“Baseball is too random. It’s impossible to predict what’s gonna happen. Each game is a tossup. Trying to handicap the MLB is pointless.”
– Some guy who is too lazy to learn MLB betting
Ever heard people talk like that? These common statements about betting the MLB range in truth from flat out lies to horribly ignorant.
Struggling baseball teams can amass better win rates than their football or basketball counterparts – that is for sure. Any given Sunday should be rewritten as “any given anyday”.
So much of the game lies on the shoulders of the starting pitcher – meaning good teams are more prone to off nights relative to other sports. It’s much more likely for one pitcher to fail in baseball than an entire defensive unit faltering in football.
Baseball is different. It’s every day. It’s unrelenting. There is much variance. Get on baseball’s good side and you unlock the power of compound interest across the widest bet sheet in sports. Keep your mind closed off to MLB betting and you will be at the mercy of the beast rather than its master.
Why Bet MLB Underdogs?
Baseball is a little more random than other sports – true. You’re hitting a round ball with a round bat. There’s a lot of variance in that – can’t deny it.
I like betting underdogs for this exact reason. Most of the systems I have developed over the years find profitable underdog situations. It’s really the way to go in baseball betting. No need to hit 70% of your picks – 40% will do just fine.
Betting all dogs blindly is not a profitable play … ever! The Vegas hotshots are so darn good at what they do. We really must tip our caps, swallow our pride, and admit that Vegas is going to handicap more games correctly every single day than we could ever hope for on our best days.
Even those Vegas geniuses can’t protect against every single trend, though – meaning there will always be profitable angles for persistent MLB bettors … and I do mean persistent. The amount of area Vegas must cover when rolling out 7 full MLB betting sheets every week is insane. There are bound to be breeches in the perimeter.
2022 MLB underdogs aren’t setting the world on fire – winning 37.2% of their games straight up (SU) and losing over $3,100. Compare this to 2021 in which April dogs won 44.6% and $1,200.
Betting favorites blindly would be a good strategy this particular year had you begun right from the first pitch of the 2022 season. With a 61.9% win rate, favorites are up about $1,800 on the year.
There have already been 349 games on which you’d have placed over $50,000 in wagers. The ROI here is 3.6%. Very solid – especially considering any sort of blind system like this is easy to follow with little to no research.
My Favorite MLB Underdogs Betting Trend
Even though 2022 has been a year for favored teams, underdog success can be unearthed with a little discretion and some trend-digging.
One ridiculously simple system I’ve incorporated into my baseball betting for years is the “jet ski rental” of MLB systems. Take road dogs off a loss who are between (+100) and (+150). It’s that simple. And it works!
This system is awesome in April but loses its efficacy come May and June. Take a look at the yearly April win rates for this simple yet effective betting system. These numbers are courtesy of Killersports MLB Query page.
|31-38 (-0.35, 44.9%)||123.7||34.7||season = 2022|
|33-32 (-0.65, 50.8%)||122.9||855.7||season = 2021|
|24-46 (-1.20, 34.3%)||124.6||-1609.6||season = 2019|
|25-34 (-0.53, 42.4%)||125.2||-270||season = 2018|
|38-48 (-0.34, 44.2%)||122.5||-145||season = 2017|
|32-46 (-0.05, 41.0%)||123.9||-635.2||season = 2016|
|47-33 (0.71, 58.8%)||120.5||2363.5||season = 2015|
|60-46 (0.47, 56.6%)||121.2||2672||season = 2014|
|49-60 (-0.33, 45.0%)||123.5||51.5||season = 2013|
|27-42 (-0.90, 39.1%)||121.9||-908.7||season = 2012|
2019 was a clunker of a year, but this system has still profited thousands over the past decade’s worth of April ball.
Underdogs won barely enough games in 2022 to profit from following this system blindly, but who says we need to bet it blindly?
It’s very common for handicappers to have a blacklist of teams who routinely let them down and get banned from consideration for bets. How do these numbers stack up when we apply our baseball wisdom to narrow down the list of candidates?
My Personal Experience in 2022 Betting This System
Personally, I made this system work for a profit of right around 1 unit in April of 2022. Not very good, but I’ll take it for its simplicity.
I was actually up about 4-5 units heading into the final week of April before the “Great Favoritism” hit and swallowed up the hard-earned profits (I’ll explain why I call it this later, keep reading please 🙂
I was able to gain a slight edge over the blind bettors of this system by exercising a bit of discretion. I learned very early on that the Cincinnati Reds were horribly overpriced so I started fading them, despite the team hitting the criteria for this system several times (they were longer than (+150) often, though).
I was probably a little late to adopt this next one but I recently made a vow to also ban the Cleveland Guardians from my underdog bets – fed up by their 4-10 record as underdogs in 2022 with 4.5 units in losses.
Removing these teams from consideration while simultaneously hand-picking spots I wanted to avoid – I was able to grind out a meager profit betting dogs in an April that was horrible for underdog bettors. This stuff I’m preaching really works!
Why Only April? Can’t We Bet This System in May?
Unfortunately, this is not a system that should be carried into May. In fact, we may want to consider betting against this trend in May and June.
Here is a look at how this same “jet ski rental” system has fared when May flowers are blooming:
By the way, if you don’t get why it’s called the jet ski rental system, you obviously didn’t click on the article I linked above 😉
|1-2 (-2.00, 33.3%)||132.3||-67.7||season = 2022|
|39-49 (-0.70, 44.3%)||122.9||-106.9||season = 2021|
|39-49 (0.19, 44.3%)||123.2||-95.2||season = 2019|
|41-40 (0.00, 50.6%)||124||1084||season = 2018|
|47-55 (-0.36, 46.1%)||122.2||243.4||season = 2017|
|47-46 (0.30, 50.5%)||121.1||1091.7||season = 2016|
|61-69 (-0.18, 46.9%)||122.9||596.9||season = 2015|
|60-62 (-0.33, 49.2%)||122.1||1126||season = 2014|
|48-60 (-0.17, 44.4%)||122.2||-134.4||season = 2013|
|51-66 (-0.57, 43.6%)||124.7||-240.3||season = 2012|
|47-66 (-0.68, 41.6%)||124.6||-743.8||season = 2011|
|35-66 (-1.07, 34.7%)||124.4||-2246||season = 2010|
|52-88 (-0.51, 37.1%)||121.9||-2461.2||season = 2009|
|49-83 (-0.36, 37.1%)||125.1||-2170.1||season = 2008|
|48-65 (-0.64, 42.5%)||125.9||-456.8||season = 2007|
|46-72 (-1.02, 39.0%)||125.6||-1422.4||season = 2006|
I extended the data all the way back to the 2006 season for this May trend because I wanted to illustrate the incredible swings this system takes (and thus the intestinal fortitude required to stand by it – or against it).
Remember, this is the same system that is money in April where you bet road dogs off a loss who are given between (+100) and (+150) odds.
This system has lost each of the past 3 years but was absolutely eating during the mid-2010s. From 2008-13, however, this system lost bettors a grand total of $7,995 … and 80 cents.
So, do we tail this system in May? That would’ve fattened your wallet in 2015 but would have nearly bankrupted you in 2009. It appears this trend operates in cycles.
Vegas is notoriously slow at adjusting to trends. It is not wise for their business to make emotional, sharp changes in lines after several outcomes in a certain direction. Even in years when a certain subgroup like home teams, underdogs, Western teams, etc. is absolutely killing the books they are usually pretty slow to adjust – gradually shifting the odds back to equilibrium. Never overreacting.
While I don’t like the inconsistency of this system overall, I do like how the good and bad years stick to their respective “clumps”. There is consistency in the inconsistency.
Right now we are in the 3rd year of a negative “clump” – meaning we should probably oppose this system. I say probably because I’ll not be partaking in this system this May – either with or against.
Here’s why I, personally, will be avoiding these games: it has to do with the underdogs losing so much right now. Remember how we just discovered that favorites have been killing it on the moneyline in 2022? Books are just now starting to appropriately respond and shift the odds accordingly.
I don’t want to be betting against underdogs all May long when it seems very clear that Vegas is beginning to shift the odds in their favor. Conversely, I don’t want to bet with this particular subgroup of “jet ski rental” underdogs this May because the numbers say not to do that.
In general, when I find a contradiction like this – it means no real edge exists and that I should just look for a better spot. This isn’t a “general betting advice” article but it’s always an appropriate time to dish out the help:
Don’t bet too many games. Stick to those in which you have an edge. If it’s not a great spot, don’t force it. Pick your spots wisely. You are playing right into Vegas’ hands with blind shots fired into the wind.
Come June, this system should be transcribed onto paper, crumpled up, burned, and then sprinkled out the window as you drive down the freeway.
Since June is quite a ways away and sports bettors are more of the “what have you done for me lately” type of crowd, I’ll forgo the June talk and instead leave this space where I can link to a future article that I’ll inevitably write during the waning days of May. Just know for now that you can cancel your plans of riding this horse to Profitville in June.
Which Teams Make the Best MLB Underdog Bets? A Team-by-Team Breakdown
Some bettors are purely feelings and logic based – using their bevy of sports-watching experience to deduce the best teams to bet. Others rely solely on the numbers – not even needing to be knowledgeable about the sports they bet, just able to read a spreadsheet.
Like most things in life, balance is key in sports betting, too. Those who use their mathematical prowess to detect inefficiencies in the market and then use their knowledge of the sport to further analyze spots typically have the most success.
The Danger of Being a One-Dimensional Capper
Part of knowing your sport is deciding which teams to blacklist even when the numbers are screaming that they are a good bet.
I came across a capper on social media recently who went through a tough streak of losing while backing some horrible teams – the Reds were one of them, I know.
This fellow claims to be a “contrarian thinker” so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that these awful teams hit his radar as undervalued bets.
After losing a few units on the Reds, however, it was obvious that his “contrarian” views were not working. One of his followers tried to cheer him up with this condolence: hey man, you’re just too sharp for your own good.
I get he’s trying to be nice and comforting, but what lunacy! Too sharp? No such thing!
You see, the best have the ability to ignore the screaming numbers when their baseball sense is screaming even louder that this bet is a bad idea. Not tooting my own horn here (at least too much), but I got off Cincinnati long ago and have since hit about 7 run lines betting against them (losing 1).
The Best Teams to Bet as 2022 MLB Underdogs
Here are the teams in 2022 who are excelling as underdogs and those who are dropping the ball:
Colorado is leading the charge – winning 4.6 units as underdogs in 2022. This effort is followed by Oakland (up 2.7 units), Arizona (1.8 units), and Chicago (1.7 units).
This whole Rockies being profitable thing shouldn’t be a surprise if you’re keeping up with scores and lines. Colorado is square in the middle of a fast-paced 4-team NL West division race.
Some would say they are out of their league trying to mess with the big boys (SF and LA), but Colorado is really doing it right now – they’re really doing it!
I’ve bet Oakland myself a few times this year, usually on the road, though. Most likely a cause of their pitiful home attendance in the Colosseum – the A’s are the most profitable road underdog in the MLB (+5.1u) but losing 1.8 units as home dogs. Ain’t no home-field advantage in lifeless Oakland. That is a basketball town.
The Worst Teams to Bet as 2022 MLB Underdogs
Stay away from these 4 underdogs in 2022:
I feel very good about having blacklisted 2 of the 4 worst underdog teams of 2022. Those poor poor Reds are down 10.1 units on the year.
The White Sox are 0-5 as dogs. It’s funny – they are rarely given underdog status but always fail when it happens. Sometimes Vegas knows how to pick their spots, too.
Imagine how many units you’d have saved yourself if you bothered looking at which teams were burning holes in your pockets a week ago. How about 10 days ago? 15 days?
The MLB season provides so many opportunities. You must be willing and able to remain in a constant state of self analysis – stopping the bleeding early with dead-end teams and trends and capitalizing on the good ones.
What Have You Done for Me Lately? Breaking Down Recent Team-by-Team Performance
I call April 24, 2022 the beginning of the “Great Favoritism”. MLB underdog numbers took a sharp decline following action on the 23rd and have really yet to recover – fueling a large chunk of the favored team’s $1,800 in profits this year.
Blindly betting underdogs from the start of the season until April 23rd would have netted a loss of 13.5 units – not good at all (ROI of -4.95%).
Following April 23rd, those already bad numbers grew even uglier for underdog bettors. Beginning with the games on the 24th of April, underdogs have lost 19.2 units – an atrocious ROI of -12.97%. That’ll take you out of the game real quick.
As we just learned, no one should be betting systems blindly. Within a successful system are subsets of games which should be avoided – those played by a certain team, for example. Let’s take a look at the best (and worst) teams to bet as dogs since the Great Favoritism began.
BEST UNDERDOG: DBacks +2.6u
WORST UNDERDOGS: Reds -3.7u / Guardians -3.5u / Tigers -3.1u
The Reds and Guardians will both show up near the top if you sort your data by largest moneyline deficit as an underdog, but the Tigers are a sneaky team we should be fading right now.
Many thought Detroit would turn the corner in 2022, but they haven’t. Let’s just leave it at that.
Sorting for year-to-date data on how Detroit is as an underdog bet is misleading. The Tigers inflated this number with several moneyline wins early in the season. Their true colors have since come out. The Tigers are 1-5 SU since the Great Favoritism – making them the 3rd-losingest underdog in that span.
This is why it’s important to compartmentalize your trends and keep up with what is current. Looking at year-to-date stats in August is far less useful than searching for stats from the past 14 or 28 days.
Teams make grand turnarounds (or spiral uncontrollably) all the time in sports. The overall record or bottom line isn’t always the most important stat. How they got there can tell way more about the team and how much faith we should place in them.
Think this is interesting and useful? Here is the link for Part 2 of my deep dive into underdogs in a favorite-friendly 2022 MLB betting landscape.
See you on top, boppers!