It might be hard to believe, but we are now a full month into the Major League Baseball season! While it is still too early to predict things like division or pennant championship teams, we have started to see some strong betting trends emerge that you need to take advantage of. For the next several days, we here at TheSportsGeek are going to highlight some of the strongest betting trends so far in 2021 and tell you what you need to do to take advantage of them and make money betting Major League Baseball. Today we will kick things off by taking a look at the top 5 betting underdogs in 2021. Let’s get started!
Top 5 Betting Underdogs
There are a couple of different ways that you can look at underdog betting success. First, you can just look at raw underdog wins. Now, while that is a fair way to look at a team’s ability to win as underdogs, bad teams are underdogs more often, so they are going to get far more opportunities to win as dogs than great teams. The Mariners have a lot more underdog wins than say the Dodgers, because the Dodgers are always betting favorites.
The other way to look at things would be looking at a team’s winning percentage as underdogs. This evens things out, as a team like the Boston Red Sox, who haven’t been underdogs very often, but have done a great job of winning when they have been dogs, get their fair share of the credit. We will use a combination of both methods to give you the top 5 underdog betting teams in 2021!
- Overall Record (17-14)
- Underdog Record (15-12)
- % Of Wins As Underdog (55.6%)
While you can argue back and forth about which is more impressive, having more wins as underdogs in more opportunities, or having a high percentage of wins as underdogs in a small sample size of games, one thing is clear, the Seattle Mariners have been the best underdogs team in baseball so far this year. The M’s have the most wins as underdogs at 15, and their 55.6% winning percentage in those games is one of the best in the Major Leagues as well. Only the Texas Rangers have been underdogs more often than Seattle has, so the Mariners have had lots of opportunities to win games getting juice, and they have taken full advantage of it.
Seattle has been especially impressive as home dogs, as their 8 home dog wins also top MLB. The reason that Seattle is being undervalued so consistently is their lack of starting pitching depth. They lost both of their top starters when Marco Gonzalez and James Paxton went down with major injuries, and they have been forced to run a patchwork 6-man rotation chalked full of no-name players and prospects. But the reason that Seattle has enjoyed so much success on the year, despite their lack of starting pitching, has been their bullpen, as the Seattle relief crew is tied for the second-best ERA in all of baseball, trailing only the New York Yankees and no bullpen has more wins than the Mariners 10 so far this season.
sWeet dreams pic.twitter.com/SY5OLzmuRt
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) May 5, 2021
There is reason to believe that the best has yet to come for Seattle, as last year’s AL Rookie of the Year winner, Kyle Lewis, finally rejoined the team earlier this week after missing the start of the season with an injury, and the M’s third-ranked farm system is likely to produce a couple of Big League blue-chip prospects in the coming weeks in Jared Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, and Julio Rodriguez. Throw in the fact that the starting pitching, which tends to drive a lot of the betting action, isn’t likely to get much better, and you can count on Seattle to get plenty of opportunities to win games as underdogs the rest of the way out and they are going to win more than their fair share.
- Overall Record (17-13)
- Underdog Record (12-6)
- % Of Wins As Underdog (66.7%)
The Milwaukee Brewers have done a great job of both racking up a bunch of wins as underdogs and winning a high percentage of those games as well, and they are the closest team to Seattle when it comes to declaring the best underdog team in 2021. The reason that I bumped them down a notch below the Mariners is that with their starting rotation looking like a group of absolute savages recently and the Brewers starting to string together some wins, I doubt the Brewers are going to be dogs all that often.
Milwaukee has really taken care of business on the road, as they are 8-4 in opposing team’s ballparks when betting underdogs. If the Brewers ever get 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich, back on the roster, they could contend with the likes of the Dodgers, Padres, and Braves at the top of the National League standings. But after missing 3 weeks of action, Yelich played in just 1 game and was immediately shut back down with back tightness. His future is unclear, and that greatly limits the Brewer’s upside.
Great catches, clutch hits and big wins. There was plenty to be excited about during the first month of the season.
Check out April's Top Plays of the Month presented by @UScellular.
Which play do you think was the best? pic.twitter.com/Rk9JIoEdSY
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) May 5, 2021
We already talked about how starting pitching tends to drive a lot of these betting lines, and with guys like Corbin Burnes (2-2 1.52 ERA), Brandon Woodruff (2-0 1.80 ERA), and Freddy Peralta (3-0 2.25 ERA) starting games for the Brew Crew, you can expect to see Milwaukee favored a lot, so they are likely to fall down this list somewhat in the next couple of weeks, really through no fault of their own. May hasn’t started out as well as April ended for Milwaukee, as they are just 1-3 this month, after finishing April by winning 8 of their last 11. The schedule lays out fairly tough in the next couple of weeks, with series against Philly, St. Louis, Atlanta, and the upstart Kansas City Royals on tap. If you can get one of the trio of Milwaukee aces as an underdog, you are going to want to take a very hard look at it.
Boston Red Sox
- Overall Record (18-12)
- Underdog Record (8-3)
- % Of Wins As Underdog (72.7%)
The Boston Red Sox haven’t been underdogs very often this year, but when they have been underdogs, no team in the game has been as good as the Bo Sox. Boston wasn’t expected to be an elite team this season, but after coming out of the gates red-hot, the books have quickly adjusted on Boston, and they have been favored in most of their games in the last several weeks. The Red Sox 5-1 record as road underdogs is the best in the majors, and this Red Sox team isn’t afraid to go on the road and win in hostile environments.
