Now that we have officially hit the halfway point of the Major League Baseball season, the timing is perfect to take a look back at the first half of the year and evaluate how well teams performed in relation to the betting market. Earlier this week, we broke down the five teams that had outperformed the betting market in the first half of the season, if you haven’t gotten a chance to check it out yet, it can be found here.
Today, we are going to look at the other end of the spectrum and break down five teams that have underperformed the betting market in 2020. These are teams that we all expected to win a bunch of games this season, and have been favored regularly, but haven’t played well. Let’s get started!
Los Angeles Angels (10-22)
When you talk about teams that have disappointed this season, that conversation is always going to start with the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels made a huge splash in the offseason when they snatched playoff hero Anthony Rendon away from the World Series Champion, Washington Nationals. The Halos gave Rendon a heap of cash, $245 million to be exact, to bolt Washington and head out west.
The Angels saw their lineup of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Shohei Ohtani, and Justin Upton as one of the best in baseball, and the betting market valued them highly, as their season win total over/under of 32.5 was one of the highest in the American League.
Nobody seemed to care that the Angels had no semblance whatsoever of a starting rotation or bullpen, and that outside of the top of their lineup, they had some major holes. Well, I cared, as you can see here in my pre-season AL West betting guide, when I smashed the Angels, but nobody else seemed to think their lack of pitching was a major concern. The Angels were selling stock in a dynasty in Hollywood, and the public was screaming buy, buy, buy.
Since 2015, every MLB team has had at least one pitcher represent them in an All Star Game except for…the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels are the *only* team in baseball to not have a single All Star pitcher.
Oh hey, maybe it’s not Mike Trout’s fault his team can’t win. 🤷 pic.twitter.com/4d9RHq6e3E
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) August 25, 2020
The 2020 season can only be seen as an unmitigated disaster for the Angels. Ohtani started twice and was dreadfully bad, and manager Joe Maddon quickly made the decision to shut him down on the mound for the year. In a combined two starts, Ohtani pitched just 1.2 innings and got blasted for seven runs, all earned, on three hits and eight walks. That is good for an ERA of 37.80! And this was supposed to be their best pitcher!
Even this heavy-hitting lineup that was supposed to carry them to the promised land has been bad, as they are hitting just .233 as a team, which is 22nd in the game. They have managed to hit quite a few home runs, but with an on-base percentage of just .319, 20th in MLB, they aren’t getting guys on base, and solo shot home runs just aren’t going to be enough to win you games.
Mike Trout, AKA, the best player in baseball, is hitting just .255. Ohtani has been even worse, as he is hitting .183, and Justin Upton might be the worst hitter in baseball right now, as he is slashing just .099!
No team has more losses as a favorite this season than the Angels. The Angels have been favored in fifteen games already this year, nearly half of all of their games, and they are just 5-10 in those games. If you ever see LA favored on the road, you need to get on the other side, as the Halos are just 2-7 as road favorites in 2020. For the Angels to hit the over on their win total, they would need to finish the year by winning twenty-three of their last twenty-eight games, yeah, that’s not happening.
Washington Nationals (11-17)
The World Series hangover is real for the Washington Nationals. Despite losing Rendon in the offseason, the Nats kept much of the core of talent that won them their first world title in franchise history last season, and many people expected them to compete for the National League East Division title this year.
The pre-season expectations were high for Washington, as you actually had to lay odds on them making the playoffs at -120, and that was the line before the expanded postseason was announced. Washington was priced at +250 to win the NL East, which put them as the second favorites in the division, priced just below the favorites, the Atlanta Braves, who were +215. The win total for Washington was 33.5, one of the highest in the National League.
But the Nats just haven’t been able to keep their best guys on the field long enough this season to win games. Stephen Strasburg has been shut down for the year, Juan Soto missed time, Sean Doolittle missed time, and Starlin Castro played just sixteen games before getting hurt and he will miss the rest of the year. I’m not trying to make excuses for Washington, but the team that is on the field right now looks almost nothing like the team that won the World Series last season.
