "The Week of the Dog" as the 'little guys' won at almost a 50 percent clip. Hopefully, there will be more and even better to come, but for now let's enjoy this moment and check out the numbers.
The week of 6/6/08 through 6/12/08 featured 96 games. Teams receiving favorable odds dug a little deeper these past few days and pulled out 44 wins for a .460 win percentage. Our previous report saw road dogs win at a 33-percent rate and this week they improved that to 45 percent by winning 31 times in 69 underdog attempts. Home dogs also improved from the previous week, upping their win percentage from .390 to .480 by pulling out 13 victories in 27 mutt opportunities.
Dog(s) of the Week:
Last week the San Diego Padres claimed the underdog title. The Padres retained the title this week by going three-for-three as an underdog. The Phillies, however, will be sharing the title this week too, as they also went three-for-three when receiving favorable odds.
Let's take a look at how these teams were able to do this, starting with San Diego. It appears that the oddsmakers are certainly up with the times considering that in the week prior to this one the Padres were featured as a dog seven times. This week, however, the sports books were still a little slow in catching on to two teams (Padres and Mets) headed in opposite directions. You can't really blame them; seven of San Diego's twelve wins as a dog have come in the past two weeks. Where you can place culpability on them is in regard to the Mets. They presented New York as a road favorite in all four games versus San Diego. The Mets had lost seven of their last 10 road games going into San Diego and on the year they are 13-21 away from Shea Stadium. The Padres received odds anywhere from +101 to +133 in the Mets series.
The Phillies were posed as a dog in every game of their three game set with the Braves. This was somewhat understandable as Atlanta was 25-8 at home prior to Philadelphia sweeping them. The Phillies received odds anywhere from +103 to +135. Nobody saw Philadelphia getting the brooms out in Atlanta, but it was highly unlikely - as good as the Phillies are - that the Braves were going to sweep them either. Be mindful of the odds in a series like this, as well as the match-ups presented, and you can walk away with some cash.
Head Scratcher(s) of the Week:
There were a few games this past week that seemed a little perplexing in regard to what the odds makers were doing. I'll mention a couple of them that were pretty big payouts to the astute bettor.
One of the games I mentioned in last week's column as one to pay attention to. It was the game between the Orioles and Blue Jays in Toronto on June 6th. Baltimore was receiving odds as high as +170 and that really did not make any sense given the teams and the situation. As I stated, the Orioles had won three of their last five in Toronto and the Jays were 0-2 against Baltimore when Marcum had started for them at the Rogers Centre. Orioles starter Brian Burres had also pitched well when facing the Blue Jays in Toronto. Baltimore won the game 6-5 as a great underdog value play.
The second game that was a tad confusing took place between the Cardinals and Reds on the eleventh. St. Louis saw odds as high as +145 in some books, making them a good value given the circumstances. The Cardinals had won four of their last seven road games and 12 of their last 18 overall. The only reason the Cards were such a big dog was due to the fact the Cincinnati had won the last four home games in which Johnny Cueto took the hill. However, while Cueto had pitched well, he was not Cy Young and certainly capable of being hit by the St. Louis offense. Also, St. Louis had won three of the last five games that Braden Looper took the mound for them on the road. The Red Birds won the game 10-0.
Be careful of numbers like those of Cueto. While they certainly may have some validity look a little deeper as to why the Reds had won those four home starts - it may have been an anomaly too. At least don't let it scare you away from a good value play with a good team.
A Look Ahead:
This week features the second round of inter-league action and - as always - keep an eye out for teams in the home underdog role. American League teams were 11-6 at home in the first round of inter-league games so keep on eye out for this situation, but understand that nothing is a given.