MLB's Top Hitting Teams and the Totals Line
by Dave Schwab - 5/30/2012
The 2012 MLB regular season is almost a third of the way into its 162-game schedule, so we now have more than enough figures and statistics on all 30 teams to gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. The key for baseball handicappers is to be able to use this information to gain an edge when researching a particular matchup, particularly in terms of wagering on the total line.
Oddsmakers set a total line primarily based on the game’s starting pitchers for that night, but a team’s ability to hit the ball and produce runs obviously has a major impact on the eventual outcome as well.
The following is a look at some current MLB betting trends as well as the correlation between a team’s ability to hit and score and its overall performance on the total line.
MLB Total Line Trends
Through this past Tuesday night, 50.14 percent of the all the games played have gone ‘over’ the total, which simply means that the oddsmakers have done an excellent job setting the total line.
The actual record is 359-357-29, virtually eliminating any edge betting either way.
Even in games that have gone to extra innings the difference is negligible with just 52.7 percent of the games going over the total.
Individual Team Trends
The Texas Rangers lead the majors in both hitting, with a team batting average of .287, and scoring, with an average of 5.66 runs per game. This is no real surprise considering that they finished last season ranked third overall in both categories and their lineup has remained basically intact.
Since everyone knows (including the oddsmakers) that Texas is going to put a ton of runs on the board over the course of the season, there has been no real advantage to wagering on this team on the total line so far this year. The total has gone 23-24-3 in the Rangers first 50 games. It has gone 10-13-2 at home and 13-11-1 on the road.
The second-best hitting team in the majors has been the St. Louis Cardinals with a .282 team batting average and an average of 5.26 runs per game. This has come as a major surprise considering that last season with Albert Pujols still with the team and Lance Berkman healthy, the Cardinals were ranked fifth in hitting with a team batting average of .273 and 4.7 runs per game.
The Pujols effect created an incredible opportunity to play the total line in St. Louis’s first 50 games, with 29 of them going over the total, which equates to 58 percent of the time. The advantage has been one-sided with the total going over in 18 of 24 home games (75 percent) and staying ‘under’ in 14 of its 26 games on the road. This whole situation bears watching as the oddsmakers will continue to adjust their lines based on these early results. However, so far it has not helped. The total has gone over in 11 of the Cardinals last 14 home games.
The Boston Red Sox are struggling just to get to .500 on the year behind some atrocious pitching, but they continue to pound the hide off the ball as the third-best hitting team in MLB. They have a team batting average of .273 and are scoring an average of 5.3 runs per game.
The total has gone over in 29 of Boston’s first 49 games, or 59 percent of the time. These numbers have held true both at home, with 60 percent of the games going over, and on the road, with 58.3 percent going over.
The Red Sox have always been a solid hitting team and finished last season ranked first in the majors in scoring with an average of 5.4 runs per game. Despite having a team ERA of 4.57 this season, the oddsmakers’ adjustments on the total line have obviously not been high enough, making the Red Sox another value team when it comes to betting the over on their games.
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