April is often full of surprises in Major League Baseball.
Put your hands up if you saw the Rockies and Diamondbacks being the top two teams in the National League West through the first month of the season. Or if you projected the Blue Jays being the worst team in MLB as the calendar prepares to flip to May.
Surprises aren’t just limited to the standings. Some interesting trends can emerge in April that you can ride to the betting window until the bookies adjust.
Here’s a look at baseball’s five hottest Over bets so far in 2017, and our take on whether those teams will continue to cash tickets for Over bettors.
1. Milwaukee Brewers (15-8 Over-Under)
The Brewers are second in the National League Central through 23 games, and their offense is the big reason why. Milwaukee currently leads all of baseball with 40 home runs, is second in OPS (.793), and ranks third in both runs per game (5.22) and stolen bases (21).
When you combine that potent attack with a middle-of-the-road pitching staff (the Brewers’ team ERA of 3.96 ranks 13th in MLB) and a defense that is kicking the ball around (Milwaukee’s 20 errors are the second-most in baseball, behind only the St. Louis Cardinals), you’ve got yourself the perfect ingredients for an Over bet.
The Brewers have gone Over the total in nine of their last 10 games. And it’s not like they’re just squeaking Over the total, either. Of those last nine Overs, five of them cashed by three runs or more.
Is Milwaukee’s Over trend sustainable? Likely not at this pace, and oddsmakers are sure to adjust. But as long as Eric Thames keeps knocking the ball out of the yard at a ridiculous rate (11 homers in his first 73 at-bats), looking to bet Overs in Brewers games look like a good idea – especially at home, where they’re 10-4 to the Over this season.
2. New York Mets (12-6)
When you think New York Mets, you probably think pitching first.
After all, New York’s starting rotation is headed by a trio of Cy Young candidates (Noah Syndegaard, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey all paid 25:1 or less on Bovada’s pre-season Cy Young odds), and the Mets staff ranked third in the National League in ERA and fourth in strikeouts last year.
That public perception leads to low totals. And that’s probably the best way to explain why the Mets are one of MLB’s best Over bets this year despite a mediocre offense (29th in batting average, 27th in OPS and 29th in stolen bases) and a respectable team ERA (3.86) that ranks 10th in the big leagues.
Only one of New York’s first 20 games had a total of 9 or higher, and nine of them have had Over/Unders of 7 or less. In other words, it’s a low bar to clear when you bet the Mets Over the total.
It’s hard to project the Mets to continue being one of MLB’s best Over bets in 2017. They don’t exactly have an explosive offense, and their starting pitching is capable of dominating once they get dialed in. However, with totals in Mets games continuing to be low (their last five games have had Over/Unders of 7 or lower), you may want to keep looking in that direction for now.
3. Miami Marlins (11-6)
Like the Mets, the Marlins are perceived as a team that routinely plays a lot of low-scoring games. But unlike New York, that perception is due to a consistent lack of offense.
Miami ranked near the bottom of the National League last year in runs (13th out of 15), home runs (14th) and walks (14th). A lot of that had to do with the struggles of Giancarlo Stanton, who was held to a .239 average and 27 home runs in limited action.
Stanton looks a lot more like his former self this year, though, belting seven homers and driving in 15 runs in his first 19 games. And outfielder Marcell Ozuna has emerged to blast six bombs and collect 21 RBI in his first 19 outings. As a team, the Marlins rank fifth in MLB with a .260 batting average, though they’re 10th in runs scored and 14th in home runs.
Defensively, Miami is 16th in runs allowed per game, 11th in WHIP and has committed the fourth-fewest errors in the league. Clearly, it’s an improved offense that has caused the Marlins to be a pronounced Over team this season. And oddsmakers have been slow to adjust, posting totals under 9 for all but one of Miami’s games this year.
4. Detroit Tigers (12-7)
It doesn’t take long to figure out why the Tigers have been such a strong Over bet in 2017.
Detroit’s offense is fifth in MLB in runs scored per game (5.15), fourth in OPS and eighth in home runs. Meanwhile, the Tigers pitching has been absolutely putrid, ranking 30th in baseball in both team ERA (5.72) and WHIP (1.57). Combine a lethal offense with a brutal pitching staff, and it’s actually a bit surprising the Tigers haven’t gone Over in more of their games.
Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll see the biggest reason Detroit’s been a hot Over bet: their perennially-bad bullpen. Tigers relievers rank dead last in MLB with a 6.78 ERA, undoing some decent work by their starting staff that ranks eighth in MLB with 11 quality starts (when a starter goes six-plus innings and allows three earned runs or less.)
Going forward, it may make more sense to bet Tigers Over on the in-game betting odds, once their starting pitchers come out of the game and those gas cans come in from the bullpen.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (14-9)
The Rays have played the fifth-highest percentage of Overs this year, going Over the total in 14 of 23 games.
Don’t expect this trend to last, however. Tampa is in the middle of the pack in many offensive categories (14th in runs per game, 13th in average and 11th in homers, OPS and stolen bases), while their team ERA is eighth-best in baseball at 3.69.
The Rays’ Overs are more likely a simple case of short-term variance. Six of their 14 Overs snuck over the total by one run or less, including a 5-4 loss Wednesday in Baltimore when the teams combined for three runs in extra innings to barely eclipse the Over 8.5.
Tampa was 14th in the American League last year in both runs and on-base percentage, and dead last in batting average. There’s not much reason to think their offense will be that much better this year, and the Rays should regress back to a strong Under candidate as the season moves along.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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