MLB Handicapping: Oddsmakers Giving Nationals Too Much Respect
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 7/21/2009
The Washington Nationals trotted out one of the most misguided rosters in Major League history this season. Their pitching staff ranks amongst the worst of all time. Through 92 games the Nationals were 26-66, 40 games under .500, 27 games out of first place and came out of the gates after the all-star break by losing five straight games.
Yet all the previously stated stats have not been enough to deter the oddsmakers from keeping the Nationals from being astronomical underdogs in every game. The Nationals have even been favored recently.
It seems that Las Vegas is sitting around waiting for the Nationals to turn things around.
Bettors fading the Nationals all season have made a nice chunk of change mostly because only rarely have they had to lay outrageous odds to bet against the Major's worst team.
Whether they want to or not the Nationals still have over 60 games to play this season and it will be interesting to see the stance the oddsmakers take with this squad as they fall deeper under .500.
Even with 92 games played already, the fact that the Nationals have been favored 20 times lets you know that not even Las Vegas can figure out this team. In the 20 games Washington has been favored it has gone 6-14. There may be no greater value out there than taking an underdog team against the Nationals. As the season continues on many bettors that have continued to fade the Nationals are waiting for the gravy train to end but occasionally the books have the Nationals favored.
This past Monday evening the Nationals were -126 hosting the Mets, who quickly jumped on the Nationals 5-0 and won 6-2. There seems to be no rhyme or reason why the Nationals have been favored lately but smart bettors should keep an eye out for those lines.
Even more surprising than the Nationals already being favored 20 games this year is the lack of huge numbers bettors would have to lay to fade them. Only six times has Washington been posted as a +200 underdog or more. In those games the Nats are 1-5.
Situations like those will arise as August and September approach, but high numbers should not be a deterrent when looking to bet against Washington. Opting for the MLB run line to offset high prices in betting against the Nationals will not payoff in the long run if trends continue as they are. Of the Nationals 66 losses this season, 16 have been by one-run, making the run line a losing proposition in those occasions.
It's tough to go wrong when betting against the Nationals but there are times when betting against them makes more sense than usual. The teams that know them the best, their NL East rivals, have gone a staggering 32-8 against them. On the road Washington is worse than usual, owners of a 10-35 road record. Against righties alone the Nationals are 30 games under .500.
Make no mistake there have been bad teams before in the MLB and fading last place teams is not the way to consistently make a profit.
In four games against the Chicago Cubs and one game against the New York Mets and Houston Astros each, the Nationals were outscored 37-13. In that span the Nationals were favored twice and the biggest underdogs they were the entire time was +128 against the Cubs.
As long as the oddsmakers keep the prices in line, which they have all season, then watching the Nationals lose for the rest of the summer could be an easy way to build a bankroll.
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