MLB Betting: Top Earners and Losers
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 5/18/2010
It’s easy to see the early season surprises and disappointments in baseball by looking at which teams have earned their backers the most money and what teams have lost their backers the most. Almost a fourth of the way through the season, it’s a good idea to take a look at how much each team has earned or lost people who have bet $100 on them each game.
Of course, any bettor with the least bit experience knows that backing a team each game for the same amount is a quick way to burn through a payroll. But the money-earned-or-lost statistic is still a valuable betting tool.
The money won or lost is not completely indicative of a team’s win-loss record but it obviously has something to do with it. What the stat mostly rates is which teams are underachieving and who is overachieving.
The Washington Nationals have been the best bet in baseball this year. Through 39 games they are only 20-19, but because they have been an underdog in most of their games they have earned bettors $1062. Compare that to the Boston Red Sox who are 19-20, just one game behind Washington, but because of the high prices bettors have to pay to wager on Boston, the Red Sox have lost bettors $821, sixth worst in the league.
The top four earners in baseball have been the Nationals (+$1062), the Tampa Bay Rays (+$1013), the San Diego Padres (+$1005) and the Toronto Blue Jays (+$952). Out of the four teams only the Rays have earned as much by being dominant on the field. They own the best record in baseball at 27-11. The other three top-earning teams are only 15 games over .500 combined. They have done it by taking advantage of generous MLB lines.
The key now is to find out if these teams can keep it up and what kind of prices lay ahead for them. All four of the top earning teams rank in the bottom third of payroll in baseball. The Rays have spent the most (No. 20 in payroll) of the group and have a roster that has clearly shown it can compete. The Blue Jays (No. 21 in payroll) have the bats to keep this pace up and a more balanced team than in the past, while people may be smart to be skeptical of the Padres (No. 29 in payroll) and Nationals (No. 24 in payroll).
In terms of prices, the oddsmakers are far from jumping on the Nationals bandwagon. They have been underdogs in 27 consecutive games and have only been favored once this season. That being said even, if the Nationals start to fall under .500 they could easily still earn bettors money by just winning occasionally although that may be a hard proposition now as Washington has lost four in a row while dealing with injuries.
The oddsmakers have caught on to the Rays and to a lesser extent the Padres and Blue Jays. The Rays have been favored in 11 straight games. For Tampa Bay to continue to turn a profit it will have to keep up this torrid pace and that seems unlikely. Of the top earners, San Diego and, more importantly, Toronto seem to have the best long-term value.
Of the big losers so far this year, the Chicago Cubs are no surprise. They have lost the most this season, already down -$1348 for $100-per-game bettors. They are routinely the biggest losers because of their under-achieving ways, their high payroll (No. 3 in baseball) and the fact they are the most heavily wagered on team in baseball. The Cubs look to be a prime fade candidate for the remainder of the season. Even if they do inch closer to a winning record they will continue to be favored. They have been favored in nine consecutive games despite their 17-22 record.
Other big losers in baseball this season are Seattle (-$1115), Baltimore (-$1105), Milwaukee (-$983) and the other Chicago team, the White Sox (-$943). Unlike the top earners in baseball, these five teams all rank in the top 18 of payrolls in baseball.
Looking at those teams Seattle and Milwaukee look to have the best odds to turn things around. Both have playoff-caliber teams and the early season losing streaks have only helped their value as both teams are seeing friendlier money lines.
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