MLB Betting Trends: Handicapping the Best and Worst on Moneyline from Last Season
There are teams in baseball that are a pleasure to bet on all year because they consistently produce big profits. And there are those that are consistently a pleasure to bet against because they couldn't win an inter-squad scrimmage with any reliability. Both kinds are equally attractive to bettors. What we want to do here is look at the very best teams to bet on last year, and the best to bet against, to see what we might expect of them this year:
Oakland: There was no more pleasant surprise in the American League last year than the A's. They went from 75 wins in 2017, and two even lousier years before that, to 97 wins and a wild card spot last year. It was impressive and a lot of fun to watch. But outside of Khris Davis, this is not a star-studded group. They could match their output of last year, or they could finish fourth in the division, and neither result would be at all surprising. This is a tough team to judge this year, but I lean towards being at least a little pessimistic. I don't expect them to be nearly as kind to bettors this year.
Boston: The Red Sox are a very public team that came into the season with high expectations last year yet still managed to produce the second most betting profits in the league. That's only possible when a team like this wins big, and the Red Sox locked down 108 wins last year. I still like the team, and they are co-favorites to win it all, but it is really hard to defend a World Series title, and they haven't done a lot to change last year's team. I expect them to win the division again, but I expect fewer wins this time around, and that will probably hurt their profits.
Tampa Bay: This team very quietly won 90 games last year. If you asked the average casual fan what their record was, they would probably guess eight or 10 wins short. Anonymous success is a sure way for nice profits. This team has assembled a nice rotation - at least the top end of it. The roster isn't loaded with power, but it is solid enough. If everything goes their way, then they could match last year or maybe even a little better. If they do that, then they will very likely produce profits again.
Milwaukee: I am not the guy to ask about the Brewers. I never believed in them and waited all year for the floor to fall out. But it never did. Christian Yelich was a revelation of the MVP variety, the pitching was strong, and they held on all year. So, even though I don't buy into them again this year, you will want to take that with a grain of salt. I have good reasons for my thinking, though. Yelich took a massive step forward last year from his years in Miami, and I am not sure it is sustainable. The pitching is young and may not replicate last season. And the Cardinals and Cubs should both be stronger in the division this year than last. I am not optimistic - for what that's worth.
Baltimore: You take the worst-managed team in baseball and trade away the best player, and it's no wonder that they struggled badly. They got exactly what they deserved, and they did not have a good offseason at all. They are very short on talent - especially on the mound. Frankly, losing less than 100 games would count as a miracle. Betting against them isn't likely to be a bad idea again, and they are a lock to finish last in their division.
Washington: Last year was disappointing for the Nationals. Now they have lost their best player - to a rival, no less - while their division has only gotten deeper and tougher. They still have pitching and talent, so all will not be lost. And sometimes a team gets a boost when they lose a superstar because the distraction is gone, and they are playing with a chip on their shoulder. I don't expect this team to be great, but they should be less disappointing than last year, and so they aren't likely to produce a deficit like this again.
Cleveland: The Indians are very tough to judge right now. They won the AL Central almost by default last year - they were less frustrating than the rest of the teams in the group, though far from great. And they have made a ton of changes, shifting 13 players who were on the roaster at the end of last season out of town. They have talent still, and they managed the summer reasonably well. And the division is every bit the mess it was last year - or more. Cleveland is again expected to win the division by default, but it is tough to know how the new look will come together, or what to expect of them. We need to see them before we know what to expect.
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