This Week in Betting History: Levale Speigner Stuns Johan Santana at +395
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Levale Speigner.
- On June 9, 2007, a little-known pitcher by the name of Levale Speigner and the Nationals (+395) beat Johan Santana and the Twins (-435).
- The win marks the largest MLB upset we've ever recorded via our Bet Labs data.
Jimmy Levale Speigner was born in Thomasville, Ga. in 1980 to Arnie Speigner, a metal worker, and Beth Speigner (née Adams), an elementary school teacher.
I’m kidding. I have absolutely no idea what his parents’ names are or their professions … I’m not sure anyone does. Levale Speigner is more myth than he is reality. It’s possible that he was conceived via midi-chlorians if we’re being honest.
What I do know is that old Mr. Speigner here is responsible for the largest MLB upset we’ve ever recorded in Bet Labs, and it happened on June 9, 2007.
The Twins opened as -340 favorites with reigning Cy Young winner Johan Santana taking the hill at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (RIP).
Neither the Twins nor Nationals had winning records at the time, but the Twinkies were coming off a 96-win campaign and were starting arguably the best pitcher in the game at the time.
The Nats, on the other hand, were rolling out Speigs. This fella had made four starts on the season in addition to 12 relief appearances. The relief work was, meh, with an ERA in the low fours. His four starts, on the other hand, were not as good.
- 14.1 innings pitched, 23 earned runs, eight strikeouts, 30 hits, seven walks
That 14.44 ERA as a starter certainly didn’t convince many folks to bet on him and the Nationals, as just 26% of bettors took the bait. As a result, the Twins rose from -340 to -435 with the Nats settling in at +395 — the second-largest moneyline we have on file dating back to 2005.
But then something miraculous happened … Levale threw a gem!
His Wikipedia literally says so, “On June 9, facing two-time Cy Young award winner Johan Santana, Speigner threw a gem, six innings, two hits, and one run, earning a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.”
And although professors will try to convince you that Wikipedia is full of lies and deceit and are not an acceptable academic resource, it was right in this instance.
Speigner limited a lineup that featured reigning AL MVP Justin Morneau, future AL MVP Joe Mauer and the ever-scrappy Luis Castillo to just a couple of hits and one run.
Ryan Zimmerman, who was in just his second full season, hit a three-run bomb off Santana in the third inning. As everyone knows, once you give Levale a few runs to work with, it’s game over.
With the 3-1 win, the Nats gave bettors nearly four units of profit on one play.
Levale, Levale likes his money
He makes a lot they say
Spends his days counting
In a garage by the motorway
There’s been only one opportunity since then to break the record upset, and the Braves, who were +425 against Clayton Kershaw back in 2016, failed to score one measly run.
If you do see a huge underdog in the future, it may be worth taking a shot. Dogs of +350 or higher have gone 5-7 for more than 11 units worth of profit.
That game would be the high-water mark of Speigner’s career. He pitched just two more MLB games that season and allowed nine runs in 5.1 innings. In 2008, he’d pitch eight innings and allow 10 earned runs … yeah, he wasn’t very good.
There are 2,047 pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched since 2000 and Speigner’s 9.19 ERA ranks 2,044th.
Today, Levale lives with his family in Opelika, Ala. selling life insurance. If you live in the area, I’d suggest doing business with him. If you’re not in the area, perhaps buy an autographed baseball card of his for the low, low price of $2.59.