One thing handicappers should be able to do is be willing to change. Methods which worked in the past aren’t guaranteed to work in the future and commonly held beliefs may see a reversal over the years, which is the center of this article and a trend which developed between the 2013 and 2015 Major League Baseball seasons.
Like many gamblers who got their start in the 1970s or 1980s, one of the first things which we know is that wagering large favorites in baseball was a sucker wager, particularly those favorites of -200 or greater. There is the tale of Leroy, a dishwasher in Las Vegas in the 1960s and turned a borrowed $50 into thousands of dollars by backing the huge name pitchers of the day, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, etc., and lay large odds when they were on the mound. As the tale goes, Leroy finally came crashing back down to earth by laying such odds and within a few years was back to washing dishes, a reminder of what happens when you lay odds of bigger than -200 in baseball.
However, is the premise still valid in 2016? Not if the past few years are any indication.
Modern Day Large Favorites
After having it ingrained in my head that you should not wager favorites of -200 or more, I often bypassed those games when looking at the daily schedule, but after the 2015 season saw favorites win at an unprecedented ratio, had a look at different groups of baseball favorites, like home or away, bigger and smaller favorites and was definitely surprised by what I saw.
Between 2013 and 2015, wagering nothing but favorites of -200 or greater would have generated a 372-145 record, which is a 72% winning ratio, but more importantly, would have yielded a $4,215 profit and a 3.6% return on money at risk.
If the favored team is off a loss, they were 142-55 in their next game, which was bettor for a $2,040 profit and a 4.5% return on money risked, which is better than all favorites.
There was not much difference in the amount of money gained whether the favored team was at home on the road, but there were fewer instances in which the road team was such a huge favorite. Between 2013 and 2015, home favorites were 335-137 for a gain of $2,270, based on wagering enough money to win $100 on each game. Road favorites were 37-8 for a profit of $1,945 and a return of 19.4% on the amount of money wagered. Certainly much better than you will find at your local bank.
Away favorites off of a loss were 10-0 between 2013 and 2015, generating a return of roughly 45% for every dollar bet. While that is unlikely to go on, taking away favorites off a loss has been a consistent money maker over the years, even when other huge favorites were not performing nearly as well as they have the past 3 seasons. Between 2004 and 2015, away favorites of -200 or more off a loss have gone 95-33 for a profit of $2,500 and a return of 9% on every dollar at risk, so it is something that bettors cannot afford to overlook in the 2016 baseball season.