4 Ways to Bet Against the Public in Baseball Handicapping

Baseball Pitcher With a Baseball Background

Season totals, World Series, moneyline, and run line bets are all impacted by the talent level of an MLB or KBO team’s entire roster.

One player can’t make or break a team’s performance. Teams need complete rosters to be competitive.

The public influences how online sportsbooks adjust odds when they’re offering MLB or KBO bets, so learning the public’s tendencies can help you make well-informed wagers.

1 – Don’t Pick Popular Teams

The Cubs received a surge in popularity after winning the World Series in 2016. For over a century, the players from Wrigley Field were known as the lovable losers.

The Cubs hadn’t won the World Series since 1908. Their streak of not winning the championship became one of the longest in professional sports history and the longest in American sports history.

While the streak was embarrassing to the many players, managers, and owners of the team and depressing to lifelong Cubs fans, some of whom spent their entire life waiting for a World Series that never came, it also gave the Cubs bragging rights to being one of the worst franchises.

So, when the Cubs finally lifted the curse and won the World Series in 2016, there were some mixed reactions. On the one hand, Cubs fans were ecstatic that their team had finally sealed the deal, defeating the Cleveland Indians in a dramatic seven-game series to win their first World Series since 1908.

MLB Player Making Play at Home

Lifelong Cubs fans got the closure they’d been waiting for as their favorite team finally broke the curse. On the other hand, many new Cubs fans appeared out of nowhere. Many baseball fans identified with the lovable losers finally winning a World Series ring and made the Cubs their favorite team.

As of 2020, the Cubs have the third most fans on Facebook among any baseball team. While the Yankees and Red Sox are easy leaders, with 8.5 and 5.3 million likes on Facebook respectively, the Cubs are next, with 3.4 million fans on the social media platform.

Seemingly overnight, the Cubs became the third most popular team. The more popular a team is, the more betting action they’ll receive. Sportsbooks will give worse odds to the most popular teams because they know they’ll always get lots on on those teams.

The Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants are the five most popular teams based on Facebook, and these teams will always be heavily favored in moneyline bets thanks to the public’s interest and their rabid fan base.

While there’s always a time when a bet on one of these teams makes sense, it’s also a great strategy to lean towards less popular teams. Avoid betting on these teams if you can, unless you find really great odds on a Red Sox or Giants game.

2 – Favor Teams Who Improved Over the Last Year

Similar to betting on less popular teams, it’s also wise to bet on teams that struggled the preceding year but had the potential to improve. These teams will often offer great value bets, as many don’t expect them to sustain a solid performance.

Many teams start off a year hot, only to fade as the weather gets warmer and summer burns on. As a result, many baseball fans will be skeptical of a team like the Twins going 15-8 through April and wait for the team to fall back to earth.

While it’s impossible to know which team’s going to take the next step in becoming a divisional winner, there are usually signs indicating that a team is ready to improve. The 2018 Twins finished the year with a fairly mediocre record and the team went 78-84, with the worse statistical Pythagorean record of 77-85.

The team played a little below average all around. While some teams get unlucky and perform like an average team in spite of above-average performances, the Twins did not fall into that category. The team had a 96 OPS+, meaning the team was 4% worse than league-average at hitting. The pitching was the same, at 96 ERA+, indicating the team’s pitching was also 4% worse than league-average.

Despite the team not playing above average by any conventional metric, they had enough young players that you could have seen their meteoric rise coming. Jorge Polanco was an above-average player in 2018, but he took a huge step forward in 2019. The 25-year-old blossomed and led the position players of the team in WAR. Polanco had long been a contributor to the Twins, but taking his game to the next level helped the Twins win the central division in 2019.

Byron Buxton, who has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, also helped the Twins win the Central in 2019. Even though he once again missed time, playing in only 98 games for the season, he was an above-average player. His 3.1 WAR gave the team a big boost.

Buxton’s production could have been predicted by a savvy baseball fan. For a long time, he was one of the top prospects in the league, and he finally lived up to his prospect pedigree in the 2019 season, helping the Twins win the division.

Things to look for when predicting which teams will improve include the following:

  • Former top prospects who are still in their prime. Players like Byron Buxton or Jurickson Profar could take a big step forward in any season and propel a team to the postseason
  • Free agents signed by a club can also signal an improving situation. Nelson Cruz was a key part of the Twins tremendous 2019 season.
  • Traded players can also improve a team significantly. Patching up a hole in the roster, like acquiring a new third baseman, can help bring a team out of the cellar in a single offseason.

3 – Bet on Obscure Teams

Oftentimes, the teams with the least fans turn in a fantastic season. The 2019 Rays are a great example of this phenomenon. The team averaged a paltry 14,552 fans per game but still managed to get to the playoffs. The team is often mocked for its poorly-attended games.

Fans report that you can hear the individual shouts of the players and umpires in the quiet, poorly-attended stadium. Despite the lack of a crowd cheering them on, the cost-conscious Rays turned in a fantastic season. Like the A’s, the Rays have one of the more savvy front offices in the MLB.

Management helps the team acquire players that other teams overlook, or they attempt to unlock the hidden potential in under-performing players. Tommy Pham was a big part of the Ray’s success in 2019. Pham had issues with the Cardinals and there were reports of him not getting along with the upper management.

The Rays seized the opportunity, traded for Pham, and they were rewarded with a great season from the outfielder. Pham stole 19 bases and hit 14 home runs for the Rays, helping lead them to a spot in the postseason.

Few bettors bet on the Rays compared to more popular teams like the Cubs or Dodgers, so making a moneyline or run line bet on them can be a great way to get value from your sports betting. If the Rays can pull off another coup this year, they could be a solid team to bet on.

4 – Wager on Teams Without Stars

While the Rays don’t have any stars, they still manage to be a competitive team. Some teams operate in the opposite fashion.

The Angels got some great star-level performances out of multiple players in 2019, but still managed to end the season 4th in the division with a 72-90 record. Mike Trout is already a hall-of-famer, even though he’s just now entering his age-28 season.

The slugging center fielder has been called the next Mickey Mantle, and he may even be able to outperform Mantle’s career totals by the end of his career.

Despite having one of the best players in the game in Mike Trout, in addition to two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, the Angles have been a poor pick to win lots of games in the regular season, much less a World Series prop bet pick.

MLB Yankees Players Celebrating

While many would expect the Angels to be able to make it to the World Series with one of the best players in baseball, they’ve had no such luck. Unlike basketball or football betting, where one player can make or break a team, baseball’s a more team-orientated sport where the whole roster needs to contribute.

Teams that prioritize depth like the Cardinals or Rays will often have more success than teams with one- or two star players like the Angels. The Angels have yet to win a playoff game, despite having a superstar like Mike Trout, helping prove the adage that winning baseball games is a team effort.

While it’s tempting to bet on a team with a star, try to focus on the whole roster when you’re making KBO or MLB moneyline bets.

Conclusion

Betting against the public in baseball just might be the key to success for your sports betting bankroll. Do you consider the opinion of the public when you bet on baseball? Let us know in the comments.