Revenge is a common handicapping principle used in basketball and football, yet you seldom hear about it in baseball. There’s actually good reason for that in that it doesn’t exist nearly as much as it does in the other sports. Baseball is a long season with games nearly every day and players know there are going to be some good days and bad days. It doesn’t matter how good of a team you are, you’re going to get thumped now and then over the course of the season. Poor teams will have days when they’re swinging the bats well and the opposing pitcher just doesn’t have it.
If you were to look for certain spots where a team might get up for a game it’s after being blown out in front of the home fans, but that hasn’t been the case over the years. Road teams who won the previous game between two teams by at least eight runs and are on the road in today’s game are 514-484, but they are slight underdogs at an average price of more than +106. That turns that record into an extremely profitable +$6,500 dating back to 2004. So far this season, these teams are 14-8 for a profit of $675. Last year there were only 29 occurrences, so it’s looking like that will be surpassed this season fairly quickly.
In the long term, both favorites and underdogs were profitable, although the road favorites fared better with a 244-140 record for a profit of $5,460, while underdogs were 249-321 for a profit of $1,491 and an average take price of +138.
If the away team won the previous game before the blowout victory, they have posted a 175-151record for a profit of $2,650 and an ROI of 6.9%, which is better than the 5.7% ROI gained by taking the team that just thumped its opponent.
On the other side of the equation, home teams who won their previous game against today’s opponent by eight or more runs have also been profitable over the years, posting a 425-303 record and a profit of just over $3,100 with an ROI of 3%. As home favorites these teams are 332-202, while sporting an 81-91 record as home underdogs, which led to a 4.4% ROI.
So while revenge plays an important role in football and basketball, that doesn’t appear to be the case in baseball, where having some positive momentum has proven to be a more important factor.