By Adam Thompson | | 4 mins
MLB Return Shatters Betting Expectations As Trends Emerge
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Major League Baseball is typically king of sports betting in the summer. But the numbers coming out of the opening weekend shows how hungry American bettors have been clamoring for action on the diamonds.
MLB betting through the first four days of the 2020 season not only exceeded sportsbook expectations, it shattered them. Betting giant William Hill and the Westgate sportsbook in Las Vegas each reported Saturday’s full day of MLB action produced the most handle in a single day since March, according to ESPN
DraftKings Sportsbook reported that Thursday’s opener between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals was the most heavily bet baseball game in its two-year history. Saturday’s matinee between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets ranked in the top 10.
“The handle on baseball, I thought it was going to be great, and it is great,” DraftKings’ Johnny Avello told ESPN.com.
Underdogs Rule Weekend
MLB parity has hit a new level in 2020. For the first time in 66 years, no team is 3-0 and no team is 0-3 through three games of a season. It was 1954 the last time that happened, and there were just 16 teams back then.
A prevailing thought leading into the delayed start to the MLB season was that favorites may have the advantage — better teams with more depth can better overcome the unique circumstances a little better, at least early on.
That hypothesis proved true — early on. Through the opening 16 games of the 2020 MLB season, the favorites won 14 of the 16 matchups.
But the dogs bit back in a big way over the weekend. On Saturday, the underdogs went 7-5 straight up, including the Giants (+320) over the Dodgers, and the Royals and Nationals also winning at +200 or higher.
On Sunday, more of the same, as underdogs went 8-4, including the Giants at +270, Mariners at +230 and Marlins at +190.
Under Hits The Mark
Last season, MLB games averaged 9.6 runs per game, a sizeable jump from the 8.9 runs per game in 2018.
The start of this season has looked a lot more like 2018 than 2020. Through four days and three games for the majority of teams, scoring is down a full run per game, to 8.6.
Not surprising, then, the Under was a big winner on opening action. While the Over went 8-6 in Saturday’s games, the Under was 20-11 on the other three days combined. Overall, then, the Under finished 26-19.
The Over hit in all three games between the White Sox and Twins, while the Rockies-Rangers series produced three Unders.
Run Line Winners, Losers
How a team produces against the run line — -1.5 runs for favorites, +1.5 for underdogs — shows whether a team is exceeding expectations, or failing to meet them.
The Braves are exceeding. Atlanta was favored in two games and underdog in one vs. the Mets, but covered against the run line in each instance.
The Rockies, meanwhile, were underdog across the board at the Rangers, but they went 2-1 with the lone loss a 1-0 setback Saturday.
World Series Odds See Shift
It’s been just three games for most teams, but that was enough for World Series odds to shift one way or another for various teams.
The big winners: The biggest drop in odds came from the biggest underdogs in the field. Most of that was due to Thursday’s announcement that 16 teams would make the 2020 MLB Playoffs, instead of the usual 10.
The Tigers dropped even more after their 2-1 start to the year, from +40000 to +30000 after the postseason announcement, then down to +22000 after the weekend.
The big losers: The Boston Red Sox lost two of three to the Orioles; that was enough for their championship odds to rise from +2500 to +4300, the biggest jump since Opening Day.
The Houston Astros won two of three vs. the Mariners, but lost reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander for an undetermined amount of time. Houston’s World Series betting odds rose from +750 to +1400, though it’s still No. 3 on most boards behind the Yankees and Dodgers, who are each +400. The Astros’ odds range from +900 to +1400.
The Phillies (1-2) weren’t as impressive as hoped, rising from +2000 at some sites to as high as +3500.
The Nationals lost two of three to the Yankees and Stephen Strasburg already announced his first ailment of the season. That causes the Nats’ odds to rise modestly from +1500 to +2200.