Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve
- The best teams in baseball are the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros.
- Elite teams are often overvalued by casual bettors.
- Fading the best teams in the second half has been a profitable strategy.
The three best teams in baseball at the All-Star break are the Boston Red Sox (68-30), New York Yankees (62-33) and Houston Astros (64-35). The trio are the betting favorites and most likely teams to win the World Series.
Their success has not been lost on Joe Public. A majority of moneyline bets has been placed on the AL threesome in 88% of their games this season and they have been underdogs in only 34 total games. Chasing the chalk has returned a profit of $2,310 for a $100 bettor in 2018.
Betting the best teams and making money is a square’s dream. But the good times won’t last. As more bettors jump on the bandwagon leading to lopsided action, oddsmakers will begin inflating the moneylines for these elite squads. This will provide a great opportunity for contrarian bettors to wager against the league’s best late in the season.
Historically, it has been profitable to bet against teams that have won 60% or more of their games in a season. The MLB second half, starting in July, has provided the most value:
Notice that the win rate for fading elite MLB teams (60% or better winning percentage) is better from March-June, but the units of profit are far smaller. This speaks to the inflated lines bettors will have to lay if they choose to wager on the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros once baseball resumes.
Betting against baseball’s best teams in the second-half of the season improves if we focus on divisional matchups. Increased familiarity with an opponent, like we see in divisional rivalries, can help level the playing field and lead to more competitive games.
In divisional matchups since 2005, fading teams that have won 60% or more of their games has led to a 486-550 (46.9%) record, returning a profit of $8,982 for a $100 bettor according to Bet Labs. Wagering on underdogs in this situation increases our return on investment:
Casual bettors often overrate the league’s top teams. This behavior typically leads to shaded opening lines and one-sided public betting that gives contrarian bettors a profitable avenue to go against the grain.
In the first series after the All-Star break, only one of the elite teams will play a division opponent. Houston will begin the second half in Los Angeles, and the Astros are a team I’ll be looking to fade.
Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros (Friday 10:07 p.m. ET): The Angels and Astros have played six times this season — with Houston being a -154 favorite on average. LA is 3-3 in those games and returned a profit of $117 (19.5% ROI) for a $100 bettor.