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Betting Baseball Favorites

When looking at the baseball schedule on any particular day, bettors will always notice when there is a large favorite of -200 or more. Even though the odds are extremely high, it’s often tempting to back the favorite, as it seems like there is no way they can lose.
When the odds exceed -200, there is almost always a huge advantage in starting pitchers, not to mention the favored teams is usually better and the majority of the time will be playing at home.

Sports gambling isn’t that easy, however, and those who play such large favorites are probably going to be in the hole at the end of the season.

One reason for this is that there is more parity in baseball than any other sport. You won’t see a team win at an .800 ratio like you’ll see in football or basketball. Over the past three-plus years, the 2005 Chicago White Sox posted the best winning percentage, as the team won at a .611 ratio, while the 2005 Kansas City Royals were the worst team in terms of winning percentage, winning at a .346 clip.

The 2008 Season

Through the first four weeks of the 2008 baseball season there have been 15 favorites of -200 or more. Of these, nine were winners and there were six losers, which is an impressive 60-percent winners, but which yielded a loss of $435. With large favorites often having a 30-cent differential on the moneyline, those backing each of the large favorites would show a profit of roughly $250 so far this season.
Of the 15 favorites of -200 or more, just two were road teams and they both came through as winners, making home favorites of -200 or more an even worse bet in the early going of the season, as they would be 7-6, but would show a loss of $635 so far this season.

Using the Run Line

Many people prefer to use the run line when backing the large favorites and will lay the 1.5 runs for the opportunity to lay much smaller odds. Traditionally, home favorites will be about 90 cents cheaper on the run line than they are on the moneyline, so a favorite of -220 can be bet in the vicinity of -130 when the better gives the underdog 1.5 runs.
Road favorites are generally about 50 cents cheaper on the run line, as they will bat in the ninth inning with a one run lead, while the home team will not. So the -220 favorite will be closer to -170 if the bettor lays the 1.5 runs.

These figures are just averages, as several other factors come into play, such as the total number of runs expected to be scored, as it figures to be more difficult for the favorite to win by at least two runs if the total is 7 or 7.5, while if the total is 10.5 or 11, the favorite should have an easier time winning by two or more runs.

Through the first month of the 2008 season, our 15 favorites of -200 or more are just 7-8 on the run line, as two of the nine wins were by just one run. But because of the difference in odds, those bettors would have lost slightly less than the bettors who wagered on the large favorites on the moneyline. But both were losing propositions so far.

The next time you see a large favorite, remember that the team is likely to win, but probably not at a high enough ratio to cover your losses when the large favorites do happen to lose.

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