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MLB Underdogs Off to a Bad Start in 2022

June 21, 2022
Padres are the best team being a favorite

On June 14, MLB betting favorites won 13 of 16 games. It’s surprising if you know anything about underdog trends in baseball history. Typically, underdogs win well over 40 percent of the time in MLB. That has not been the case this year. 

Through June 14, MLB underdogs were winning at just a 39 percent clip. That would be the worst season for MLB dogs since 2005. Over the past week, underdogs did gain some ground and have now won 400 of 1,000 games, or 40 percent. That number is still historically bad.

If we take games through June 14, a $100 bettor wagering on every single MLB underdog would have returned -9.4 percent. They would be down $8,680. If this were to continue, this would be the worst season since 2005 for MLB underdogs. The only other season where underdogs won fewer than 40 percent of games was the COVID-shortened 2020 season. 

Besides that season, the worst for MLB underdogs since 2005 was the 2019 season. Dogs won 40 percent of games that year and returned -3.7 percent. The 2015 season saw dogs win 42 percent of games and return 3.8 percent. 

 

Betting Favorites

The only time betting favorites have been profitable since 2005 was in the COVID-shortened season of 2020. With only 60 games, favorites were able to return 0.4 percent. It wasn’t much, but a $100 bettor would have been up $395 for the season.

Six teams are crushing it as betting favorites this season. The Yankees have the best record in the majors and are 46-16 as a favorite. Five other teams have at least 30 wins as a betting favorite – Toronto, Houston, Milwaukee, the New York Mets, and the Dodgers. 

 

2022 MLB Underdogs

Miami is 15-10 as underdogs

Miami is 15-10 as underdogs

By far the best of the MLB underdogs this season is San Diego. They have been the underdog in 23 games thus far and sport a 14-9 SU record. They are one of just two teams that have played the role of underdog more than five times and have winning records. The other team is Miami which is 15-10 as a dog.

The Yankees are 4-1 and the Dodgers are 1-0, but both teams are typically the betting favorite. In betting underdogs, if a bettor would have been on the Padres in those 23 games so far they would be up over $600 if they had bet $100 a game. 

 

Why Dogs Have Been So Bad

KC Royals struggle

The Royals have already fired their hitting coach this season.

While this year’s historic start for underdogs may correct itself through the rest of the season, it really boils down to a couple horrible teams. Kansas City is 18-36 as an underdog with a -33.7 percent return. Oakland is right there with them with an identical 18-36 mark and Washington is 19-42. If you add up those three teams, they are 55-114 as underdogs for a winning percentage of just 32.5 percent. 

Four other teams – Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Colorado – all have at least 30 losses as an underdog. The Chicago Cubs (18-29) have 29. Combining these seven teams, we find that they account for nearly two-thirds of the -$8,680 returned by underdogs this season. The talent gap between the best in MLB and the worst is significant, but it has been in other years as well.

 

What to Do?

The 2022 MLB season is only about 38 percent completed thus far. Overreacting is probably the last thing MLB bettors should do. In just one week, underdogs gained a full percentage point now winning at a 40 percent clip. Don’t forget, division opponents play each other 19 times per season. That familiarity gives advantages to underdogs, especially when they play on the road. 

Plus, underdogs will continue to surprise some of the better teams in MLB. Cleveland just took two of three games from the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium Earlier in June; the Dodgers dropped three straight games at home to the Pirates. Don’t forget underdogs on the run line either. Currently, road MLB underdogs are 370-260 (58.7%) against the spread.