Tom Gable, Director of Race & Sports at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, provides our readers with insider tips and strategies for making the most of their sports betting ventures. This month, Tom focuses on future wagers during a shorter baseball season.
What would summer be without baseball? Luckily, we don’t have to worry about that anymore! After pausing spring training in March due to COVID-19, and additionally for months of often contentious negotiations between the team owners and players union, Major League Baseball finally returned on July 23.
This season will look like no other in history. Teams will only play 60 games as opposed to the normal 162 game season. There will be no fans in attendance at games and unlike the NBA and NHL, the league will not play in a “bubble”. Teams will play in their home ballparks (with the exception of the Toronto Blue Jays), which means players will be staying in their own homes. It didn’t take long for this plan to go astray, as the Miami Marlins had numerous players test positive for coronavirus after their first series of the season. The team postponed games for a week after that. The Marlins aren’t the only team to have the virus throw the league’s schedule into disarray. So what should sports bettors make of all the chaos?
Let’s take a look at a few betting angles that this quirky season presents for bettors.
First, let’s focus on future wagers. There is definitely value this year in betting on non-favorites to win the division, or even the pennant. Through the course of a 162 game season, teams often go through long stretches of playing really well or playing poorly. Over 162 games, those stretches will even out with the top teams eventually playing like top teams. But in only 60 games, any team can catch fire for a stretch of time and end up with the best record in their division. (Ex. Look at how the eventual World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals, started last season. They were atrocious and in a 60 game season, would have had no chance to make the playoffs.) We’ve seen teams that are typically thought of as being 1-2 years away from being playoff contenders, such as the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds, being heavily wagered on due to attractive odds offered by the sportsbooks.
Also, the MLB’s structured schedule is important to consider. Teams will only be playing other teams in their division and in their opposite league division, in order to cut down on travel and possible exposure to the virus. For instance, the National League East will only play teams in their own division and in the American League East. Coming into the season, there are a number of good teams in the NL East. If they are constantly playing one another and then also have to play teams like the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, the likelihood of a team coming out of the NL East with a great record is unlikely. If there ever was a time to take some long shots on future wagers, this is the season!