Is a Shortened Season a Good or Bad for Baseball Bettors?

Is a Shortened Season a Good or Bad for Baseball Bettors?
Thairo Estrada #71 of the New York Yankees. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

Rumblings continue that a baseball season could get started on or before July 1st. Let’s take a look at the latest info and what that means looking ahead.

Highly respected baseball columnist Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY released an article on April 10th detailing discussions of baseball hierarchy trying to figure out the best and safest way to get the sport started.

Of course, the season will be shortened. As to the implications, we’ll get to that shortly as to what that means for making MLB picks.

For now, major league baseball is proposing having two leagues, one in Florida and another in Arizona. Because each spring training area has 15 teams, the logistics work out perfectly. The teams would play in their home training sites, plus have options to hold doubleheaders or even triple-headers at Miami, at Tampa Bay, and at Arizona, as each has a dome to work with. That is way better than this…

Here is what the Grapefruit League and Cactus League would look like by divisions, realigned based on the geography of their spring training homes. This is far from set in stone, but on the surface makes sense.

Grapefruit League

  • NORTH: New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • SOUTH: Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles.
  • EAST: Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins.

Cactus League

  • NORTHEAST: Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics.
  • WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels.
  • NORTHWEST: Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals.

Using this as format and reviewing the MLB odds at 5Dimes to win the World Series, here is the revised look at each division with assigned numbers.

Grapefruit League

  • NORTH: Yankees (1), Phillies (13), Blue Jays (22), Pirates (24), Tigers (29).
  • SOUTH: Twins, Braves (4), Twins (6), Rays (9), Red Sox (16), Orioles (30).
  • EAST: Astros (3), National (5), Mets (7), Cardinals (8), Marlins (28).

Cactus League

  • NORTHEAST: Cubs (10), Athletics (12), Diamondbacks (19), Rockies (23), San Francisco Giants (25).
  • WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers (2), Cleveland Indians (11), Angels (14), Reds (15), White Sox (17).
  • NORTHWEST: Brewers (18), Padres (20), Rangers (21), Mariners (26), Royals (27).
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The current thought is each team would have 12 division contests and six each against the other two divisions in the state, adding up to a 108-game season. The playoffs are still up for discussion, but games could be broadcast as early as 11:00 am in the East and 8:00 in West time zone, with fans, not an issue.

This would be a major boom for local networks and national outlets, as well as fans and baseball bettors to watch games, literally night and day.

(Photo by Mitchell Leff / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

Betting Observations of Realignment

The first thing that jumps off the page is eight of 10 teams that are expected World Series contenders are in the Panhandle State. That is imbalance like we have seen in the NBA with the Western and Eastern Conference most of the last decade. However, nobody needs to get excited, it’s one year and maybe it happens.

The Yankees would be in a ridiculous easy division, with three bad teams. If there was a wild card for the playoffs, Philadelphia would also have an edge, playing those same clubs.

The East Division would be a beast, with four of the eight best squads in one division! The South is not far behind at three in the Top 9 and having four of the 16-best.

In the Grand Canyon State, the Dodgers are the class, yet would be in the hardest division.

The Northwest is laughable, with Milwaukee the presumptive favorite, despite having a listing of No. 18, which would place them in last place in two of the Grapefruit Divisions.

For Cubs fans, potentially good news to be division champions, however, a dozen matchups with Oakland would be fun to watch.

Implications for Baseball Bettors

A shorter baseball season creates more parity. How many times have we gone into the Fourth of July with a surprise team or three leading a division at about the halfway point of the season? Frequently.

A 162-game season will expose weaknesses that teams can mask when playing two-thirds of a normal year. With no fans in the stands, besides talent, the only other edge for betting baseball is the last at-bat, which is important.

This could lead to more underdogs winning, especially those in the mid-price range of +140 to +175.

The start of the year could be chaos, with all players out of their normal element and routine and adjusting to no fans. More upsets than normal could be a thing. At the same time, because of reduced travel, particularly in Arizona, it could be like the NHL where winning and losing streaks of seven or more games might be common.

Bottom line (as guys like to say), let’s hope our continued efforts of social distancing work and we can get baseball started as soon as possible so everyone can enjoy. Being able to wager on baseball is good and like almost anything in life, we have to be able to make adjustments.