We commence our inaugural 2017 Major League Baseball column with the following tidbit about the Houston Astros, the club that currently boasts the highest winning percentage in all the sport (45-22, .672): Of Houston’s 45 MLB victories so far this season, 37 (82.3 percent) have come by two or more runs.
For baseball bettors, this is an important nugget to consider because more often than not, the price that accompanies the backing of one of the best teams in the sport is just too high to justify the risk. Case in point: Take Tuesday’s Texas-Houston showdown in which Astros righty Brad Peacock closed at the heavy price of -190 before eventually falling 4-2 at home to the Rangers. Had you laid the -1.5 run line with the Astros, at least you wouldn’t have lost $190 for every $100 you attempted to win.
The run line can serve as a very powerful wagering option in the baseball gambler’s arsenal for those intrigued by the concept of backing favorites. The benefit, of course, is the limiting of risk, while the detriment comes in the form of having to win by two or more runs. This type of proposition is not for the faint of heart as it pertains to clubs like the Washington Nationals who, despite a healthy .600 winning percentage entering Thursday’s slate of games, ranks eighth in MLB in blown saves, with 11.
On the flip side, note that American League MVP favorite Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees have seen each of their last ten victories come by two or more runs.
The Major League Baseball run line: Learn it, study it, embrace it.
For those of you who are just now making the transition from NBA wagering to MLB wagering, here are nine factoids to file away as you attempt to grind out a profit during the summer months:
1. It’s no surprise whatsoever to see names like Clayton Kershaw (9-2) and Dallas Keuchel (9-0) atop the Major League Baseball wins column on June 15. But what is surprising is the fact that those aforementioned Cy Young winners are joined by 34-year-old Jason Vargas (9-3) of the dismal 30-34 Kansas City Royals. In his 12 decisions this season, Vargas has closed at an average price of +112 with only two of his nine victories coming as a favorite. Without a shadow of a doubt, Jason Vargas has been one of the best value bets in baseball so far this season.
2. When it comes to betting overs, keep a very close eye on the Mets (37-19-8, .660), Marlins (37-23-4, .616) and Reds (37-24-4, .606), who have all returned substantial profits for their backers in 2017.
3. As it pertains to betting Unders, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the Cleveland Indians (35-25-3, .583). Outside of the Tribe, none of the other 29 clubs have produced a highly favorable under record as of June 15.
4. What a difference a year makes: In San Francisco, Johnny Cueto turned an 18-5 campaign last year into a 5-6 record through the first 2.5 months of the 2017 season compliments of a 4.57 ERA, Cueto’s worst mark since his rookie season in 2008. Meanwhile, teammate Jeff Samardzija, who went 12-11 in 2016, currently leads all of Major League Baseball with 8 losses (2-8, 4.31 ERA). And how about 2016 American League Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, who went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA last season? Funny you should ask because the 28-year-old is currently 3-8 with a 4.67 ERA so far in 2017. Three respectable pitchers in 2016 who have become three fade options less than one full year later.
5. Umpire alert: Home teams are 10-0 when Chad Whitson is behind the dish, 10-3 when Gerry Davis is calling balls and strikes, 10-4 when the honors go to Phil Cuzzi and 9-2 when its Paul Nauert.
6. Umpire alert part II: As it pertains to high scoring totals, 11.73 runs per game have been scored in Manny Gonzalez’s 11 games behind the plate this season (highest in MLB), while 11.58 runs per game have been scored in Sam Holbrook’s 12 contests behind the dish. On the flip side, just 6.77 runs per game are being averaged when Gerry Davis gets the call (13 games) and only 6.80 runs per game when the honors belong to Will Little (10 games).
7. MLB futures: With an MLB-best +114 run differential, give me the New York Yankees at 7/1 and the Houston Astros (+102, second in MLB) at 9/2 to win the World Series this season. With an NL-best run differential of +87, I’ll take the Los Angeles Dodgers at 5/1 to win the Series as well. Granted, I’m not exactly thinking outside the box here, but I feel as if I can get ahead of the market at these prices due to the fact that all three of those aforementioned clubs should be very active come the July trade deadline.
8. Of the Philadelphia Phillies’ last 22 losses, 17 have come by two or more runs. Remember what we said earlier about the MLB run line? Well, the Phillies currently rank 29th in MLB in run differential (-85).
9. Speaking of horrific run differentials, the San Diego Padres (-113, worst in MLB) haven’t lost a game by one run since May 13 against the Chicago White Sox (5-4 in Chicago). For those scoring at home, that means each of San Diego’s last 16 defeats have come by two or more runs.