Oddsmakers offer few MLB teams to go over/under 90 wins. These World Series favorites are often overvalued in the betting market throughout the course of the season. Here’s a strategy to consider for the 2017 season.
A powerful betting angle in professional sports is playing situational bets based off season-long projections. Major League Baseball offers perhaps the best market for this investment strategy. Projections are often more accurate and consistent in MLB due to the sheer number of games, data, and stats to analyze. Need proof? Tally up how many teams close within six or seven games of their season win totals as offered by oddsmakers prior to the year. You'll find it's more than half in any given year; remarkable given a 162-game season.
Using season win totals odds, one spot play I've invested in in the past involves fading projected 90-game winners as road under dogs when they own a better record than their opponent. This scenario signals a red flag for a host of reasons, but most often it's due to the home team rolling out a superior starting pitcher. Over the last five seasons, the 17 teams offered up by sportsbooks to win 90 games or more are 73-131 SU in this spot collectively. Home favorites toss the first pitch at -125.6 odds on average, returning 15.5 percent on the money line and 14.0 percent on the run line to backers.
The situational play has returned a profit in each of the last five seasons; only the 2012 Angels, 2012 Phillies, and 2012 Tigers bucked the trend. Last year, the 103-win Cubs, the lone team offered in futures betting to surpass 90 victories (93.5), went 3-10 SU in the scenario; in 2015, the Nationals (94) and Dodgers (92.5) combined to go 2-14 overall. Sports books dangle six teams with win totals succeeding 90 for 2017: the Cubs (95.5), Dodgers (94.5), Indians (93.5), Red Sox (92.5), Astros (91.5), and Nationals (91.5).
This approach will offer many betting opportunities this season, and it should see strong returns. The gap between top and bottom clubs have been shrinking for years due to rule changes on and off the field, the growth of analytics, the spreading of talent, and more. Winning 90 games requires a good bit of luck, and picking out spots to fade elite MLB teams like mentioned above is a good way to uncover maximum value.