MLB Early Betting Trends
We’re not even into the three weeks into the Major League Baseball season, but a number of storylines have already been put into play from a betting perspective. Low-scoring games appear to be the current topic, as 105 games have gone BELOW the total, while only 88 have played MORE THAN THE total. Cold weather has been the catalyst for the lower-scoring trend with many games being played in below-average temperatures, especially in the Midwest and East Coast. Pitchers certainly have the advantage in colder temperatures, as they are the only player on the field who can stay warm with constant activity. Also, we have seen some extreme wind gusts. Games played in windy conditions are conducive to more scoring, but the ball just doesn’t travel as far in cold weather as has been the case in the beginning. This year, many will point out that baseball’s toughest drug testing rules for hitters are “lowered.” There may be some validity to that sentiment. In fact, 20 teams boast a team ERA of 4.00 or less, which is not normally seen in recent times.
There are other theories at play as well. Last year, the World Baseball Classic wreaked havoc on the pitching corps across the league earlier in the season as pitchers who participated in the Classic went out of their normal spring training routines. Many suffered injuries that damaged overall pitching depth and forced pitchers who simply weren’t ready for the daily grind of the Major League season into action. This equates to an increase in runs last year.
A handful of teams have really struggled at the plate on offense, including St. Louis, Oakland, Chicago White Sox and the Angels. The Angels, Athletics and White Sox have a combined 30-9 trend toward the UNDER. The Athletics rank last in slugging percentage at .329 and there isn’t a single Oakland player with more than one home run to start. To be fair, they have faced above-average pitchers and this team is well known for their struggles early in the season.
A slow start from Albert Pujols has hampered the Cardinals, yet he has picked up the pace in recent days. Pujols hasn’t really been the dilemma for the Cardinals, though, as Jim Edmonds slings a measly .220 while injury has also hampered Scott Rolen.
Still, there are teams that are scoring runs or perhaps better said, allowing runs and with a trend HIGHER than the total. Philadelphia, Florida and Tampa Bay have traded OVER the total at a combined rate of 28-11. Coincidence? Probably not, as the Devil-Rays and Phillies rank one-two at the bottom of the team’s ERA rankings. Once again, this Tampa Bay franchise just can’t pitch off young Scott Kazmir, while even he has climbed to a 5.25 ERA. The Devil Rays ERA stands at a heartbreaking 6.23. On the bright side is a young core of position players with a sweet edge, including Carl Crawford, Elijah Dukes, BJ Upton and Delmon Young.
Few would say the Phillies are a complete mess right now, as they look up the ranks from the Washington Nationals. Many thought of Philadelphia to have one of the best starting pitching corps in the National League. Brett Myers has led the bad pitchers with a scandalous 8.82 ERA, and the Phillies’ top brass, in a highly questionable move, have beaten Myers to the bullpen.
From a side or team perspective, the free-spending Chicago Cubs have stalled to start the season. The Cubs are currently 5-9 on the season with a drop of over 6.5 betting units and are once again overpriced by the market. This can happen when a franchise spends more than $ 300 million in the off-season looking for lightning in a bottle. Of course, as the Cubs have discovered repeatedly, it is easier to set up a contender than to present a contender. It’s intriguing to see how many additions the Cubs have played well, with Ted Lilly hitting a 2.37 ERA and Jason Marquis a surprising 2.65. Let’s say the jury is still out on the 2007 Cubs. The Cubs may not have gotten off to a good start, but we’ve seen another National League team emerge as a potential contender earlier this year.
The Atlanta Braves have regained their arrogance after a disappointing 79-83 2006 season. The Braves sit atop the National League East at 10-4, but show a modest four-point betting win. In taking down the Braves, the answer for change is easily found in the bullpen. Last year, the relief pitch consistently killed the Braves as they blew a staggering 29 save opportunities. This year, the team has only saved once with a 4-0 record. Give credit to the Braves decision makers as they brought in live weapons from both sides of the mound, including Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano. Plus, starter Tim Hudson appears to be in his past form for Oakland with a minuscule 0.86 ERA in three starts. With their key offseason additions and a strong combination of youth and experience, the Braves appeared poised to regain their position as the best team in the NL East.
The baseball season is long, 162 games, and many trends will unfold in the coming months. What is true today does not necessarily mean that it will be true tomorrow, but it is interesting to note the wild start to the 2007 campaign.
For more information on Erin Rynning, as well as more blogs and articles from Sports Memo handicappers, visit our website at http://www.sportsmemo.com.