On the wins markets, three teams in the Central divisions stood out with heavy public support of the over side. The Chicago White Sox, a popular pick for rising success this season, have all the money coming in on them finishing over 31.5 wins. The White Sox are also garnering 4.88% of the total bet count at BetMGM and 4.77% of the total handle. Chicago pitcher Lucas Giolito is also one of the top picks to win the AL Cy Young, along with 2009 recipient Zack Greinke, now with the Astros.
Rivals of the White Sox, the Kansas City Royals, have seen the public unanimously back their over as well, moving the number from 23.5 to 24.5, effectively suggesting the rebuilding franchise will finish at .500.
On the National League side, Cincinnati – another darkhorse favorite – has earned a lot of support to overperform this season. The Reds have 95 percent of their handle to win over 32.5 games at BetMGM.
Bettors must be mindful of new MLB format
The MLB season will be 60 games long and now includes a 16-team playoff, the largest in league history, and the first appearance of such a format in outdoor leagues since the strike-shortened NFL season in 1982.
The shorter season means there’s more urgency with each game versus the traditional five-month marathon and less margin for error. BetMGM’s US Head of Sports Trading David Main notes that coronavirus has also shortened preparation time and has made potential playing-time-lost from a positive diagnosis extra detrimental.
“The fact that there has been little preparation like full-on spring training, alongside with tighter schedules and not many rest days, plus fears that if a key player has a positive test they could miss two weeks, is impacting MLB betting activity,” Main said. “Over a regular season two weeks out is manageable, however in a COVID-19 schedule that means they would effectively miss around 20% of the whole season.”
Since the offseason and the boatload of money offered to pitcher Gerrit Cole, the New York Yankees have been the favorite out of the American League and a top pick to win the World Series. On the BetMGM markets, the team has 12.4 percent of the bets, the most of any team. Their 13.08 percent of handle is second to the LA Dodgers, who have just under 20 percent of volume. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton is also the top public pick among AL MVPs.
The numbers provided by BetMGM came hours before the owners and players agreed to the expanded MLB playoffs. However, Main thinks things could get tough for the Bronx Bombers.
“The Yankees – for example – get only four days in August without a game, and only two days off in September, and they have a stretch from the 4th through the 27th of September where they play 23 games in 24 days, a 10-game stretch, then one day off before a 14-game stretch,” Main said. “Both of those stretches include playing [at] the Blue Jays, so with them now looking like they’ll be playing in Florida – then traveling back straight after and playing a home series with no rest day – it’s going to take its toll.”