If there is one thing that handicappers know all too well it's what happened last year is far from guaranteed to happen again this year. If we could be sure that history would repeat itself we would all but rich. Things change, though - either the way teams play or the way the public perceives them or both. There were eight teams last year that offered a fairly healthy return on moneyline betting in baseball last year (The Angels and Diamondbacks were also both profitable, but only by a narrow margin). Let's take a look at those eight teams and their chances of being strong betting teams again this year:
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Texas Rangers: Two things worked together to make them such a strong bet last year - no one expected anything of them, and they somehow held on all year to win their division. The good news this year is that despite the success last year I don't think anyone expects too much of them this time out. The problem is that their chances of replicating last year's success seems low. Houston should take a step forward from last season. The Mariners are improved. The Angels won't be terrible. It all adds up for Texas to take a step back, and that should mean that they won't be the strong bet that they were last season. Given their lack of public love, though, there is at least a chance that they can remain somewhat profitable.
St. Louis Cardinals: Everyone respects the Cards, but they are still good enough to exceed expectations enough to create a nice profit. To turn that profit last year they had to win 100 games. While they should be good again this year, I find it tough to imagine them matching that win total. If they win 10 fewer games it will be tough for a public team like this to turn a big profit.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates won 98 games last year. I don't see them winning that many this year - their season win total sits at just 86.5 at BetOnline, and the "under" is a strong favorite. If they don't win nearly as many games they just aren't going to produce nearly as much profit. They are one of those teams that won't be quite good enough to produce profits by betting on them, but they will be too good for you to fade them at any point.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins won 83 games last year, which had to be considered on the top range of expectations for them last year. It's no surprise, then, that they produced nice profits. This year they should be several losses worse than last year - partly because they didn't improve much this offseason and partly because the Indians and White Sox should both be better in their division. I don't see them as a profitable team this year.
Kansas City Royals: This team won 95 games last year to create a profit. While they are going to be good again, it will be tough for them to throw off their World Series hangover and match that win total this year. They also have the stigma of being World Champions, which will inflate public expectations and decrease betting value. The Royals would have to have a truly great year to replicate this level of betting success. I don't see it.
Chicago Cubs: It's going to be very tough for this team to be profitable. Expectations are very high - the win total is at 93.5 and the "over" is still a strong favorite. They are a very public team that a lot of people think will be the best team in the National League - at least. They are going to be bet very heavily out of the gate. If they get off to a strong start then the prices will only get more ridiculous and the odds will be awful. If they struggle early then the big prices could mean big losses that could be tough to climb back from. Either way, I would bet against a fat profit from this team unless they are even better than most people think they will be.
Toronto Blue Jays: There is a very good chance that the Blue Jays will be more profitable this year than they were last year. There are two factors for that. First, after losing David Price and not making big moves in the offseason, expectations are relatively low despite the success they had last year. Those expectations are lower than they should be - the bats are still strong, Troy Tulowitzki should be more comfortable and productive with a full year this year, and the rotation has a chance to be quietly strong. Second, the team should be more consistent this year. They were underwhelming early and then exploded after aggressively bulking up the roster. People learned not to expect much from them early, and that deflated prices. Then they could barely lose, and bettors won all the time at nice prices. This year they shouldn't start as slow, so the profits should be more spread out. I am very bullish on this team from a betting perspective.
New York Mets: The Mets were not dramatically profitable last year, and that was when they were upstarts looking to prove that they weren't just the usual Mets and that they could actually contend. Now they are favored to win their division, and they are seen as top-level contenders in the National League. A fairly public team; a rotation that is flashy and which the public thinks is deep and unstoppable. High expectations that will lead to high prices. A divisional rival that won't lie down and let the Mets run away with the division. Add it all up and you have a team that will struggle to create big profits.
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