[Note: I am tweeting my baseball gambling picks every day from @obscuresports99 on Twitter. As of this writing, I am +14.4 betting units on the season, although I have been predictably lackluster since making my picks public.]
Gambling on baseball is a bit different from gambling on football. In football, betting is usually discussed based on point spreads: if I bet the Giants +3.5 in the Super Bowl against the Patriots, then that means that the winner for gambling purposes is determined by adding 3.5 points to the Giants final score and seeing who has more points.
Every year, there are some surprises - a team doing better than they were expected to. In gambling circles, you'll hear about a team's ATS, or against the spread, record. If I team goes 11-5 ATS, that means that betting on them all year was a winning proposition. Since Vegas doesn't like when you have winning propositions, they want every team to finish 8-8 ATS, meaning that they make money.
In baseball, we have to talk about surprising teams a little differently because we bet the moneyline. Today, for example, the Yankees moneyline to beat the Royals is -210. That means that, to win $1.00 on the Yankees, you have to risk $2.10. Conversely, the Royals are +185. Risking $1.00 on the Royals will win you $1.85.
To talk about the surprising teams to bet on in baseball, we'll talk about what I'm calling their bet on and bet off value (real gamblers may have a word for this, but I don't know what it is). Bet on value is defined as the amount of money you would win if you bet on a team every game. Bet off value is defined as the amount of money you would win if you bet against a team every game. First, here are the top 5 bet on teams so far this year.
1. Baltimore (+1082)
2. NY Mets (+961)
3. LA Dodgers (+858)
4. Oakland (+699)
5. Tampa Bay (+505)
What do these teams have in common? In the case of Baltimore and the Mets, they were supposed to stink but have surprised everybody this year by contending in their divisions. Baltimore especially has exceeded expectations, leading the competitive AL East. This is also true of Oakland, who are only .500 but were supposed to be much worse. The Dodgers and Tampa Bay were expected to be good, but not necessarily this good. The Dodgers, in particular, sport the best record in baseball. In other words, making this list isn't necessarily just formerly bad teams being good. It's more a matter of expectations vs. reality. I was personally surprised to not see Washington on this list. They were bad last year, and good this year. But because that was widely expected, Vegas has them more accurately priced.
Here are the top 5 bet off teams:
1. Colorado (+1392)
2. LA Angels (+883)
3. NY Yankees (+765)
4. Philadelphia (+622)
5. Milwaukee (+546)
Oof. I especially feel the pain of Philadelphia, since I have personally overvalued them this year (even though the Yankees are my team, I have actually had positive outcomes wagering on them if gambling were legal). The Angels are obviously a direct result of expectations vs. reality of Albert Pujols in particular. They were supposed to be a juggernaut, but instead sit in last place in their division, 6 games below .500.
If you are curious, here are the top 5 teams I have made money on this year if gambling were legal:
1. Kansas City (by a country mile, I might add)
2. NY Mets
3. NY Yankees
And here are the 5 that have given me the most heartburn
1. Philadelphia (and again, not even close to #2)
5. San Diego