MLB’s worst teams are bad as expected

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The 2019 season is almost one month complete and there have yet to be signs of any outstanding teams. But there are a handful of teams that have lived down to expectations.

As a general guideline, I consider an excellent team to be one that wins 75 percent of its home games and at least 50 percent of road games. A team that meets both of those requirements as a minimum would be projected to win at least 101 games.

Conversely, a team that wins no more than 50 percent of its home games and no more than 25 percent of its road games would project to win 61 or fewer games, losing 101 or more.

It’s not unusual for one or more teams to get off to usually hot or cold starts to a season before performance levels off. Two teams have gotten off to the bad starts expected of them – Baltimore and Miami.

Despite success in its opening series of the season that included cashing tickets at +340 and +280 at the Yankees, the Orioles began play Tuesday with an 8-16 record, third worst in all of baseball and on a pace to win just 54 games. That would be an improvement of seven wins over last season yet still fall short of their Season Wins Total (SWT) of 59.

The second worst record currently belongs to Kansas City. At 7-16, the Royals – who won the World Series just four seasons ago (2015) – are on pace to win just 49 games, nine fewer than last season and 20 fewer than their SWT of 69.

Finally, baseball’s worst record is the 6-16 fashioned by Miami. The Marlins are on a pace to post just 44 wins. Their SWT was set at 63.5 after having won 63 last season.

But the way we look at things from a wagering perspective, only two of those three teams have been costly to their backers and none of the trio ranks at the bottom or even second to last in terms of profits and losses.

By virtue of usually being huge underdogs and having already noted two of their wins at huge prices Baltimore is actually showing 1.9 units of profit at the betting windows.

But both Miami and Kansas City have fared as poorly as might normally be expected given their current records. The Marlins are down 6.8 units and the Royals have cost backers 8.0 units.

If you’ve been following the early season results or have even just checked the standings on a routine basis you can probably guess the two teams that have been the most costly to backers.

Boston, which won 108 games last season, stood just 9-13 through Monday which translated to a net loss of an astonishing 12.5 units through just 22 games.

Their Division rival Yankees have fared slightly better. Not so affectionately referred to as the “Bronx Bummers” by their backers this season, the Yanks are down 8.4 units despite their winning record of 12-10.

It’s reasonable to expect that both the Yankees and Red Sox will improve in their on the field performance over the remaining 140 games but it will be interesting to see how that improvement will reflect itself in the way Las Vegas keeps score.

The best money making teams over the first month have been Seattle (plus 8.9 units), Texas (plus 8.7) and Minnesota (plus 6.8).

As I’ve written in the past, I usually don’t form strong opinions about teams’ in season performance until around Memorial Day. That is often referred to as the first major milepost of a new season. By that time teams will have played 25 games both at home and on the road and will have faced strong, average and weak teams.

It’s not unusual to find some teams to play at attractive prices to win either a pennant or the World Series between the start of June and the All Star break in mid July. I’ll keep my eyes open for such potential teams as that time frame draws near.

Here are thoughts on three weekend series:

Brewers at Mets: Both teams have modest winning records a month into the season and are expected to be playoff contenders. The Brewers have a power-packed lineup that had hit 47 home runs through Monday. Their starting pitching is average at best but they have a solid bullpen with depth. 

The Mets have the better starting pitching and an outstanding closer in Edwin Diaz. But their overall bullpen pitching has struggled. Their offense has been better than last season with significant contributions being made by a pair of rookies, Pete Alonzo and Jeff McNeil. 

It’s still early and the numbers can change dramatically as the result of just one or two starts. But the numbers do suggest this will be a high-scoring series. Aside from making a case for the over a case can also be made for the underdog. 

Thus my approach to this series will be to back Milwaukee if the price is +150 or more as well as looking to play over totals of 8.5 or lower. That includes in a start by Jacob deGrom who may be handled cautiously just in case there are some underlying issues with the elbow even though the MRI on his elbow came back clean. Note that the Mets have started 15-5-2 to the over through Monday.

Rays at Red Sox: In sweeping their three game series in Tampa last weekend the Red Sox may have sent a signal that things are starting to turn around for the defending World Series champs. There are still major concerns with Boston’s pitching, both with starters and relievers. 

But there is also concern for an offense that is averaging just 4.2 runs per game. The Rays continue to lead the AL East, but Boston has a chance to again cut into its deficit by taking at least two games of this three game series. 

Boston will be without starter Nathan Eovaldi for perhaps six weeks after undergoing surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow. Eovaldi has been one their more “effective” early season starters but his 6.00 ERA and 1.52 WHIP through four starts show how poor the other starters have been. And that includes ace Chris Sale. 

I expect Boston’s offense to improve significantly over the next few weeks and for the starting pitching to round into established form. Only David Price has pitched well thus far and his start will be my preferred play for this series and I will back him laying the run and a half. In fact, that will be my approach throughout this series, looking to back the Red Sox on the run line provided we get a plus price for laying the run and a half.

Yankees at Giants: Things are not going as hoped for the Giants in Bruce Bochy’s final season as San Francisco manager. The Giants are in last place in the NL West through Monday with a 9-14 record. The Yankees are 12-10 which while appearing to be a rather ordinary start must be viewed in the context of all the injuries they’ve suffered. Slugger Aaron Judge has been the latest to hit the IL. The Yankees have gotten solid starting pitching from Masahiro Tanaka as ace Luis Severino remains sidelined. CC Sabathia has pitched well in his two starts though limited to just five innings in each. And James Paxton has started to find the form that made him an ace in Seattle the past few seasons. 

The Giants have gotten decent starting pitching but their problem has been an offense that has generated just 2.9 runs per game to date. That sets this up as a low scoring series considering the Yankees’ loss of offense due to injuries. 

The preferred play throughout this series will be under totals of 7.5 or higher. The Yankees are worth playing in games in which they are either made the underdog (perhaps against Madison Bumgarner) or if favored by -130 or less in starts by Paxton or Tanaka should either get a start in this series. 

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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