MLB Betting Trend, System: Opening Day Has Been Dominated by Favorites

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Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Verlander

  • Opening Day has historically brought betting value to favorites on the moneyline, according to our Bet Labs database.
  • Both the Yankees (in a shortened game) and Dodgers won on Thursday night as favorites, improving the record of our system to 117-51 win an ROI of 15.7%.
  • See the exact qualifications below, and which teams are fitting the bill on Friday's big MLB slate.

Almost four full months removed from what was supposed to be Major League Baseball’s 2020 Opening Day, we finally got a dose of regular-season baseball last night, and Friday brings with it the first true MLB slate of the season.

Obviously, there will be some things missing from today’s opening matchups. There will be no fans in the stands (so no hot dog vendors), no late-March crisp in the air, no pitchers batting in the National League, no licking of the fingers and no manager arguments ( … right).

There will also be a runner on second base to start every extra inning and a three-batter minimum for relief pitchers (unless they reach the end of an inning or get hurt).

All right, so we know things are going to look quite a bit different. What we still don’t really know, though, is how those differences are going to affect gameplay. And I’m not going to even attempt to make a prediction to that end.

I will say this: If you’re of the belief that the play on the field won’t be any different than in years past, you might want to consider betting on some favorites.

MLB Betting System: Favorites on Opening Day

Generally speaking, you’re not going to find many historical baseball betting trends that show significant profits on favorites. They’re usually a bit overpriced (because people will tend to gravitate toward the better team), meaning in the long term, while you might win more bets than you lose, you’ll probably find yourself losing money if you’re laying a heavy dose of minus numbers.

Opening Day, however, has been an exception to that rule — and in a pretty substantial way.

Since 2005 (the first year of our Bet Labs data), and including last night’s games, Opening Day favorites of -120 or more have gone 117-51, winning 26.3 units for a 15.7% return on investment.


Perhaps oddsmakers are a bit hesitant to grant favorites too much of an edge without seeing any actual action, which leads to value being left on the table for bettors to scoop up. But whatever the reason, going with the better team out of the gates has been the profitable move over the course of recent history.

Again, this is an unprecedented year, and things could get weird. But for those expecting a similar product to what we’ve seen over the past 15 Opening Days, here are your betting options:

Thursday

  • Yankees -140 vs. Nationals (W, 4-1, in a shortened game)
  • Dodgers -300 vs. Giants (W, 8-1)

Friday

Odds as of 10:20 a.m. ET.

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