At the start of the MLB postseason, we highlighted several key edges to capitalize on when betting the baseball playoffs. This included focusing on underdogs, home dogs, dogs with high totals (8.5 or more) and dogs coming off a win. The idea was pretty simple: The market is flooded with recreational money in October — much more than during the regular season — so capitalizing on public bias and shaded lines makes backing dogs a smart bet.

The data bears it out. (Stats before the Nationals’ 5-4 underdog victory over the Astros.)

According to Bet Labs Sports, underdogs have gone 185-227 (45%) in the first three rounds of the playoffs (wild card, ALDS/NLDS and ALCS/NLCS) since 2005. This is a losing record, but because of the plus-money dog payouts ( 120, 150, 175), they’ve profited 11.26 units. You’re not breaking the bank with playoff dogs, but you are turning a modest and consistent year-to-year profit.

However, we see this trend completely flip when betting the World Series. This is when favorites wake up and strike back.

Simply put, it pays to go chalk during the Fall Classic.

Since 2005, World Series favorites have gone 47-30 (61%). Favorites have won 4.20 units, while dogs have lost -8.03 units. Favorites have turned a profit at home (35-21, 62.5%, 3.56 units) and on the road (12-9, 57.1%, 0.64 units).

Here is how favorites have cashed at different points during the baseball calendar since 2005.

Spring training favorites: 53.7%

Regular-season favorites: 57.5%

World Series favorites: 61%

As you can see, World Series favorites cash at a 7.3% increase compared with spring training and a 3.5% increase compared with the regular season.

The key is focusing on favorites that receive line movement in their favor. Remember, wise guys with an edge move numbers. These are the professional bettors who have a long track record of success and have the respect of the books. When you see a line move 10 cents or more toward a postseason favorite (think -150 to -160 or -170), these teams have gone 26 - 11 (70.3%) with 7.17 units won. This line move means the sharps are in their favor.

It has also been profitable to buy low on contrarian favorites getting less than half the betting tickets in their favor. It’s a relatively small sample and rare occurrence, but these “fade the trendy dog” favorites have gone 16-6 (72.7%, 5.61 units).

Here is a breakdown of how favorites have performed at different moneyline levels during the World Series since 2005.

-125 or less: 14-33 (51.9%), -0.42 units

-125 to -150: 15-8 (65.2%), 3.33 units

-150 to -175: 10-5 (66.7%), 1.13 units

-175 to -200: 5-4 (55.6%), -1.24 units

-200 or more: 3-1 (75%), 0.41 units

As you can see, the sweet spot has been in the -125 to -175 range.

So which team has performed better as a favorite this season? Here is a betting breakdown for the Nationals and the Astros.


Regular-season favorites: 67-43 (60.9%), -2.91 units

Regular-season home favorites: 41-22 (65.1%),

1.18 units

2019 postseason favorites: 5-0 (100%), 3.62 units

2019 postseason home favorites 4-0 (100%),

2.83 units


Regular-season favorites: 105-47 (69.1%), 6.55 units

Regular-season home favorites: 59-20 (74.7%),

7.93 units

2019 postseason favorites: 6-4 (60%), -0.73 units

2019 postseason home favorites: 5-1 (83.3%),

1.59 units

Value-minded, data-driven bettors will be tempted to grab the plus money with whichever team is the dog throughout the series. And some situations may warrant it. But it’s important to remember that the World Series is a different animal. Laying a big negative moneyline price is never fun. But favorites have been a profitable bet in the championship.

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