JUST IN: Stephen Strasburg has been placed on the 60-day IL and will have surgery on his right wrist, per Davey Martinez. pic.twitter.com/wqAxgyM6h1
— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) August 22, 2020
The Nationals are buried in last place in their division, and their .393 winning percentage is tied for second-worst in the NL, better than only the Pittsburgh Pirates. We just talked about the Los Angeles Angels having the most losses this year as betting favorites, but in fact, they are actually tied with the Nationals, with both teams having ten losses as favorites this year.
All told, Washington is 8-10 as a betting favorite this year. Strangely enough, the Nationals problems are almost exclusively at home, as they are 4-1 as road favorites, but an almost imaginably bad 3-8 as home favorites.
The Nats .273 home-field winning percentage when favored is by far the worst in baseball. Maybe this is the books leaning on home-field advantage too much without fans in attendance? Whatever the case may be, you wanna fade the Nats at home if they are laying wood.
Cincinnati Reds (11-17)
I am not going to lie; I was high on the Cincinnati Reds coming into this season. I loved their starting rotation with Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, and Luis Castillo, and their lineup was expected to be strong as well, as they added free agents Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas, as well as Japanese import Shogo Akiyama, to go along with heavy-hitting incumbents like Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto.
The National League Central was expected to be super competitive, and the Reds were priced right in the mix with the likes of the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals, with no teams sticking out as the clear favorite. It was any team’s race to win, and the Reds were hoping to take home their first division title since 2012.
It hasn’t been all bad for the Reds as Bauer and Gray are both pitching as well as expected, but several key pieces just haven’t worked out for Cincinnati, and wins have been hard to come by. Luis Castillo hasn’t been quite as bad as his 0-4 record might lead you to believe, but he certainly hasn’t been the guy the Reds were hoping he was going to be coming into this season. Castillo has elite strikeout numbers with 45 K’s in 32.1 innings worked, but he has also allowed nineteen total runs, thirteen of them earned, which has led the Reds to a 1-5 record in his six starts.
Luis Castillo’s peripheral statistics reveal that he’s pitched much better than his 0-4 record and 4.18 ERA might suggest on the surface.@mrLeCure understands how frustrating that can be for a pitcher.#TakeTheCentral pic.twitter.com/Wom292sNZZ
— FOX Sports Cincinnati (@FOXSportsCincy) August 26, 2020
As for Eugenio Suarez, who finished second in the National League last year with 49 home runs? This guy couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat right now. Suarez is hitting just .158 with only five home runs in 111 at-bats. His slugging percentage has dropped a whopping 236 points from last season! Akiyama? After coming into the season hyped up as the next Ichiro, he is struggling to even stay in the lineup and is hitting a scant .214 with zero homers in 78 at-bats.
The Reds have played much of their season as the betting favorite. Cincy has been favored in nineteen of their twenty-eight games, which means over two-thirds of the time, you are having to lay wood to back the Reds. And while their 10-9 record as favorites isn’t all that bad, I guess, their nine losses as favorites, are the second-most in baseball.
Arizona Diamondbacks (13-19)
The betting market was split on the Arizona Diamondbacks coming into the season. Bettors just didn’t have a consensus opinion on how they were going to perform this year. The DBacks had improved their win total in three straight seasons, and if they managed to do that for a fourth straight year (at least on a winning percentage basis, with the shortened season) that was going to put them near the top of the NL West standings.
The DBacks went out and snatched away former World Series hero Madison Bumgarner, from their NL West rival San Francisco Giants, in the offseason, and with Robbie Ray, and promising youngsters like Zack Gallen and Merrill Kelly, they were expected to have a sneaky good starting rotation. Arizona was picked to finish third in the NL West, but that was more of a testament to just how good the Dodgers and Padres were expected to be, than any condemnation on the DBacks talent level.
And while the betting market couldn’t fully agree on if the DBacks were going to contend with the Dodgers and Padres, at the top of the division, nobody expected Arizona to be a last-place team, yet here they are. Arizona has fallen victim to a brutal schedule that has seen them play series against the Dodgers, Padres, Astros, Rockies, and Athletics, all teams with winning records right now.
