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Here are some Predictions for the 2019 Season.
1. The Baltimore Orioles are more profitable than the Boston Red Sox.
Woahhh! Coming hot out of the gates with a blistering take.
Last year, the Orioles were an absolute trash heap. The Red Sox won the World Series. They were on the very two extreme ends of the spectrum when it came to possible results for a team in a single season.
At 108-54, the Sox had the best record in baseball and won 18.6 units. Seems kind of low for 108 wins, but since they’re such a popular team and frequently command the large majority of bets (they received 70+% in 81 games, less than 50% 17 times), books are going to shade their lines. Same goes for the Yankees and Astros, who were both actually unprofitable despite winning 100 and 103 games, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Orioles won just 47 games and broke the record for most unprofitable team we have on file dating back to 2005 at -51.9 units …
They received more than half of moneyline bets just 21 times all year and were at 30% or below 83 times. Understandably, nobody wanted to bet on them.
As far as public betting trends go, expect more of the same this year.
The Red Sox will not win 108 games this year. Probably not 100, either. If they end up around their win total of 94.5 or below it, they’ll probably end up a handful of units in the red. Maybe even more than that, something the 91-win Indians experienced last year when they were down nearly 20 units.
The Orioles won’t lose 115 games again. They just won’t. Obviously they’re bad, but if they win 60ish games, oftentimes with beefy payouts of +200 or higher, they’ll be close to a break-even team. For example, the Marlins were down only a handful of units despite winning 63 games last year. If the Orioles somehow manage to push for 70 wins, they could actually be very profitable.
2. Unders continue to hit thanks to shifts, openers and strikeouts.
Baseball has entered a strange era. Baseball teams and players are getting smarter, which has led to new strategies that are actually pretty darn effective. Most hitters get shifted to at least some degree, and as we saw with Bryce Harper this spring, teams are starting to get even more extreme. The Rays successfully utilized their “opener” strategy last year and it appears more teams will begin using it, too. This should also bode well for unders.
Over the past four years, unders have steadily been hitting at a higher rate. This may surprise some considering ding-dongs are being jacked at a steroid-era rate, but more of these homers are coming with fewer men on base. The shifts and league-record strikeout rate last year caused a league-wide batting average of just .248 — the lowest since 1972. The strikeout record has been broken every year in a row since 2008. Launch angle or bust, baby! I have no reason to believe this will stop, and since most bettors like taking overs, I imagine the oddsmakers don’t have much incentive to actively combat this trend.
3. The Twins win the AL Central.
At +400, this is something that you should risk some cash on. Not exactly happy when we saw that Fangraphs’ projections equate to their real odds being closer to +800, but oh well.
The Indians have front-end pitching in the front and back end of their rotation, but have a fairly bad lineup compared to what they’ve had in years past. Their bullpen could also be a weakness, especially if Brad Hand’s performance slips at all.
The Twins lack front-end pitching, but have a very potent lineup that can put up some crooked numbers vs. some of the crappy AL Central staffs.
For this to happen, the Twins would probably need to push for 90 wins, about five more than their win total of 84, while the Indians would need to fall a couple games short of their win total of 91. Not too bold if you break it down like that.
4. The Reds are the most profitable team in baseball.
Woahhh another flaming hot take. Last year, the 67-win Reds were nearly 15 units in the red. I have to admit I am quite a fan of them this year, though.
With a few big additions, Cincinnati could be a winning team in 2019. They’ll often be underdogs against division opponents like the Cubs, Cards and Brewers, and don’t have big name pitchers that would make them hefty favorites against anyone except maybe the Marlins.
It would probably take ~85 wins for this prediction to come true, but that’s why it’s bold!
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