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Don't Be Mad If You Lose Bets

MLB Betting: Don't Be Mad if You Lose Bets

By Loot, MLB Handicapper,

When betting on MLB, we need to recalibrate our expectations when it comes to winning and losing. In other sports, where there are really huge favorites and underdogs, we can be rightfully shocked when certain results come down the pike. When the Lakers beat the Warriors or the Patriots lose at home to the Titans, it's legitimately surprising. In Major League Baseball, there is rarely a time when we have a right to be terribly surprised at anything that happens.

Let's look at the situation. There are 162 games. That's a massive amount of games. When a non-fan asks how many games teams play in a season, they think you're pulling their leg when you tell them the answer is 162. With spring training and then the postseason, a team is playing over 200 games per season. That's almost twice as many games as any other league in American professional sports.

With so many games, there is going to be some deviance from the mean. You can't expect to see the same product on the field day after day. When we consider the best teams usually lose about 60 games per season and the worst ones win about the same amount--we see the results are really all over the place. We need to really wrap our minds around the facts here: the best drop 60 games and the worst win 60. Tell someone on the street who has no clue about baseball that a team won 60 games and they'd say that sounds like a heck of a team.

Then we also have to deal with the fact that teams are not the same team everyday. Pitching is half the battle and each day, a new one graces the mound. Imagine a football team that had a rotation of five quarterbacks or a basketball squad with a rotisserie of five point-guards. Those sports wouldn't be as easy to handicap, would they? Well, in baseball that's the reality of it.

Then to top all that off, these teams are being jettisoned all over the country in what is an agonizingly-long and grueling season. You have the grind of spring training, then the long months of the regular season, many of which have scorching weather. City to city. Game after game. It's enough to make anyone's head spin. Sure, they're professionals and are more adept at handling it than the average Joe. That doesn't mean there won't be peaks and valleys throughout the season. As bettors, how are we going to really know when a team might just be really down in the game we are about to bet? Sure, there are signs, but a lot of the time, we won't really know until we see it.

All the above factors contribute to vast fluctuation. A team can look completely different from one game to the next. Sure, teams are trying to win every night. but how much urgency can you expect from even the best teams when everyone on the team knows they can blow it 60 times a year and still come out smelling like roses?


In the NFL, for example, a team knows it can only lose a small handful of times if it wants to have a chance at the championship. In basketball, teams have a little more leash, but to get an all-important good playoff-seed, they can't afford to blow too many. In baseball, a team that has playoff hopes has to be on a really bad run before alarm bells really start going off in their heads. There is just a lot of margin for error in MLB.

As bettors, understanding the mental landscape is a major consideration. Just because we have a bet riding on a game doesn't make it more important to anyone besides us. If we are betting on, say, a Cincinnati Reds-Milwaukee Brewers game in early-May, we need to understand the mindset of the teams. Of course, they're looking to win. At the same time, there's a long summer ahead. While one game might make a difference later, neither team is approaching this game as if it's make-or-break. While we try to handicap the game and consider different things that might give us an edge, we can't be too surprised at the result, whichever way it goes.

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