A trip to woodshed on baseball betting

By Jason Weingarten  () 

MLB Review

Overall: -$10,886.36 

I lost over $10,000 on baseball bets I wrote about every week. The biggest losses were on both MVPs and AL Rookie of the Year. The most disappointing finish was Alec Bohm getting second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting when a win would have swung the whole portfolio positive. I did win over $30,000 on Trevor Bauer taking the NL Cy Young Award at 55-1, but I made that bet in March and never wrote about it, so those results are not included in the accounting. Also not included is the $2,000 I lost betting on Corey Seager to win NL MVP with Gill Alexander.

During spring training I also bet all the main AL Cy Young contenders above 10-1, essentially creating my own Field vs. Verlander and Cole bet. I ended up with bets on Shane Bieber 16-1, Blake Snell 12-1, Lucas Giolito 25-1, Tyler Glasnow 20-1, Mike Clevinger 20-1, Jose Berrios 40-1, Sean Manaea 100-1, Lance Lynn 100-1 and Frankie Montas 100-1. None of those numbers were available when MLB picked up again in July, so I never wrote about them. 

Seager won the NLCS and World Series MVP. I would have preferred he’d won or at least more seriously contended the regular-season MVP. I cashed a small consolation ticket on Seager for World Series MVP, which barely made up for my regular-season MVP bets.

I looked at all my bets to see what I would have done differently. Maybe I would have bet less on Charlie Blackmon or Mike Trout, and that would have saved me $2,000 in losses. As for the NL rookie race, I don’t think we are going to see a middle reliever win again anytime soon, so I’m just going to chalk up that loss to bad luck. 

NL MVP

$500 to win $10,000 on Bryce Harper

$500 to win $15,000 on Nick Castellanos

$191.36 to win $5,740.80 on Nick Castellanos 

$500 to win $4,000 on Fernando Tatis Jr.

$200 to win $20,000 on Charlie Blackmon

$1,000 to win $18,000 on Charlie Blackmon

$300 to win $12,000 on Juan Soto 

$500 to win $500 on Fernando Tatis Jr. 

-$3,691.36 

I declared Tatis the NL MVP in the beginning of September, and he never came out of his slump after that. I missed badly on this market, but I don't really hate any of these bets in retrospect with the exception of maybe being too exuberant about Blackmon early in the season — but I was still getting 100-1. Soto’s odds were high at 50-1, and I doubt we’ll see anything higher than 10-1 for him in 2021. 

AL MVP

$500 to win $17,500 on Shohei Ohtani

$500 to win $15,000 on Giancarlo Stanton

$200 to win $10,000 on Nelson Cruz

$100 to win $6,000 on Nelson Cruz

$500 to win $3,000 on Aaron Judge

$1,000 to win $2,500 on Mike Trout

$300 to win $12,000 on Shane Bieber

-$3,100

Ohtani might be the worst bet I made all baseball season. He didn’t make it out of the first inning of his first start, virtually eliminating himself on the first day. This was another market I missed on, but my only major regret is taking bad odds (+ 250 and + 600) on Trout and Judge early in the season. Those two tickets combined for almost half my losses. 

NL Cy Young

$200 to win $10,000 on Kyle Hendricks

$100 to win 6,600 on Kyle Hendricks 

$500 to win $11,000 on Dinelson Lamet

-$800 

I bet Hendricks after he pitched a complete game in his first start, though I probably should have been looking more closely at teammate Yu Darvish. Lamet ended up getting fourth place. 

AL Cy Young

$500 to win $20,000 on Frankie Montas

$300 to win $24,000 on Dylan Bundy

$80 to win $12,000 on Liam Hendriks

$200 to win $30,000 on Liam Hendriks

$500 to win $75,000 on Liam Hendriks

-$1,580

I picked off a few numbers on Montas and Bundy, but neither made a serious bid at contending for the Cy Young. Hendriks put up elite numbers as the closer on one of the best teams in the American League, but it didn't really matter. Bieber took the lead in this race early and never faltered. 

NL Rookie of the Year 

$250 to win $15,000 on Alec Bohm

$500 to win $5,500 on Dustin May

$500 to win $27,500 on Spencer Howard 

$500 to win $2,000 on Dustin May

-$1,750

I think this was the market that most disappointed me. Bohm took second behind Brewers middle reliever Devin Williams. I expected Bohm to potentially lose to Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth, not a middle reliever, and it’s unfortunate because this would have been a big swing. The only consolation is that I didn’t end up hedging and betting $1,000 or $2,000 more on Cronenworth at + 200 before the awards announcement last week. I think May deserved more serious consideration as he was the World Series champion Dodgers’ opening-day starter and a mainstay in their rotation. He is worth far more to me than a middle reliever.

It’s disappointing when the losses start piling up, but Bohm was the right play at 60-1 odds. 