But even when Arizona gets the rare chance to play as a favorite, they just can’t seem to win games. The DBacks have just two wins all year as betting favorite, in seven attempts. That .286 winning percentage as a favorite, is the third lowest in all of baseball, better than only the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, who have combined, only been favorites in five total games.
The DBacks are currently mired in an eight-game losing streak, and at 9.5 games back of the Dodgers, are already completely out of the NL West Division title conversation. But the wild card should be wide open in the NL, and Arizona is currently just two and a half games back of the cut line for the final postseason spot.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) July 6, 2020
When you look forward on the schedule for Arizona, they have a lot of tough games on the immediate horizon, as they play the Giants in their next series, a team that has beaten them in all three games they have played in 2020. After the G-Men, Arizona has a series against the Dodgers, who have beaten them in three out of their four games and have baseball’s best record.
What’s next after these two series? Another four games with San Francisco and three more with the Dodgers. I told everyone coming into this season that strength of schedule was going to be a real thing in MLB this year, and right now, the DBacks are getting the worst of it, and I can only expect their struggles to continue. Is this a playoff team in the NL Central or the NL East? Maybe. But they play out west, and right now they just can’t hang.
Texas Rangers (11-19)
This was supposed to be the year the Texas Rangers got their act together for another deep postseason run. Texas loaded up in the offseason when they brought in former multi-time Cy Young Award winner Cory Kluber, to go with Lance Lynn and Mike Minor, both guys that finished in the top ten of last year’s AL Cy Young Award voting.
They also added veteran arms like Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles, and former super prospect Kolby Allard was going to finally get a shot at pitching every fifth day at age twenty-two, after being a first-round draft pick back in 2015.
Most expected the Rangers to have the most improved pitching staff in the American League, and with a lineup that featured a bunch of veteran sluggers like Joey Gallo, Elvis Andrus, and Todd Frazier, this team looked very talented on paper.
The Rangers win total was 28.5, but similar to the Arizona Diamondbacks, that was mostly because everyone was so high on the Astros, Athletics, and Angels in the AL West. The Rangers were absolutely a dark horse candidate to make the playoffs and do damage once they got there.
But the Rangers just haven’t been able to take care of business on the field. They lost Kluber for the year after one inning, and Mike Minor has been terrible with an 0-5 record and an ERA of almost seven runs. Gibson and Lyles have been even worse, as they are a combined 2-6 with Gibson’s ERA at 5.73 and Lyles at 9.25. Kolby Allard? Yeah, it looks like he isn’t quite ready for prime time yet, as he is 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA.
MLB Insider @JonHeyman
Gives Odds On The Rangers Chances Of Trading Lance Lynn and Mike Minor –>https://t.co/Z3ARA6lt6l
— 105.3 The FAN (@1053thefan) August 25, 2020
That heavy-hitting offense full of veterans? They are currently the weakest hitting team in the game. The Rangers are 29th in batting average and on-base percentage, 28th in runs scored and home runs, and dead last in slugging percentage. And remember, several teams have played far fewer games than Texas, with games getting canceled and postponed regularly and the fact that they still have scored fewer runs and hit fewer homers than many of those teams, is shocking.
The Rangers have been favored quite often this year as they have had twelve games where they were the betting favorite. But they have a losing record as favorites, with just five wins in twelve games. Is it fair that the Rangers don’t get to play bad teams like the Tigers, Royals, and Red Sox in the American League this year? Maybe, maybe not.
But it is what it is, and the tough schedule will continue for Texas as they have upcoming series with the Dodgers, Astros, and Athletics. Don’t expect the Rangers to be favored very often, and if their 6-12 record as underdogs is any indication on to how they are going to play the rest of the way out against the strong competition, you can expect a lot more losing for Texas.
The 2020 Major League Baseball season has been a historic one with lots of unexpected things happening. Bad teams like the Orioles and Marlins are winning a bunch of games, and good teams like the Nationals and Reds are struggling.
The books are constantly adjusting their opinions on teams, and you need to remain a step ahead of them if you want to keep making money betting on baseball. Thanks for reading and make sure that you stay tuned to The Sports Geek all season long as we bring you free betting picks each and every day, giving you all the sharp betting advice that you need to make money betting on Major League Baseball in 2020!