MLB Underdogs Off to Worst Betting Start in Over 15 Years

MLB Underdogs Off to Worst Betting Start in Over 15 Years article feature image

Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald. Pictured: Boston Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo.

Baseball season has officially made its way to the month of August. After four months of action, there are a few high-level takeaways anyone analyzing the sport would tend to circle.

For example, if you would have bet $100 on the over in every MLB game so far this season, you would be 706-761-63 (48.1%) and down $11,624.

Dating back to 2005 (the historical database for Bet Labs), only one other season — 2009 — has been less profitable for over bettors through 103 games.

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The other big storyline in the MLB betting world is underdogs. Through July, underdogs are 609-920 (39.8%) on the moneyline, losing a $100 bettor $10,335, a -6.8% return on your investment. At this point in the year, underdogs are having their worst season in the Bet Labs database … by a mile.

Least Profitable Seasons for Moneyline Underdogs (Through 103 Games Since 2005)

  1. 2022: 609-920 (39.8%) | -$10,335
  2. 2010: 632-915 (40.9%) | -$6,354
  3. 2019: 632-920 (40.7%) | -$5,298
  4. 2020: 371-577 (39.1%) | -$4,998

Notice a trend? Over the past four seasons (since 2019) — a sample size of over 7,300 games — underdogs are winning at a rate of 40.2%, losing by 0.93 runs per game. Looking at the data over four-year spans, underdogs have been fading fast.

MLB Underdogs on the Moneyline Since 2011

  • 2019-22: 40.2% win pct (~7,300 games) | -0.93 runs/game | -4.1% ROI
  • 2015-18: 42.1% win pct (~9,800 games) | -0.76 runs/game | -2.3% ROI
  • 2011-14: 42.9% win pct (~9,900 games) | -0.59 runs/game | -2% ROI

So, where is the damage coming from? So far in 2022 the culprit has been coin-flip games.

This season, underdogs with a moneyline price of under +120 are 246-330-1 (42.8%), losing a $100 bettor $7,141 (a -12.2% ROI). Through 103 games, that is by far the worst start to a season for those such teams in Bet Labs.

Excluding the truncated 2020 season, the next closest year for poor sub-+120 teams came in 2007, when they were down only $2,502 at this point.

The one positive trend for underdogs at this point in the calendar is their play of late. In July, the best month for underdogs this season, underdogs finished 162-226-1 (41.9%) on the moneyline with a $100 bettor losing just $224.

In a year where the underdogs have struggled mightily, here are some trends through July:

  • The Orioles are actually 43-48 (47.3%) as underdogs this season, profiting a $100 bettor $1,242. They are the most profitable team in MLB on the moneyline as underdogs.
  • On the other side, the Angels are 9-32 (22%) on the moneyline as underdogs, the worst mark in baseball.
  • The unluckiest pitcher of the year? Joan Adon, who is 0-11 on the moneyline as an underdog this season and 0-12 in his career. That is the most losses without a win as an underdog in the Bet Labs database for any pitcher (over 1,400 starters).
  • The opener has been bad. Underdogs in series openers have gone 181-292 (38.3%) on the moneyline this season and 583-951 (38%) over the past three years. If you are thinking, "that's not so bad." Here's a comparison:

MLB Underdogs in Series Openers on the Moneyline

  • 2020-22: 583-951 (38%) | -$14,471 | -9.4% ROI
  • 2017-19: 978-1350 (42%) | -$1,278 | -0.5% ROI

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