MLB Underdogs Off To Worst Start in 15+ Years

MLB Underdogs Off To Worst Start in 15+ Years article feature image

Michael Owens/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Noda of the Oakland A’s.

If you tend to bet underdogs in Major League Baseball, it's been a brutal start to the season for your wallet.

Through the month of April, MLB underdogs are 161-264 (37.9%) on the moneyline this season. A $100 bettor would be down $5,329 for a -12.5% return on investment.

Using our Bet Labs database, which goes back to 2005, this is the worst start for underdogs through the month of April by a wide margin.

The next closest season where we saw underdogs start slow out of the gate? None other than last season, where MLB dogs started 118-199 (37.2%) and a $100 bettor was down $4,271, with actually an even worse ROI, at -13.5%.

Here is really the statistic that encapsulates how much of an outlier the last two years have been.

Between 2022 and 2023 through the month of April, MLB underdogs went an astounding 279-463 (37.6%) on the moneyline. A $100 bettor would have been down almost $10,000 ($9,600 to be exact).

Underdogs lost by over a full run per game at -1.06.

If we look prior to this stretch, between 2005 and 2021, underdogs went 2,678-3,310 (44.7%) — but given the price tag on each team — a $100 bettor would have been up $10,411 for a +1.7% ROI.

One of the main differences between this season and many of the previous seasons is just the insane amount of big underdogs.

Through April, underdogs of +200 or higher in MLB are 7-32 (17.9%). But the focus should just be on the vast number of games, with 39 in total. That is tied with 2018 for the most games with a +200 or higher underdog through April in Bet Labs. This year, a $100 bettor strictly taking the "big underdogs" would be down $1,675 — more than double the second-worst season in that spot, which was 2013 when big dogs started 3-15 on the moneyline.

Over the last two seasons — 2022 and 2023 — big underdogs (+200 or higher) are 9-43 (17.3%) on the moneyline to open the season, losing by a whopping 3.25 runs per game.

The biggest culprits to that damage over that span? The Athletics (0-9), Royals (0-5), Rockies (0-5) and Reds (0-4) are a combined 0-23 on the moneyline as big dogs to open the last two years.

The main question going forward: Will dogs rebound?

Let's look at the previous three worst starts and how the next five months went.

  • 2022: Started 118-199 (37.2%; -$4,271). Finished 836-1,273-2 (39.6%; -$11,305)
  • 2013: Started 165-228 (42%; -$2,241). Finished 864-1,174 (42.4%; -$3,163)
  • 2018: Started 170-249 (40.6%; -$2,024). Finished 845-1,165 (42%; -$400)
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