6/12/2009 5:00 PM EST
By The Team at SportsInsights.com
Welcome to the 2009 MLB Sports Marketwatch, where the Team at SportsInsights gives sports fans unprecedented insight into the sports marketplace. If you ever wanted to know what was really happening on the sportsbook side, you now have an all-access pass with Sports Marketwatch! Sports MarketWatch will be published twice weekly on Tuesday and Friday, around 5PM Eastern Time.
Sports Marketplace – MLB Edition
It’s difficult to feel confident when you bet against the consensus best pitcher in baseball over the last few years. On the other hand, when you catch him on a night that he gets pulled against his will after giving up 4 home runs in only 91 pitches, you’ve got to like your chances. That was the case Tuesday night, but the defending champion Phillies’ bullpen let them down yet again. The Mets scored late and hung on for a 6-5 win. Our other featured game was tight as well. Dontrelle Willis and the Tigers seemed to have things in hand heading into the ninth inning with a 3-run lead. Closer Fernando Rodney promptly walked the bases loaded, and former closer Brandon Lyon gave up a bases-clearing double. Fortunately, Miguel Cabrera hit a solo bomb in the tenth, and Detroit’s 7-6 victory secured a money-winning split for yet another issue.
Baseball can be a very profitable sport to bet on when you base it off moneyline odds, especially when betting underdogs. The “plus odds” is a reason that MLB moneyline dogs can show value over time. Most people like to win – thus overvaluing winning teams. Our selections on moneyline underdogs will normally hit at less than 50%, but the “plus odds” payoff makes it a profitable investment.
2009 MLB Games to Watch: 22-15, 59.5%, +14.71 units
Sports MarketWatch – MLB Games to Watch
Pittsburgh Pirates +122 over Detroit Tigers
I’m not about to call Pittsburgh a juggernaut, but it’s hard not to be a little impressed at what they’re doing thus far this season. Granted, they are four games below .500 and next to last in their division. Their division can claim to have, however, if not the best teams, then at least the most good teams. One could easily argue that the four teams ahead of Pittsburgh are all capable of taking the division, and the Pirates are sitting only five games out. If you’re not a believer, you’re not the only one; team ownership felt obligated after trading centerfielder Nate Mcouth to Atlanta to write a letter to season-ticket holders reassuring them that they weren’t packing it in for 2009. Yet fans can’t be disappointed with his replacement, stud prospect Andrew McCutchen, who is hitting .316 in eight games and wowing everyone with his speed on the basepaths. The boys in black and gold have won six out of ten in June, and it is worth noting, since they have also won two in a row, that they already have three 3-game winning streaks in this young season.
I would write about their interleague opponent Detroit Tigers and starter Rick Porcello, a team and a rookie that have both had surprising and outstanding early results, but I’d rather let the numbers do the talking. Detroit opened as a -130 road favorite at Pinnacle and have received, at the time of writing, exactly 70% of moneyline bets, as well as 67% of runline and 72% of parlay wagers. Instead of growing in proportion to this disparity in betting percentages, the line has moved in the reverse direction, with Detroit now at -127 at Pinnacle. We’ve seen a Steam Move triggered on Pittsburgh at Bet Jamaica (43-26, +9.9 Units Won), and that’s not all. The 70-30% public bets ratio has proven consistently profitable since we started collecting data in 2003, as shown in our MLB Bet Against the Public article. Betting on the home team with 30% of the bets has resulted in +64 Units Won! In this battle of blue-collar cities, we’re going to trust the numbers and play on the Pirates.
Florida Marlins +205 over Toronto Blue Jays
You don’t have to say it; I know Halladay is heading to the hill. I know he’s pitched two complete games in a row, with 20 strikeouts in 18 innings. I’m fully aware of his stellar peripherals, his incredible work ethic and what a delicious meatloaf he makes. I get it! And I love watching him pitch, mainly because it’s so clear that he loves to pitch. He is a threat to go the distance every single time. The reason I don’t think it’s crazy to bet against Ol’ Roy has little to do with Roy himself. It has a little to do with each of the following tidbits. First, the Toronto lineup that absolutely mashed to begin the season has been decidedly mediocre over the last 30 days, placing 13th in the majors in batting average and tied for 24th in runs scored. In that same period, the Marlins were 12th in average and 9th in runs scored. Florida starter Ricky Nolasco has been admittedly disappointing this season, but he returned from a break in the minors with a respectable start, giving up 2 earned runs over 7 innings against the Giants. After his impressive second half last season, there may only be a small window to take advantage of his starts being undervalued. That’s what Sports MarketWatch is here to do – find the value in underdog lines. Dogs that are getting more than 2-to-1 odds won’t hit at a high rate, but our data says the payoff is worth it. Of course, it shouldn’t hurt your confidence that we’ve picked against Halladay once already this season and won.
With more proof of our opinion’s unpopularity, Toronto opened as -275 favorites at one of the market-setting sportsbooks, CRIS. Despite receiving 81% of moneyline wagers, as well as over 90% of runline and parlay bets, their odds have dropped significantly. They now sit at -245 at CRIS and are down as low as the mid -220s across much of the sports marketplace. Such big reverse line movement almost certainly reflects sharp money, and the overwhelming disparity in public bets makes it a prime candidate to be a Square Play before the first pitch is thrown. The +205 line is available at a number of books, and if you’re a member at the betting exchange Matchbook, you can get a line as juicy as +214. Let’s back the young Marlins and hope for a gutty performance across the border.
Games to Watch (22-15, +14.71 units)
Pittsburgh Pirates +122
Florida Marlins +205
It should be another exciting weekend in the sports marketplace. Keep Sports MarketWatch picks handy and your browser pointed to SportsInsights.com for the latest real-time updates, using our exclusive Sports Investing tools. We’ll be back Tuesday with the new edition of the Sports Marketwatch – MLB Edition.
Enjoy the games!
The Team at SportsInsights.com