MLB Handicapping: Best Baseball Trends for Profits
by Darin Zank - 4/16/2014
We're trying to use this space on a weekly basis to keep baseball bettors in the know when it comes to some MLB betting trends. This goes not just for what happens on the field, but also how the betting public is playing the games and moving the lines, how they're doing, and what angles are making money.
We realize we're only a couple of weeks into this season, and some of the numbers that follow are products of small samples, but we share them because we still think they can be of some use in making money betting baseball.
Last week found the first bunch of games of this season lined with favorites of -200 or more. And as one might expect, those favorites won most of those games. But did they produce a profit?
Last Tuesday Washington and Gio Gonzalez went off at -200 over Miami, and Toronto and Mark Buehrle went off at -205 over Houston; both won.
Wednesday the Nats and Jordan Zimmerman, off at -200 over the Marlins, won 10-7; and the Jays and Brandon Morrow, off at -205, beat the Astros 7-3.
Thursday Washington and Stephen Strasburg, as -220 chalk, beat Miami 7-1; but the big underdogs got on the board when Houston and Dallas Keuchel, getting +195, knocked off Toronto and RA Dickey 6-4.
Friday Texas and Yu Darvish, off at -220, defeated the Astros 1-0; Saturday St. Louis and Adam Wainwright, off at -230, beat the Cubs 10-4; and Sunday the Cardinals and Michael Wacha, off at a heavy -245, defeated Chicago 6-4.
So on the season favorites of -200 or more are 8-1, creating a profit of $595, based on those hypothetical $100 wagers.
Possible big favorites later this week include Detroit and Justin Verlander at home against Cleveland Thursday; the Dodgers and Zack Greinke at home against Arizona Friday; Cincy and Tony Cingrani at the Cubs and Oakland with Scott Kazmir at home against Houston Saturday; and the A's, Reds and Dodgers again Sunday.
Home Dog Reversal
Home dogs produced a small profit through the first week of this MLB betting season but took a dive last week, going 9-20, losing $940. Some of that dollar figure can be attributed to the short lines of many recent home dogs. Even when a home dog hits, they've only been paying out at prices like +110 and +120. In the early going it looks like there's a good deal of parity around the league, and books seem to be lining games fairly tightly.
Against the Wind
Many seasoned bettors, regardless of the sport, believe there's value in going against the grain. When Joe Public bets a game hard in one direction, wise men begin to think about betting the other way. And so far this baseball season that idea is paying off.
We've tracked 21 games so far this season on which the opening betting line has moved at least 15 cents, one way or the other. For example, last Saturday Texas and Tanner Scheppers opened at -155 over Houston and Jarred Cosart, but action on the Rangers pushed that line to -170 by first pitch. Now, should a bettor go with the steam and Texas? Or go contrarian, and bet the Astros?
In this particular case, going against the steam was the play, as Houston won 6-5 in extra innings.
So far this season, in games that have seen line moves of at least 15 cents, betting against the moves has resulted in 12 wins, nine losses and a profit of $465.
Our continuously updated list of the best and worst bullpens proved profitable again last week.
Four games matched two teams on our "worst" bullpen list last week; all four of those games played "over" on the totals.
Ten games matched two teams on our "best" bullpen list last week: six of those games played "under" on the totals.
And 15 games matched a team from our "best" list against a team on our "worst" list; the "best" teams won 10 of those games, to the tune of $370 in profits.
Our updated "best" bullpens list includes a couple of teams with question marks. Kansas City has been on this list since the middle of last season, but the Royals traded lefty Will Smith over the offseason, and now both Luke Hochevar and Tim Collins are on the DL. At the moment the KC pen owns an ERA of 4.76, so we're keeping an eye on this situation.
Also, Atlanta has been on this list for a while, too, but now comes word closer Craig Kimbrel has a sore shoulder. We might want to keep an eye on his situation, too.
Others on our "best" list include the Brewers, Pirates, Giants, Nationals, Red Sox, Rays, Mariners and A's.
On the other end of the spectrum, our "worst" bullpen list is comprised of the White Sox, Phillies, Twins, Astros, Angels, Cubs, Tigers, Rangers and Mets.
Starting Friday, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh begin a three-game weekend series at PNC Park; the Angels are in Detroit for three games; the Braves are in New York for three games with the Mets; the White Sox visit Texas; Minnesota visits Kansas City; and Oakland hosts Houston.
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