Sevransky: Four reasons why I love betting MLB totals
Covers Expert Ted Sevransky is all about betting MLB totals. Here are his six reason's why you should be too:
You don’t have to lay big prices
Charlie Morton was arguably the worst starting pitcher last year. The Pirates went 2-15 in games that Morton started and his 7.57 ERA was no fluke. The linesmakers aren’t idiots by any stretch of the imagination – the Pirates were a substantial underdog just about every time Morton took the mound, so betting against him would require the side bettor to lay a big price. But you didn’t have to lay more than -110 or -115 betting Morton Over the total in those starts and you would have cashed in repeatedly by doing so.
Similarly, the linesmakers consistently install high prices on the favorite when the A-list starters take the hill. Why lay a big price to support Roy Halladay of the Phillies or Felix Hernandez of the Mariners when you can bet the Under at -110, assuming much less risk with the same potential reward?
Books don’t have much wiggle room
Baseball totals generally range between a low of 7 and a high of 11.5, with the occasional 6.5 or 12. Even when two hot-hitting teams face two mediocre starters, the total is not going to come to 14.
Similarly, when two cold-hitting teams face two dominant starters, the total is not going to come lined at 5. It’s very difficult for the linesmakers to compensate enough within the limited confines of the standard range of totals. The books don’t hesitate to price a dominant favorite at -300 or higher, but they don’t have that same ability to adjust when setting totals.
The books are not as confident
Each sportsbook sets limits on the amount that can be bet on any particular wager. The casual bettor rarely runs into the sportsbook limits, normally several thousand dollars or more on side wagers. But the bookmakers do not set high limits like that for baseball totals, and many sportsbooks are reluctant to take wagers above $500 or $1,000.
Part of the reason stems from the issues noted above, in terms of wiggle room. Part of the reason is that the books get very little square money on MLB totals – they’re up against the professional bettors. And you don’t remain a professional bettor for very long unless you are beating the bookmaker with relative consistency.
That means that the books don’t get balanced action on the majority of baseball totals that they hang. But as much as anything, the low limits on totals are for one reason alone: The linesmakers aren’t confident that they can withstand high-stakes wagers from informed bettors.
Streaks don’t get noticed
When any baseball team wins eight straight games, they’ll be catapulted to the lead story on ESPN and noted by bettors and linesmakers rather quickly. The hot team might have been priced as a -140 favorite in their first game of the streak, but with the same two pitchers on the mound following eight straight wins, they would be much closer to being a -200 favorite, because of the added public money backing that club.
But the general public doesn’t notice over/under streaks. No pundit in the country could tell you that the Arizona Diamondbacks were the single strongest Over team in baseball in 2010, nor could any TV talking head tell you that the Baltimore Orioles were the No. 1 Under team in baseball last year.