MLB Handicapping: For a Third Straight Season, Big Chalk Continues to Rule
Last year around this time, I wrote an article discussing a recent phenomenon that was taking place in MLB: Big favorites had become the best bet on the planet. After yesterday’s Houston-Baltimore game in which the Astros closed as -430 road chalk and lost — a day removed from winning 23-2 — it was a good time to revisit the aforementioned big favs trend. Bettors, simply put, it’s still kicking all sorts of money making ass.
MLB Moneyline Favorites of -200 or more
2014: 99-27 +39.9 units
2015: 115-42 +20.1 units
2016: 198-86 +1.2 units
2017: 229-71 +62.8 units
2018: 337-108 +81.9 units
2019: *214-66 +57.7 units
Total: 1192-400 +263.6 (7.0% ROI)
*Record as of 8/11
The first question is why is this continuing the occur at such a ridiculous rate? There’s probably multiple reasons. For example, the league appears to be more defined in terms of who is “good” and “bad.” Organizations are much more open to rebuilding, accumulating assets, playing younger talent, and dumping aging players with questionable contracts. But the biggest factor in my opinion comes down to the stigma of betting big favorites. A sizable chunk of the market simply doesn’t want to partake in risking -250 to win a unit. In fact, the main attraction to lopsided matchups for a lot of bettors is to risk the opposite; 1 unit to win 2.5. It’s amazing that we have a two and a half year, 1,000-game sample size and the market clearly hasn’t made any adjustment. If sportsbooks were getting beat by these big favorites on a daily basis they would have no other course of action but to jack up the prices even higher. Eventually, there will be a correction and given how markets tend to work when there is such an extreme, the correction could come fast and hard. But it’s anyone’s guess as to when it will occur. I thought for sure it would regress this season and yet it’s on pace to match last year’s ridiculous +81.9 units.