When Albert Pujols signed a ten-year deal with the Angels this offseason worth a whopping $254 million, fans and analysts alike forecasted that Los Angeles would cruise to the top of the AL West standings. Ditto for Prince Fielder who, after signing a nine-year, $214 contract with Detroit, figured to team with Miguel Cabrera for the best one-two punch in baseball.
Pujols has hit just two home runs, and the Angels are already seven games back of the Rangers with a 17-21 record. On the flip side, the Tigers are a game below .500 despite respectable production from their new first baseman (.293, 5 HR, 20 RBI). In fact, both of these teams have been amongst the best teams in baseball to bet against.
We’re now over a month into the season and five teams’ early-season struggles have provided significant value for contrarian bettors.
Joining them is a perennial public darling — the Boston Red Sox. They may not have made a splash in free agency like the aforementioned teams, however many anticipated the BoSox would come out with a vengeance after last year’s late season collapse. Instead, the Sox have endured injuries to stars Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis and are the only AL East team with a losing record at 17-20.
With just under a quarter of the season elapsed, bettors fading the Tigers, Sox and Angels would have combined to win 21.8 units. The table below — using data from Pinnacle — shows the five best teams to bet against this young season.
|Team||Record||Money Won||Return on Investment (ROI)|
|Los Angeles Angels||17-21||$920||24.2%|
|Boston Red Sox||17-20||$660||17.8%|
Perhaps most interesting about the failure of these three teams is the potential value gained on the futures market. Back on April 6th, the Tigers and Angels were tied with the third best odds at Bovada to win the 2012 World Series at 15/2.
While the Tigers still have the third best odds to win it all, they have dropped slightly and now sit at 9/1. On the other hand the Angels’ odds have plummeted, dropping all the way down to the number 11 spot at 18/1. And the Red Sox? They have seen their title chances cut in half, with their futures dropping from 10/1 to 20/1.
With an extra playoff spot in play this season, these early struggles have a less significant impact and all of these teams are certainly capable of turning their seasons around. If you liked any of these teams before the season, there could still be value by betting them now.