Betting trends established early in baseball season

Let’s see, through May 10, the San Diego Padres had the third-best record in the National League, the Washington Nationals were four games over .500 and two games out of first place, and the Toronto Blue Jays were four games over .500 thanks to a 12-5 road record. All three teams were picked by most experts to finish last in their respective divisions.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox (17-16), Angels (15-19) and Cubs (14-19) were a combined total of 16 games out of first place in their respective divisions.

To quote the great Slim Pickens, what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here?

I’ll tell you what’s going on: Unless you do business in the Bronx, money doesn’t automatically buy happiness in baseball, and right now, several payroll bottom-feeders are getting more bang for their bucks than the big spenders.

How does this translate to the wagering world? Well, through the season’s first five weeks, three of the top five moneymakers for bettors were the Nationals (first), Blue Jays (third) and Padres (fifth). Meanwhile, the Red Sox (22nd), Angels (23rd) and Cubs (29th) all were in the bottom 10.

Will things change as the summer progresses? To a certain extent, absolutely. But keep in mind that Colorado, Texas and Florida were thought to be flukes last year, and they ended up finishing 22, 12 and 12 games over .500, respectively, and were second, third and ninth on the money list. Meanwhile, the Mets and Diamondbacks were pegged as playoff contenders, yet each finished 70-92.

So what can we expect on the diamond going forward? Here are five bits of betting advice in the coming weeks (with my bankroll sitting idle at $5,255):

  1. So long as the price/matchups are right, keep riding teams such as San Diego, Texas, Toronto, San Francisco and Minnesota (all of whom have underrated starting pitching, quality bullpens and balanced lineups.
  2. Stay away from the Red Sox until they put together a strong 10-day stretch.
  3. Fade overrated clubs such as the Angels, Cubs, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Mariners as big favorites or small underdogs (they’re all flawed).
  4. Start looking for opportunities to back the Astros (10-21) and Orioles (9-23) at nice underdog prices (neither will continue to play this bad).
  5. Continue to look for spots to play the red-hot Rays and Yankees on the run line (meaning to win by at least two runs). That’s because each of New York’s first 21 victories and 18 of Tampa Bay’s first 22 wins were by multiple runs.

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