MLB Betting Strategy: Updated Underdogs With High Totals

More than two years ago we posted an article examining the correlation between totals (also known as the over/under) and the performance of underdogs. Our results showed that as totals increased, underdogs performed increasingly well for bettors. Essentially, high totals equate to more scoring and more unpredictability and this volatility was disproportionately beneficial to the team receiving plus money.

This strategy was not meant to be a standalone system; merely one factor for bettors to consider when handicapping games. There are countless factors that bettors should consider before placing a wager including:

  1. Baseball is the only sport in which home field is actually undervalued. Most of this value is derived from the fact that MLB home teams receive a tangible advantage aside from crowd noise — the last at bat of every game.
  2. Teams who lost their previous game have traditionally been undervalued. Bettors frequently overreact to small sample sizes, and bettors can jump on lines that are artificially inflated based on public perception.
  3. Falling in line with our contrarian philosophy, teams with winning records tend to be overvalued while teams with losing records tend to be undervalued. This concept is on display in our 2015 MLB Betting Against the Public Report.
  4. Although underdogs have been historically undervalued, it’s actually small dogs that have performed at the highest level. Many sportsbooks increase the juice on large underdogs, so bettors should ideally focus on dogs of +150 or less.
  5. Reverse line movement, which refers to line movement that contradicts our public betting percentages, is an excellent indicator of sharp money.
  6. Steam moves refer to sudden drastic and uniform line movement across the entire sports betting marketplace. This feature is only available to our Sportsbook Insider subscribers, but is another example of a sharp money indicator. For baseball bettors, the Pinnacle MLB moneyline steam move has earned +251.85 units all-time including +64.88 units in 2015.

In addition to these basic strategies, we have published a number of lucrative betting systems that readers can find in the MLB section of our blog. However, we wanted to know whether underdogs with high totals had maintained profitability over the past two years.

The table below, with line data from the market-setting Pinnacle sportsbook, displays how all underdogs have fared since the start of the 2015 MLB season.

Total Record Winning Percentage Units Won ROI
All 11,034-14,701 42.9% -338.61 -1.3%
6+ 11,025-14,688 42.9% -336.15 -1.3%
6.5+ 10,954-14,591 42.9% -336.87 -1.3%
7+ 10,575-14,098 42.9% -322.79 -1.3%
7.5+ 9,610-12,758 43.0% -218.76 -1.0%
8+ 8,027-10,624 43.0% -16.360 -0.9%
8.5+ 6,649-8,640 43.5% +36.03 +0.2%
9+ 4,573-6,045 43.1% -59.78 -0.6%
9.5 2,648-3,473 43.3% +7.69 +0.1%
10+ 1,273-1,638 43.7% +29.44 +1.0%
10.5+ 687-841 45.0% +55.82 +3.7%
11+ 231-290 44.3% +4.56 +0.9%
11.5+ 91-98 48.1% +13.74 +7.3%
12+ 38-41 48.1% +4.40 +5.6%
12.5+ 23-19 54.8% +8.75 +20.8%

Just like we found in our initial analysis, we noticed that both the winning percentage and return on investment (ROI) improved as the total increased. We also found that underdogs became profitable when the total closed at 8.5 or higher. However, perhaps the most interesting takeaway was that there hasn’t been a closing total of 12 or higher in the past two and a half years.

With totals dropping across baseball, we wanted to focus solely on the performance of underdogs in games with high over/unders since the start of the 2013 season.

Total Record Winning Percentage Units Won ROI
8.5+ 927-1,140 44.8% +19.71 +1.0%
9+ 462-565 45.0% +11.65 +1.1%
9.5+ 197-222 47.0% +20.51 +4.9%
10+ 89-95 48.4% +12.59 +6.8%
10.5+ 52-50 51.0% +11.48 +11.3%
11+ 12-14 46.2% +0.46 +1.8%
11.5 2-4 33.3% -1.76 -29.3%

Since we originally posted our analysis on dogs with high totals, teams fitting these criteria have continued to be profitable. Our return on investment has increased at every data point with the exception of 11 and 11.5 and, in all fairness, the sample size for those data points are very small and not necessarily the best indicator.

We’d like to stress that you should not be betting on every underdog when the total is at least 8.5, but it continues to be a profitable trend that should be taken into consideration before placing a wager or creating a new betting system.

Have any questions for the staff at Sports Insights? Utilize our live chat to speak with a customer service representative or e-mail us at help@sportsinsights.com.

David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.

The following two tabs change content below.

David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

2 Comments Permalink
2 comments on “MLB Betting Strategy: Updated Underdogs With High Totals
  1. In this system the higher the total starting at about 8′ the greater the chance of underdog winning, can you break that down further taking into consideration the money line 110-130 130-150 150-170 170-200 and 200 and up also if team is Home or road, Division , League, or inter league and have each month noted. You would have to go back a couple of years.. These are the type of things I do for myself . Do you need someone the make these types of charts… I’m currently charting NFL game flow for the first half and looking for a correlation for the 2nd half.

    • As a general statement, small underdogs have been historically more profitable than huge moneyline dogs. We’ve also seen that home teams are vastly undervalued by bettors, so you should be focusing on home dogs of +135 or less.

Say something

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with a grey bar.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>