MLB Handicapping: Surprises and Disappointments
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 5/17/2011
There is little debate over who the biggest disappointment in baseball is this season and who is the biggest surprise, but there is some debate over what to do next in terms of a betting strategy.
The Cleveland Indians were not expected to do much of anything this season except lose. The Minnesota Twins were expected to compete for yet another division crown.
Instead the Indians are doing their best Minnesota impersonation and vice versa. To the surprise of everyone, Cleveland has the best record in baseball at 25-13 and also, to the surprise of everyone, Minnesota has the worst record in baseball at 12-27.
The Cleveland Indians have returned $100 bettors a whopping $1,572 already this season. That is more than $700 better than the next best bet (Florida, +$800). If you have wagered $100 on Minnesota every game this season you are incredibly optimistic and persistent, but also down $1418.
So it’s clear to see who was a wise and not-so-wise investment through the first month and a half of baseball. The fear moving forward for bettors is that there is no more value with Cleveland after it has proved itself as a legitimate contender, at least through the middle of May, and the fear with buying the Twins low is that they are too low and may not recover.
With the length of the baseball season, oddsmakers are generally slow-moving when it comes to making a constant underdog a favorite and vice versa. Considering that, there is still plenty of value with Cleveland, even though you would be buying high, and there is plenty of new found value in Minnesota, a classic buy-low scenario.
Cleveland opened the season as an underdog in a remarkable 14 consecutive games, hence the large profit. Since then, Cleveland has been an underdog more times (13) than not (11), and when they are favored, the line is rarely above -120, so you are not laying that much.
There are very few teams in baseball that could be 12 games above .500 at this point in the season and still routinely fetch prices between +150 and -130. Bettors should take advantage of that regardless of the fact that it is Cleveland and you probably cannot name two players on their team.
In terms of Minnesota, this is a tougher sell. Minnesota has been an underdog in 32 of 39 games this season and with good reason. The Twins have lost nine a row. This comes on the heels of a six-game losing streak.
The Twins have lost a staggering 70 percent of their games. They simply cannot keep that rate up, even if they tried. This is a group with an established pitching staff that has to eventually come around, especially with the likes of Carl Pavano and Scott Baker.
After missing the last 30 games this season with a viral infection, offensive leader and team leader Joe Mauer is taking batting practice and appears to be close to coming back. His return would further boost the value of Minnesota.
The two teams are worlds apart, but Cleveland and Minnesota both present an opportunity to bettors to take advantage of an overachiever and an underachiever.
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