Hands up if you crushed a homer tonight! pic.twitter.com/Jrlat8cBUK
— Red Sox (@RedSox) May 5, 2021
Boston leads the Major Leagues in batting average at a sizzling hot .265, and they lead the American League in runs scored. With the Rays and the Yankees both struggling to stay above water in the AL East Division, Boston has jumped out to a nice lead, and they show no signs of slowing down. Looking ahead on the schedule for Boston, their next 6 games all come against the Tigers and Orioles, and they are going to be favored in most, if not all, of those games, and series against the Angels, Jays, and Phillies tell me that Boston is going to be favored quite a bit through to the end of the month. It’s not going to happen often, but backing Boston as an underdog, specifically as road dogs, has been a very profitable play, and if you get the chance to back the Bo Sox getting some juice, you should jump all over it.
San Francisco Giants
- Overall Record (18-12)
- Underdog Record (8-5)
- % Of Wins As Underdog (61.5%)
A month ago, when the season officially kicked off, had I asked you which team was going to have the best record in the National League right now, you probably would have said the Los Angeles Dodgers, or maybe the Atlanta Braves, or San Diego Padres, maybe even teams like the New York Mets or Philadelphia Phillies. But one team that you wouldn’t have guessed would be leading the league in wins through the season’s first month, would have been the San Francisco Giants. The Giants should be buried behind the Dodgers and the Padres in the crowded NL West Division, yet here they are, with a game and a half lead over both teams and looking like a legit contender.
San Fran has a brutal schedule, as they play the Dodgers, Padres, and DBacks 12 more times this month. No other division in baseball has 4 teams with winning records right now besides the NL West, and with such a loaded division, the Giants are going to get plenty of chances to win as underdogs. Most people will tell you that either the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Trevor Bauer, or the Padres with Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Dinelson Lamet, and Joe Musgrove have the best rotation in the NL. But it’s actually the Giants rotation that has the best team ERA and record at 11-4 in the National League.
ERAs for the @SFGiants' top starters:
1.50 – DeSclafani
1.50 – Wood
1.80 – Cueto
2.14 – Gausman
2.22 – Sanchez
They would join the 1978 A's as the only teams to have 5 starters with a sub-2.50 ERA in the month of April (min. 3 starts) since ERA became an official stat in 1913.
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) April 29, 2021
They aren’t household names like the Kershaw’s and Snell’s of the world, but the Giants rotation of Alex Wood (3-0 1.96 ERA), Kevin Gausman (2-0 2.04 ERA), Johnny Cueto (2-0 1.80 ERA), and Anthony DeSclafani (2-1 2.00 ERA) has been really, really great this season. SF plays the Dodgers 7 times in a stretch of 9 games later this month, and with the Giants streaking and the Dodgers in free fall, having lost 8 of their last 10 games, yet still favored in basically every contest, you are going to find some juicy spots to back the G-Men as underdogs against the Boys in Blue.
- Overall Record (14-16)
- Underdog Record (13-13)
- % Of Wins As Underdog (50.0%)
While each of the teams we have highlighted above all seem to have compelling cases for continued success as underdogs, I am not nearly as confident in the Oriole’s chances of continuing as one of the top underdog teams in the game. We already talked about how well the Boston Red Sox are playing, and with the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bays Rays finally starting to turn their seasons around after slow starts, the Orioles are going to be the punching bag in the AL East and they are destined for a last place finish. That does mean they are going to be underdogs a lot, so they are going to probably end the season with a decent chunk of underdog wins, but that doesn’t mean they won’t still lose 90+ games.
The O’s have been riding the hot bat of Cedric Mullins, who leads MLB in hits, but Mullins is starting to cool down considerably in the last week, as his batting average has dropped from .365 to .319, and the guy was a lifetime .240 hitter before catching fire to start out the season, so regression was bound to happen and it’s hard not to look at his hot start as very fluky. We see this a lot out of bad teams, where they start the season playing well, but don’t have the bodies to hang in contention once the dog days of summer set in. As much as I always like to root for teams like the Orioles to win games, I don’t see a lot of that happening the rest of the way out for Baltimore.
Don’t sleep on @cedmull30, he leads MLB in hits. 👀
— MLB (@MLB) May 4, 2021
The one major exception to that prediction is when John Means is pitching. The books and public have quickly caught on that John Means is a stud on the mound and have priced him aggressively, but if you can get Means with a nice hefty dose of dog money, you are going to want to snatch it up. Means was an All-Star and runner up for the AL Rookie of the Year Award back in 2019, and this year, he has taken his game to another level, as he is 3-0 with a 1.70 ERA in 6 starts for Baltimore. Means has been super stingy on baserunners, as his WHIP is second in the AL, trailing only superstar Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees and ahead of guys like Tyler Glasnow, Walker Buehler, and Aaron Nola. If you can get Means as a dog, take it, if not, pass on backing Baltimore as underdogs, as the losses are going to start piling up as the rest of the AL East inevitably gets their act together.
And there you have it, folks, the top 5 underdogs in Major League Baseball so far in 2021. I expect some of these teams to continue to exceed expectations, most notably the Mariners and the Giants, while other teams are going to regress back towards the mean and start losing games. Thanks for reading, and make sure that you stay tuned to TheSportsGeek’s MLB picks page, where we bring you free daily picks each and every day, delivering all of the value that you need to make money betting Major League Baseball!