MLB Totals Betting: How Low Can Totals Go?
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 6/22/2011
When setting MLB totals, oddsmakers used to be able to throw a dart somewhere between eight and nine runs and feel pretty confident, for the most part.
Those days are long gone.
Living in a post-steroid world and with cavernous digs like Petco Park and Safeco Field and with elite pitchers and just awful lineups, the comfort zone for MLB totals has been stretched to the limit.
Already this season bettors have witnessed a total as low as 5.5. As MLB totals are regularly being set outside of the comfort zone of seven to nine runs, bettors are getting used to the new norm.
Oftentimes it looks like oddsmakers are overcompensating for the circumstances by lowering totals significantly. But if seasoned veterans know anything, it is not too second guess the books.
And this year the oddsmakers have been right on.
On Thursday, May 19, three games on the MLB slate featured ‘over/unders’ of 6.5. All three games went ‘under’ the total. Not only did all three games stay ‘under,’ but in those three games the six teams involved scored a combined eight runs.
Since May 19 the ‘under’ has gone an astonishing 29-11 in games with a total of 6.5 or less. That includes the Seattle at San Diego game that featured an ‘over/under’ of 5.5 and a final score of 4-0.
There are teams like Seattle that are accustomed to seeing totals of 6.5. In a recent six-game homestand the oddsmakers set the total at 6.5 for all six games, five of those six stayed ‘under’ the total. Most of that has to do with Safeco Field, a haven for pitchers.
Other times the total has to do with specific pitchers like reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay. The highest total set for a game he has started this year was 7.5. Despite playing in a batter’s ballpark and with a great offensive lineup on his side, Halladay has been a part of three games with a total of 6.5 or less and all three games stayed ‘under’ the total.
Already this week the ‘under’ is 6-1 in games with a total of 6.5 or less. Even when the oddsmakers appear to overcorrect for great pitching and big ballparks by lowering the total below seven, there is still plenty of value in the ‘under.’ Scoring seven runs just is not as easy as it used to be.
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