Betting on baseball during the regular season requires some serious discipline. There are nearly 15 games each day, which can be both a blessing and a curse for bettors. One of the big positives of the 162-game regular season is that bettors can identify trends that translate into betting opportunities. This postseason, like many past postseasons, those trends indicate backing underdogs in the MLB playoffs.
A Little History
Going back to 2005, the underdog won 42.5 percent (15,458-of-20,950) of all MLB regular season games. That number jumps to 44.8 percent, or 210-of-259, in the postseason. Even more interesting is the home underdog. In 119 games since 2005, the home underdog is 61-58. Based upon these numbers alone, bettors can see why backing underdogs can lead to bigger payouts.
The Bounce-Back Theory
The MLB playoffs attract many recreational bettors that incorrectly assume that most playoff series are ones that go “back and forth.” There is a misconception that teams that lose a game will often “bounce back” and simply win the next game. This idea leads to some faulty betting strategies (if you can even call it a strategy).
A serious MLB bettor would be better off backing a team coming off a win than coming off a loss. The numbers prove it. Again going back to 2005, teams that lost the previous game are 172-183 (48.5 percent) in their next game. Teams that won their previous game went on to win 51.1 percent – a record of 179-171 – of the time.
Even more interesting is the underdog coming off a win. While it might be conventional thinking to believe the dog got lucky and is bound to lose, that has not been the case. Underdogs coming off a win have proved a good value going 86-96 (47.3 percent).
Another strategy for the serious MLB playoff bettor is to back postseason underdogs with high totals. The magic number for totals bettors seems to be 8. With a total of 8 or higher in the postseason, the Under is 110-86. The Over is 132-114 when the total is 7.5 or lower.
It’s also worth noting that underdogs in games where the total is 8.5 or higher are 83-89 since 2003. When the total is 8 or less, dogs are 127-170 during the same time frame. In Game 1 of the Cardinals-Braves series, Atlanta was a home underdog and the Total was set at 8.5. The underdog Braves and the Under were winners as a result of the 3-0 Atlanta victory.
Making It Through the Rest of the Postseason
Bettors looking for the most bang for their buck this MLB postseason should do their best to focus on underdogs. More often than not, MLB playoff teams are evenly matched which tends to favor upsets. Remember, more casual bettors will want to get in on the action at this time of year. That works in the underdogs favor as well.
Recreational bettors tend to put their money on favorites. Doing so can lead to artificially inflated lines, which ends up resulting in higher payouts for the more unpopular underdog. This MLB postseason, takes the dogs out to the park and pad that bankroll.