Over/Under Extremes Leveling Off



Earlier this season we had several "extremes" records in terms of Over/Unders for Major League Baseball teams. Scoring was much lower than expected in the first couple of months, leading to some squads skewing way Under. A few were higher scoring than expected, leading to a handful of Over teams.

Heading into the July 4th weekend, things had moved significantly toward evening out. Why?

  • Better lines! Oddsmakers finally got the numbers down to where they needed to be in the post-steroid era, particularly in the best pitcher's parks. You're seeing numbers in the 7's and even 6's with the best pitchers. That wasn't happening back in April. It's much more common now.
  • Higher scoring! The weather warmed up, and so did the bats. I think many pitchers got a bit tired too because they were throwing more innings than normal early in the season. It all led to a slew of Overs. So, many of the teams that had been shading Under moved back toward even.
  • Regression to the mean. No exclamation point there. Most extremes in all forms of gambling tend to do that. You had to figure that the extreme rush of Unders we were seeing early on would balance themselves out.

Here are the few teams still showing extreme (more than a 10-game differential) tendencies right now:

St. Louis 30-49 to the Under
The Cards are much more of a "pitching and defense" team than the market seems to realize. They're 11 games toward the Under at home, and 8 on the road, so this Under tendency is showing up everywhere. They do play at home in a pitcher's park, which may account for the slight differential there. Slugger Matt Holliday was in a prolonged slump too, which kept the team from lighting up the scoreboard no matter how good Albert Pujols was. I really like this pitching staff, and will look Under when the aces are on the mound.

Washington 32-49 to the Under:
Most of this is at home this year, where the Nationals have struggled to score but have posted great pitching numbers. The new ballpark was supposed to be better for pitchers than the old confines. This season it hasn't been, making Livan Hernandez look like Juan Marichal! The weather has warmed up in DC recently, but that hasn't helped scoring. Given the paucity of offensive weapons on this team, I'll keep looking Under until the pitcher's get tired. 

Chicago Cubs 32-47 to the Under
It's funny, games have flown Over at Wrigley Field when the wind has been blowing out. So, the Cubbies are an EXTREME Under team when not playing in those conditions. The offense has just reeked this season, with all the high priced guys performing way below expectations. The pitching rotation is a good one, even with Carlos Zambrano keeping himself out of the mix with bad conditioning and bad behavior. You've seen some very low scores in Wrigley this week when the wind was blowing in. Oddsmakers have been slow to react here because the Cubs always seem to have a reputation of "all hit-no pitch" no matter what's actually happening on the field.

Arizona 48-31 to the Over
Only one team is extreme to the Over this year, and that's the Diamondbacks. They play in a high scoring home park, and have a disappointing pitching staff that gives up runs everywhere. They just fired the manager and GM because their team-building has left a lot to be desired lately. This is a team that's befuddled oddsmakers for a few years now. The guys behind the line always rank them as a contender, then the D-backs limp to a 70-win season and everyone wonders what happened. Maybe the new braintrust will have more success. I've learned over the years that teams often change their tendencies after a managerial switch...so I'll be watching the D-backs closely this weekend.

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