We’ve reached the two-thirds point in the shortened 2020 regular season with most teams having played at least 40 of their scheduled 60 games. The race to make the playoffs is in its final few weeks.
A couple of issues back, I commented on the progress of teams thus far this season with respect to their Season Win Totals, pointing out the teams that were the biggest overachievers and underachievers. Another way to view teams more aligned with our purposes is to consider the biggest money earners and money burners at the betting windows.
It’s no surprise to seasoned bettors that the two most profitable teams have been flirting with .500 records. Through Monday, San Francisco was 21-21 but it has been MLB’s most profitable team, up 10.5 units.
Right behind with 10.4 units of profit is Baltimore. At just 19-21 the Orioles are still in contention to make the playoffs as one of two AL Wild Cards, trailing the eighth-seeded Yankees by just a game and a half.
The teams with the best records often are barely profitable or negligibly unprofitable. This results from the often high prices these teams must lay to back them. While you suffer just one unit of loss when an underdog loses, favored team losses are more costly. Those losses are more than one unit and may be greater than two units when large underdogs — often bad teams — pull the upset.
That’s why the 30-12 Dodgers — 18 games above .500 — are just up 2.6 units for the season.
Two solid winning teams have been more than marginally profitable. The 26-15 White Sox are up 9.7 units and Tampa Bay — whose 28-14 record is the best in the AL — are up 7.2 units.
The seven most costly teams each have been unprofitable to their backers by 10 units or more, starting with Boston. The 14-28 Red Sox are down 13.7 units thus far. In order — Washington, Cincinnati, the Angels, Arizona, Texas and the Mets are the others.
What’s unusual about this list is that all seven teams have losing records. It is surprising that none has a winning record. Winning teams, especially big winning teams, are generally highly priced favorites, often laying 2-1 or more. Some are unprofitable over the season as laying such high prices in games they lose cost more than one unit while wins as a favorite earn just a single unit.
This trade off cannot compensate for the amount lost when the team loses even though the team wins more than it loses, often by a significant margin.
I’ve long tried to follow a strategy that goes along the lines of backing teams that have break even or losing records when priced as underdogs and using one of their better starters against a winning foe using the fifth, fourth or, on occasion, the third member of its rotation.
Remember, betting underdogs in baseball allows you to show a profit when cashing less than half your tickets. And by backing losing teams that have been profitable you are often backing just such teams in their most favorable or advantageous situations.
Red Sox at Rays: Boston has had some wildly successful and unsuccessful seasons over the past decade. This one will be one of the latter. Boston’s offense has been average but when in the field the BoSox are allowing an MLB high 6.3 runs per game.
Zack Godley was signed as a free agent in July to be part of the recobbled Red Sox rotation. The results to date have been awful. Seven of his eight appearances have been starts with a 9.47 ERA and 2.11 WHIP while averaging just 3.5 innings per start.
We may not get many more opportunities to go against this journeyman starter who’s spent most of his time in the National League with Arizona. Rays over GODLEY
Braves at Nationals: It’s been a disappointing summer for the defending World Series champs who are virtually certain to miss the playoffs. Thought to have one of baseball’s top rotations, the Nats’ starters have struggled, perhaps none more so than lefty Patrick Corbin. He’s had brief flashes of success in eight starts but the overall results have not been pretty.
The Nats are just 2-6 in his starts and he’s averaging under six innings per start. He was roughed up by Atlanta in his last start this past Sunday and he’s scheduled face the Braves again this weekend. The Braves have MLB’s third-most productive offense at 5.5 runs per game. Braves over CORBIN
Mariners vs. Diamondbacks or Athletics: After starting poorly Seattle has made a nice run over the past few weeks to be a borderline playoff contender. Part of the Mariners’ success has been lefty starter Marco Gonzales. The 28-year-old has may finally be blossoming into a quality starter. His 46-4 strikeout-to-walk split is impressive and he’s averaging 6.3 innings per start, a high average by today’s standards.
It’s possible he might start in Sunday’s series finale at Arizona in a game likely to be close to pick ‘em or in one of Monday’s doubleheader games against Oakland in which he could come the underdog. GONZALES over Diamondbacks or Athletics
Last week: 2-1