AL Rookie of the Year

$500 to win $8,000 on Evan White

$500 to win $12,500 on Nate Pearson

$500 to win $20,000 on Evan White

$500 to win $25,000 on Sean Murphy

$200 to win $10,000 on Yoshitomo Tsutsugo

$500 to win $2,000 on Luis Robert 

-$2,700 

Another total loss. Robert was the guy most likely to win, and he seemed to have the inside track until he stopped hitting for all of September. Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis won the award unanimously. Worse, he was 50-1 early in the season at BetMGM, but it was available only in New Jersey and I couldn’t grab it. I thought a Mariner could win the award, but I thought it would be White. 

My biggest mistake in both rookie markets was overinvesting in starting pitchers. It took only one bad start early in the season to derail the ROY campaigns of guys like Pearson and Howard. Next year I think I’d have to get closer to 100-1 odds if I’m going to bet on a pitcher again. 

Most Home Runs

$500 to win $25,000 on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

$200 to win $20,000 on Luis Robert

$250 to win $13,750 on Yoenis Cespedes

-$950

Guerrero had a bad year. Robert showed some power but not nearly enough to contend. Cespedes quit on the Mets early in the season, and I don’t know what I was thinking there.

Most Hits

$250 to win $5,500 on Ozzie Albies

$250 to win $8,250 on Fernando Tatis Jr.

$250 to win $10,250 on Bo Bichette

-$750 

Albies and Bichette got hurt early and Tatis was up near the top but finished poorly. I probably would not bet this market again.

Most Hits AL Only

$250 to win  $5,000 on Bo Bichette

-$250

Most Strikeouts

$500 to win $3,000 on Max Scherzer 

$250 to win $1,375 on Max Scherzer 

-$750

Most Strikeouts AL Only

$500 to win $5,000 on Lucas Giolito 

-$500

Giolito placed second but couldn’t get close to Bieber.

Most Strikeouts NL Only

$250 to win $16,250 on Chris Paddack

-$250 

Most Wins NL Only

$500 to win $12,500 on Trevor Bauer 

-$500

I thought Bauer might pitch every four days, which would have led to more wins. He didn’t win, but he did win the Cy Young at 55-1 odds. More on that later.

Make/Miss Playoffs

$500 to win $875 on the Cincinnati Reds to make the playoffs 

$500 to win $7,500 on the Seattle Mariners to make the playoffs

$2,500 to win $1,000 on the Boston Red Sox to miss the playoffs

+ $1,375

If I could have bet more on the Red Sox to miss the playoffs, I would have. The Reds needed a late push to make the playoffs and were quickly bounced. The Mariners never really seriously contended, and I probably could have left that bet off and saved myself some money.

Division Futures

$250 to win $687.50 on the Cincinnati Reds to win the NL Central

$500 to win $1,500 on the Washington Nationals to win the NL East

$500 to win $3,750 on the San Diego Padres to win the NL West

$2,100 to win $500 on the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the NL West

$300 to win $360 on the Chicago White Sox to win the AL Central

$1,365 to win $300 on the Chicago Cubs to win the NL Central 

$1,365 to win $300 on the Atlanta Braves to win the NL East

-$450

The Reds and Nationals never contended for division titles, and the Padres looked good early, but I was able to buy out that bet with the Dodgers to win the NL West at just over -400. 

Near the end of the season I caught  BetMGM with some stale numbers and picked off the White Sox, Cubs and Braves futures. The Cubs and Braves came through, but the White Sox didn’t and it netted me only $300. 

Player Props

$575 to win $500 on Mike Trout under 16.5 home runs

$525 to win $500 on Yordan Alvarez over 35.5 RBIs

$575 to win $500 on Anthony Rizzo under 11.5 home runs

$625 to win $500 on Trevor Bauer over 83.5 strikeouts

$600 to win $500 on Trevor Bauer over 4.5 wins

+ $400

Trout hit 17 home runs because he's Trout, and Alvarez played two games before going back on the injured list with injuries to both knees. Rizzo barely stayed under his home run total, while Bauer picked up the slack by going over his strikeout and win prop numbers. 

Playoff Series Prices

$1,550 to win $500 on the Dodgers’ series price vs. Brewers

$500 to win $950 on the Blue Jays’ series price vs. Rays

$525 to win $500 on the A’s series’ price vs. White Sox

$500 to win $625 on the Reds’ series price vs. Braves

$640 to win $500 on the Yankees’ series price vs. Rays

$500 to win $1,000 on the Dodgers’ series price vs. Braves

+ $360

World Series bets

$500 to win $3,875 on Dodgers to win World Series

$500 to win $4,000 on Mookie Betts World Series MVP

$500 to win $6,000 on Corey Seager World Series MVP

+ $5000

NFL

MVP (DraftKings numbers)

Patrick Mahomes + 180

Russell Wilson + 225

Aaron Rodgers + 300

Kyler Murray + 700

Mahomes: He has 16 touchdowns and one interception. The Chiefs are 8-1 and could potentially finish 14-2 or 13-3. Going to be hard for anyone to jump Mahomes if the Chiefs win 13 or 14 games. 

