Many Top MLB Teams Losing Money
We've past the quarter pole of the MLB season and the boys of summer have produced some surprises thus far. A review of the sports books preseason and current odds to win the World Series shows the adjustments made to some of the early season surprises along with the expected teams and contenders that have been a disappointment so far.
Wagering on MLB futures offers little value on the favorites, and the risk is greater when you factor in potential injuries. Last year's division winners were all among the favorites to contend and win their divisions again this year. That included the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.
I played one future during the season last year taking the Cleveland Indians to win the American League pennant in early June. The Indians then went on a 14-game winning streak starting June 17 and were well on their way to winning the AL Central. But in September the Indians lost two key starting pitchers to injury. My wager did not look as promising, but Cleveland still swept Boston and then beat the Blue Jays in 5 games to reach the World Series. I don't think they could have gotten through the tougher NL with their injuries, but the Indians did reward us before losing in 7 games to the Cubs in the World Series.
So how do teams at the quarter pole do as the season progresses? Can they sustain their early season success? What about the teams just behind them in the standings and the expected early season favorites and contenders?
As we near Memorial Day and approach June, here are the division leaders just past the quarter pole of the 2017 Major League Baseball season.
American League National League
New York Yankees (26-16) East Washington Nationals (26-17)
Minnesota Twins (23-18) Central Milwaukee Brewers (25-19)
Houston Astros (30-15) West Colorado Rockies (29-17)
The Yankees, Twins, Brewers and Rockies have been pleasant surprises, as those teams were in the range of 25-1, 100-1, 100-1 and 60-1 to win the World Series at the start of the season at many leading sports books.
Current odds on those teams to win the World Series at leading offshore shop BookMaker shows the Yankees at 12-1, Twins 65-1, Brewers 65-1 and Rockies 20-1.
The preseason favorites and top contenders in the American and National League were:
AL Favorites: Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros
AL Contenders: Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners
NL Favorites: Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals
NL Contenders: NY Mets, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals
The Blue Jays, Mariners and Giants are all at or near the bottom of their divisions a quarter into the season.
Current standings show the following teams in 2nd place in their divisions:
Baltimore Orioles (25-18) East Atlanta Braves (19-23)
Cleveland Indians (23-20) Central St. Louis Cardinals (22-19)
Texas Rangers (24-21) West Arizona Diamondbacks (27-19)
Over the last 11 MLB seasons, 23 out of 66 division leaders at the quarter pole have gone on win their division. So less than 35% of all division leaders a quarter into the season go on to win their division, and never have more than half the division leaders gone on to win their divisions (research provided by sports analyst 'Mr. East'). So history suggests that just 2 or 3 of the current division leaders will win their divisions. Of course the expanded wild card entries increases their chances to make the playoffs, and provides more excitement, media coverage and playoff scenarios into late September.
So what about last year's division winners? How many teams that won their division the prior season come back the following year and win it again? The last 11 seasons show that 24 out of 66 made it a 2nd straight division championship.
So if last year's division winners are not repeating as division champs, who is winning the division? The 2nd place teams at the quarter pole who did not win the division last year provide the best chance.
Baltimore, St. Louis and Arizona may be value plays if you're seeking a longer shot to make a move, but you still must evaluate their chances at the All-Star break and look at injuries and potential call-ups who may help (recently called up pitcher Jose Berrios of the Twins for example). Anticipating which contenders will make the added moves at the trade deadline may also help you when considering a future book wager to win the division, pennant or World Series, or just project if a team will stay in the race to the playoffs.
While savvy baseball bettors focus on the day-to-day grind and match-ups on the MLB schedule, it's worth noting too that many of the projected preseason contenders have been big money burners for their betting backers. That includes: Mets (-11 units), Cubs (-9), Giants (-6), Blue Jays (-9), Indians (-8), Mariners (-6). The Dodgers and Red Sox have also lost money overall this season, so we see many of the preseason favorites and contenders overvalued and/or underperforming in the early season and losing money for their betting backers. Of course the sports books have been the biggest benefactors in the early season betting on the favorites and projected top teams.
The top profit-producing teams through May 22:
Rockies (+15 units), Brewers (+11), Astros (+11), Yankees (+8), Diamondbacks (+8), Orioles (+6) and Twins (+6).
The long baseball season provides many swings, streaks and surprises, but it also shows that searching for value and digging deeper into underlying stats is key to betting daily baseball. As for futures and what lies ahead? Time will tell, but perception versus reality is playing out and many of the favorites and contenders have some ground to make up and will need to make their move this summer and down the stretch with a strong closing kick.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay