Our MLB handicapper takes a look at 1st-half team betting trends and picks a few teams worth following and fading, as the 2nd half kicks off after the All-Star Break.
Now that more of a half of a season is in the books and the All-Star break is here, it is a good time to reflect on team betting statistics to see if we can find value and trends to take advantage of for the second half. There are definitely a few teams that have been very profitable in the first half if you knew what to look for. Will the trends continue to be profitable, or come crashing to earth?
Money Line Champions
Taking the lead in money line action so far this season is the Texas Rangers, otherwise known as the “Luckiest Team in Baseball”. I say this because at 54-36 they are 1st in the AL West and 5.5 games up on the 2nd place Houston Astros, yet their +16 run differential is 3rd in the division. To put it this way, they've allowed more runs than the 31-58 Atlanta Braves. Online Sportsbooks haven't fallen for it and overvalued them either, which has led to the Rangers being an incredible +24.22 units on the season. They've shown signs of regressing to earth lately, though, going 3-7 SU coming into the All-Star break. I'd continue to fade the Rangers in this spot, especially on the road and when the heat eventually turns Arlington into a launching pad. The Rangers currently rank 27th in pitching in the MLB.
In 2nd place for money line winnings so far is the San Francisco Giants with a +17.75 unit performance. The Giants surged into the All-Star break on an 8-2 clip and carry a +73 run differential, which leads the NL West. Carrying the best record in baseball at 57-33, the Giants rank 9th in pitching and 3rd in total offense. This team is legit, complete, and should continue to make waves in a National League embedded with weak and rebuilding teams. The Giants should be a safe MLB pick going forward and a balanced home/away record (29-17/28-16) tells the truth about a team that is safe to back with your hard earned cash.
Money Line Losers
The Tampa Bay Rays find themselves 20 games below .500 at the break, limping into the All-Star game while going 1-9 SU in their last ten games. Their run differential of -74 ranks 27th in the MLB, while their -25.77 unit performance SU ranks dead last. The Rays don't pitch well, bat well, or play defense well. With three teams over 10 games over .500 in the AL East, we can expect that they will be running into improving teams going forward with the unbalanced division schedule. Bottom line; this team has no hope and will be sellers at the deadline and are worthy of fading until the end of the season.
A surprising money line loser on the season is the 53-35 Chicago Cubs, who come into the break at -8.26 units SU. One only needs to look at a recent Jake Arrieta loss where the Cubs' MLB odds were favored at -300 to figure this out. The books know that the public is all over the Cubs after their hot start and are taking advantage by using some basic math. Basically the value of backing the Cubs this season is gone.
Two teams with awful records are great for backing with the Over because of their poor pitching in the Cincinnati Reds (32-57) and Minnesota Twins (32-56). Cincinnati finds itself favoring the Over at 50-32 half way through the season and the Twins are at 54-29. Just goes to show that even a poor offense can cash the Over if the pitching and defense are bad enough.
A good pitching staff can make the Under a good bet even if the offense is highly ranked as well, a fact that is easiest to illustrate with the Toronto Blue Jays. Although the Blue Jays are ranked 5th in the MLB in total offense, their 6th ranked pitching staff has resulted in the best Under record at 52-35 on the season. I would think that this record will eventually regress to the norm as books adjust, so picking the Over with the Jays may prove fruitful in the 2nd half.
MLB 2016 Record: 34-20-3, +13.32 Units