There are two big reasons I love betting on baseball. The first is the number of games - a full slate every single night leaves you with countless options. Second is the moneyline. It's the purest form of betting, and while it is available in most sports it is here where it truly shines. What happened in the moneyline one year doesn't always have much bearing on what happens the next year. Pittsburgh, for example, was the third-most-profitable team in 2015 and the fifth worst last year. It is worthwhile, though, to look at the best and the worst from last year and speculate about what we might expect from them this year from a betting perspective:
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Best moneyline teams
Texas: They were the most profitable squad last year after having won 95 games. It wasn't a great offseason, though, and I don't see them winning that many again. That will make it tough to make money like they did last year. If the bottom three-fifths of their rotation, which just seems lousy, can overachieve, though, that's where some profits could come from. They have been the most profitable team each of the last two seasons, so they have the trend working for them. I'm just not buying what they are selling this year.
Baltimore: I am not a believer in Baltimore at all this year. They will continue to hit a ton of home runs, but that won't win them games alone. Losing Matt Wieters really hurts, and their rotation is just plain lousy. The AL East has a really good Boston team and a pretty good Toronto one - plus whatever the Yankees are - so wins aren't easy to find. I think this team could easily shed eight or 10 wins, and that will kill their profit.
Detroit: The team won 86 games last year but sure didn't get the pulse racing while doing it. They are just a dull team, and I don't think they are particularly improved. Justin Verlander was great last year, but I don't trust that, either. I guess, though, that they could easily win 82-87 games. That was good enough for a fat profit last year, so maybe it will be again.
Cleveland: It was the Indians, so I don't think anyone truly believed that they were as good as they actually were right up to the end. That's why they delivered such nice value. This year they should be very good again, and it would be no surprise to see them win even more than the 94 games they took down last year. They aren't going to sneak up on anyone, though - everyone expects their success. That should depress the value and the profits quite significantly.
Worst moneyline teams
Minnesota: Last year this was a really awful team that deserved every one of the 103 losses they endured. Sadly for the fans of the team, not enough has changed this year. They still aren't going anywhere in any hurry and still aren't going to be any good. Bad teams can deliver profits if they aren't quite as bad as people think - the Braves were nicely profitable last year, for example. That's not the case here, though.
Tampa Bay: The hope is that Chris Archer turns into a true ace and the rest of the rotation does well, and they lift this team. They won only 68 last year, though, and haven't done enough to improve. The division above them is too strong for them to steal a lot of games, so it's tough to be very optimistic.
Arizona: They landed down at the bottom of the pile when, coming into the season, many expected them to be near the top of it. They disappointed in so many ways - with the rotation being at the top of the list. I don't think that they are good enough to contend, but they should be solidly better, and that will make them much less ugly to bet on.
Oakland: I am cautiously optimistic that Sonny Gray will have a big year. And that is literally the only positive thing I can say about this team. What a disgrace they are right now. They lost 93 last year, and I would be shocked if they didn't top that this year. They are as close to a lock to be back here again as you can be - like the Twins. It's hard to believe that it wasn't too, too long ago that this was a model franchise.
Pittsburgh: The Pirates seemed like they were on the verge of big things, and then it just kind of went away with a whimper. Last year's 78-win season was a massive disappointment, and bettors obviously took a long time to adjust to the reality of what they were last year. They aren't going to be good this year but should be just a little better. Combine that with less public expectation and you should have a team that is better to bet on - not good, but better.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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