Weekly MLB Underdog Report
by Matt Foust - 07/04/2008
This week the underdogs continued to generate more bang for fewer bucks. The last couple of weeks have been strong for the perceived weak and this week was no different. At one point, line dogs won 17 games in 30 opportunities with returns ranging anywhere from +100 to +159. Not too bad for a couple of days work, let's see how they fared in the other five days.
This week's report covers the games that started on June 27 and ended on July 3. There were 98 games, of the 101 played, that featured a money line with positive odds. Our favorite teams won 43 times in those 98 chances for a win percentage of 44 percent.
It may have been a coincidence, we shall see in the coming weeks, but the conclusion of Interleague Play also saw the end of road dogs winning at a higher percentage than home dogs. While road hounds still returned a respectable 40 percent this week, home teams getting favorable odds won 15 times in 31 opportunities (48 percent).
Dog(s) of the Week:
This week's prestigious titleholder is none other than the last place Mariners. Seattle managed to pull out five wins in seven positive odds opportunities. They began the week by sweeping the Padres in San Diego, and they finished it by facing the Blue Jays and Tigers at home.
In the Padres series, the Mariners received odds of +124, +130, and +127. Much like last week where the Twins abused the Padres, Seattle backers took advantage of the perception that San Diego had the better pitching matchups. The Mariners had even won an earlier series between the two clubs in Seattle, but oddsmakers still favored the Padres. Astute bettors no doubt observed the AL dominance in interleague matchups while salivating over the lines in this series.
This week's honorable mention goes to the Texas Rangers, who won four out of six playing as a dog. The Rangers took two out of three at home against the Phillies and two out of three on the road against the slumping Yankees. In their two New York wins, Texas had odds of +173 and +185.
Head Scratcher(s) of the Week:
Honestly, there were not a lot of ridiculous lines this week. There was certainly some big payout winners, but even in those games the logic behind the initial odds was fairly evident. However, things were not perfect for the bookmakers and, as usual, we found a flaw.
This week's oddsmaker miscue did not sport an extraordinary return, but it was big enough - given the matchup - to take the title. The game took place on June 29 between the Giants and Athletics.
San Francisco, as a losing team playing on the road, received odds of +125. A closer look reveals that the San Francisco odds should have been more like +105.
The Giants sent starter Jonathan Sanchez to the hill while Oakland countered with hurler Joe Blanton. While both teams were playing fairly well, the A's had only won three of Blanton's last 10 starts and just three of his last 10 home starts. The Giants, on the other hand, had won seven of Sanchez's last nine starts, including six of his last seven road starts. Prior to this game, Blanton had given up 21 earned runs in his previous five starts in just 29.6 innings of work. Sanchez? He had only allowed 13 earned runs in 33.6 innings of work over his previous five starts.
Be on the lookout for numbers like these. When a pitcher as good as Sanchez has been this year is getting odds of +125 or better, there is value in that play.
A Look Ahead:
Tonight's game between the Royals and Rays could be interesting. Kansas City is currently getting odds of +140 or better. KC starter Brain Bannister has been a Jekyll and Hyde of sorts this season, but when he's on he is solid. He has also been historically good pitching in domes although the sample is small. Last year he went eight innings and only allowed one earned run in Tampa. Despite the fact that the Rays are red hot, I think there is good value in the Royals at +140. KC is also 24-29 as a dog and 21-17 off of a win.
Saturday will feature a great pitching duel between John Lackey of the Angels and Roy Halladay of the Jays. The Angels are the superior club and they will be at home, but if oddsmakers get too crazy on this one do not be afraid to take Toronto. Anytime Toronto gets good odds with Halladay starting, they have value. He is usually going to keep the game close and if a pitcher does that his team has a chance to win.