MLB BASEBALL BETTING: LEARN TO LOVE BIG MONEYLINE DOGS
In a previous article, we discussed at length the danger of big moneyline favorites in Major League Baseball betting. Whether you look at it theoretically using implied probability percentage or practically looking at the number of 7-Eleven employees in the Las Vegas area that once ‘specialized’ in big moneyline favorites it’s just a bad idea to play them in all but the rarest of circumstances.
Now, we’re going to look at the flip side of the same equation and talk about why you should learn to love big moneyline dogs in Major League Baseball. Once you reach a certain level in sports betting you reflexively look at the underdog first when you start analyzing a betting proposition. There’s a good reason for this—while value can be found up and down the pricing continuum and on both sides of the favorite/dog ‘Mendoza Line’ you’ll most commonly find it on the underdog. The higher profile the game, the more often this concept is generally true.
Major League Baseball is arguably the best sport for moneyline dogs due to the parity of the sport. Canadian sports betting experts know that the same dynamic exists in hockey but not to the extent we find it in baseball. This is caused not only by the relatively similar levels of talent and ability between the teams (there aren’t any Golden State Warriors type dominators in baseball) but by the long season. The reason for this is simple logic but one that stands the test of further analysis from a handicapping standpoint—the more games in a season schedule the less significance they have individually.
WHY BASEBALL IS DIFFERENT
Think about NFL football and it’s 18 game season—if a team starts 0-4 the fan base is calling for the head of the coaching staff and the team is already being dismissed as a playoff possibility. In Major League Baseball, a four game losing streak might elicit a minor level of concern and a four game winning streak is nice but nothing to get overly excited about.
This means that many of the concepts that we use in handicapping Pro and College Football simply won’t work in Major League Baseball. In football, handicappers love ‘lookahead’ and ‘letdown’ situations. In baseball, single games don’t produce this type of emotional/subjective reaction. It can happen in a series to series basis (and we’ll talk about that in detail in a future article) but if the Blue Jays beat the Yankees on Friday they won’t be in ‘letdown’ mode on Saturday.
The focus of regular season baseball isn’t so much on the individual games as it is on what I like to call ‘the process’. Baseball teams don’t take things a game at a time or even a series at a time—they focus on going about their task the ‘right way’. If they do the right things on a micro and macro level within ‘the process’ they’ll win 6 out of every 10 games and be a contender. If they don’t, they’ll lose 6 of every 10 and be a bottom feeder. Rarely, teams will get so ‘dialed in’ relative to the process that they’ll crank out 7 wins for every 10 games (eg: the 2016 Chicago Cubs). By the same token, they can also be so amazingly inept that they lose 7 of 10 games (eg: the 1962 New York Mets).
This input/output formula is very significant for the handicapper. It means that with few exceptions that the best teams lose 40% of their games throughout the season. It also means that the worst teams win 40% of their games throughout the season. Sometimes these percentages vary slightly but the concept is what’s important—these percentages make it easier to win money betting underdogs and more difficult to win money betting favorites.
It also means that there’s no real shame for an elite level team to lose a few games here and there to a doormat. If the New England Patriots played the Cleveland Browns twice in a season and lost both games it would be a huge story. If the Chicago Cubs drop a couple of games to the Arizona Diamondbacks it hardly registers because it’s just part of the game—and part of ‘the process’.
In the next article we’ll look at baseball betting underdogs from a mathematical standpoint to further explain why you should learn to love them as they help your bankroll grow.