Wilson: Has lost back-to-back games and three of four. Thursday night vs. the Cardinals and Murray is critical for Wilson to get back on track. A loss here will effectively end his MVP campaign. The Seahawks have an easy schedule after the Cardinals, with games vs. the Eagles, Giants, Jets and Washington. If the Seahawks win Thursday night, Wilson will have ample opportunity to pad his stats against bad teams.

Rodgers: The Packers are 7-2, with their best win coming against the Saints and worst loss coming against the Bucs. Rodgers has looked great against weak teams like the 49ers and Jaguars, but that doesn't make up for his poor performance in a blowout against the Bucs. 

Murray: I bet Murray's MVP odds at 44-1 when the DeAndre Hopkins trade was announced. Murray’s performance and game-winning Hail Mary pass last week against the Bills dropped his odds from the 20s to 7-1, and the Cardinals are in a three-way tie with the Rams and Seahawks for the NL West lead at 6-3.

Murray has 604 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns to go with 2,375 passing yards and 17 passing touchdowns. It’s not impossible that Murray will have over 5,000 combined passing and rushing yards. In his 23-year-old season he is on pace for 4,222 passing yards with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, plus 1,073 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. That would be 5,295 combined yards and 48 touchdowns. If Mahomes doesn’t win 14 games and Murray reaches those numbers, he will have a serious case for MVP. The Cardinals have back-to-back road games coming up against the Seahawks and Patriots followed by a home game against the Rams. Murray’s MVP case will sink or swim over the next three games. 

Offensive Rookie of the Year (DraftKings numbers)

Justin Herbert + 125

Joe Burrow + 150

Tua Tagovailoa + 400

Justin Jefferson + 1400

James Robinson + 2200

Tee Higgins + 3300

Chase Claypool + 3300

Claypool: Nine touchdowns in nine games. But also has a game with negative yards and nine, 13 and 10 targets the last three weeks. I don’t think I’d bet any wide receiver at less than 50-1.

Higgins: I’d probably make Higgins 100-1 since he’s catching passes from Burrow, who’s ahead of him on the list. 

Robinson: Ranks first in rushing yards, first in receptions and first in receiving yards among all undrafted free-agent running backs through their first eight NFL games. But he’s competing against first-round picks and he’s on a bad team, so he’s not going to win. 

Jefferson: PFF has graded Jefferson as a top-3 wide receiver, and through eight games he had more receptions and yards than Randy Moss in his rookie year. But Moss had six touchdowns to Jefferson’s three, and Jefferson is on a bad team. I’d need 50-1 to bet Jefferson to win.

Tagovailoa: He is 3-0 as an NFL starter with wins over the Rams, Cardinals and Chargers. He has thrown for 93, 248 and 169 yards in his three starts, but he has three wins and the Dolphins are 6-3 and looking at a playoff spot. Tagovailoa has thrown five touchdown passes and no interceptions. If wins are the most important stat, he is making a serious case for the award. 

Burrow: I think Burrow is a bit overrated and maybe should even flip spots with Tagovailoa. Burrow’s stats are a function of volume. He is likely to pass Andrew Luck’s all-time rookie passing yardage record, but it will be because he’s throwing 40 or 50 times a game. Which doesn’t mean he’s having a bad season, but I think Tagovailoa and Herbert will have better cases when all is said and done.

Herbert: Still the favorite despite having only one win in seven starts. Herbert is eighth in the NFL in touchdown passes with 19. His three rushing touchdowns don't hurt either. He’s likely to surpass 30 passing touchdowns this season, beating the rookie record of 27. A win over the Jets this weekend would really help Herbert solidify his case.

Recap

No new NFL bets this week. I’m going to see how the Seahawks-Cardinals game plays out before I make any more MVP bets. All the NFL bets I’ve made are listed below. I have a total of $5,250 in NFL futures.

MVP

$250 to win $750 on Patrick Mahomes

$500 to win $2,750 on Patrick Mahomes 

$500 to win $1,250 on Patrick Mahomes 

$300 to win $30,000 on Derrick Henry

I’ve bet Mahomes to win the MVP three times and have a total of $1,250 bet on him to win $4,750. My $300 bet at 100-1 on Henry is basically dead already. 

Offensive Rookie of the Year

$1,000 to win $15,000 on Justin Herbert

$500 to win $1,375 on Joe Burrow

$500 to win $3,500 on Justin Herbert

$200 to win $5,000 on Chase Claypool

$250 to win $2,750 on Clyde Edwards-Helaire

$250 to win $3,500 on Tua Tagovailoa

I bet Herbert when he was still 15-1 and again at 7-1. I have smaller bets on Tagovailoa and Burrow that would give me a small win or cut my losses. Claypool has has nine touchdowns in nine games, and the only ticket that doesn’t really have any shot is my $250 on Edwards-Helaire. 

Defensive Player of the Year 

$500 to win $4,250 on Myles Garrett

$500 to win $1,500 on Aaron Donald

Two of the top three contenders are competing for first-place votes with T.J. Watt, who’s one of the defensive leaders of the 9-0 Steelers.

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