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It's A Good Year For Bettors In MLB

I had heard some rumblings that the early goings of the season haven't exactly been a lottery hit for sportsbooks on the major league baseball front. 

Then the Nevada Gaming Commission numbers came out and it turns out there was something to these rumblings after all. 

Sportsbooks in Nevada pulled in a handle of just 1.5 percent in the month of May - an indication that bettors are doing really well. 

Baseball is typically a sport where books clean up in a Bryce Harper-like fashion. The hold, or the profit that books make from the action that rolls in, is usually in the 6 to 7 percent range or higher for baseball. The hold was 6 percent or higher in four of the five Mays prior to that and that's typically better than numbers you see with other sports. 

I wanted to find out why May was a great month for bettors to see if there is any value still kicking around here. 

I got our numbers man on the case and what he found is that scoring is up and the chalk-eaters are getting their fill.  

“Faves and overs doing well tends to be worse for us,” Grant Richardson a spokesperson at Pinnacle, told me. 

Major League Baseball teams are averaging 8.98 runs per game to this point this season (all numbers are prior to July 5 games), which is way up from the 8.21 runs per game to this point last season. 

That’s left oddsmakers scrambling a little to keep totals high enough and it shows in the OVER/UNDER records. The O/U was 222-182-22 in May. That’s a win for the OVER of 55 percent – enough to blindly bet the OVER every game and still put some money in your wallet. 

Favorites went 256-161 in May, which is a win percentage for the chalk of 61.4. Bettors love betting the favorites simply because it usually means they get the better starting pitcher – on paper, at least. 

But it’s not just that the favorites are winning that’s hurting the sportsbooks. It’s also which favorites are winning. 

Prior to Tuesday’s games (July 5), there were 11 teams churning out a profit in MLB based on if you had wagered $100 on those teams for every game. Here’s a look at that list of moneymaking teams: 

Profitable teams in MLB through July 5
Texas Rangers$2624.78
San Francisco Giants992.65
Cleveland Indians 939.65
Baltimore Orioles805.28
Detroit Tigers543.41
Florida Marlins535.65
Kansas City Royals272.89
Philadelphia Phillies125.44
Chicago White Sox105.52
Pittsburgh Pirates51.32
Chicago Cubs16.32

Any time Cubs fans can line up at the ticket window, bet their team without thinking about it and still come away with a profit, it’s not good for sportsbooks. They have been able to count on Cubs profits for years and suddenly this massive 3-1 preseason World Series favorite is pulling in cash for the public, huge prices and all. 

Then there’s the Texas Rangers, last year’s AL West winners, who are simply destroying the House. The difference between them and the next closest team in terms of money made is over $1,700 – which is approaching double the profit the No. 2 Giants have made this year. 

When a divisional favorite does that to you, you don’t have much of a chance behind the counter. 

The World Series champion Kansas City Royals are also pulling in dough, as are the popular Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Betting against certain teams, or ‘fading’ as bettors say, has also been a dependable moneymaking strategy this year. Take a look at the seven most costly teams in the bigs: 

Least Profitable MLB Teams through July 5
Minnesota Twins$-2140.87
Cincinnati Reds-1760.84
Los Angeles Angels-1595.50
Tampa Bay Rays-1514.43
Atlanta Braves-1147.67
Oakland Athletics-1012.93
New York Yankees-932.64

The Twins were expected to be a bum club this year and they have lived up to expectations by producing the worst record in the AL to this point. The Braves, the worst record in all of the majors, have also proven to be a profitable mindless fade. 

So have the Yankees for that matter. They see such inflated prices that a record that hovers around .500 just isn’t going to cut it. 

All these factors have led to a bit of a rough year for the books when it comes to baseball. Hopefully, you keep them in mind as you move forward because this should have an impact on prices. And you always want to be extra careful of the odds in baseball, where the juice can squeeze you in a hurry. 

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