If you’ve struggled a bit through the first half of the baseball season, you’re definitely not alone. A number of sharper players have struggled the past season-and-a-half and much of that has to do with the performance of favorites. Long considered to be a terrible bet, favorites have become a winning proposition since the start of the 2015 season, making life rough for those who tend to play the underdogs.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll define a favorite as any team that is favored by -110 or greater, while an underdog is any team that is even money or better. It’s hard to consider a team that requires you to lay -104 an underdog, although technically they would be if the favorite was -106.
Before we get to this year’s results, it’s worth taking a look at favorites over the years so you can get a better idea of just how much things have changed the past few seasons. Between 2005 and 2014, blindly wagering on every favorite to win one unit, meaning you risk $140 to win $100 if the team is favored -140, would have shown a loss in each of the 10 seasons. Over the 10 years, your net loss would have been $67,195, or just over $6,700 per season.
But in 2015, blindly betting the favorites would have produced a profit of $1,482 and as of the All-Star break this season, favorites are showing a profit of slightly more than $2,500. You can now see why those who bet on underdogs are struggling, as a $100 wager on every underdog of even money or better would have produced a $6,700 loss through the break.
Home favorites have been a losing proposition so far, but away favorites have shown a profit of $2,900 and a ROI of 5.6% and sport a 221-138 record.
Favorites of -150 or more have been profitable both at home and away, but much more so on the road. Home teams are 245-129 for a profit of $740 when favored -150 or greater, while road teams are 81-38, showing almost a $1,400 profit and a 6.5% ROI.
Favorites of -200 or more have been known as sucker bets for quite some time, but it’s hard to argue with their 95-37 record this season, which has yielded a profit of $820 and a 2.6% ROI. Road favorites of -200 or more have fared even better, going 18-5 for a $655 profit and a 12.2% ROI.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the value this season has been on road teams. A flat bet on home teams, regardless of the line, would have shown a loss of close to $6,100, while blindly betting away teams has yielded a modest $185 profit.
The oddsmaker has done a decent job on totals, which stand at 659-614-58, as blindly betting both the over and the under would have yielded a flat-bet loss. The big difference is that over bettors are down just a shade over $1,400, while blindly betting the under has yielded a loss of $10,000.
Totals of 10 or greater have been over wagers, going 46-34-4, good for a profit of $1,625 and an ROI of 8.7%.
There’s obviously no guarantee that the first-half trends will continue over the course of the season, but it’s getting more difficult to go against them after the results of 2015 and so far this season.