Profitable First-Half MLB Teams: Is That Success Sustainable?

Boston is Actually Winning Too Frequently

What makes a team profitable to bet on? It is not simply success, but unexpected success. I’m going to introduce the term “outplaying your line”:

A team that averages even money lines must win over 50% of their games to profit. A team that averages -150 lines must win over 60%, and so on. If you only meet expectations, you will roughly break even. You must beat them. It is for this reason that losing teams can be profitable picks while winning teams can drain your bankroll.

The most profitable team to bet on thus far in the season has been the Boston Red Sox. Setting the league on fire with a 70-31 record, the Sox have made $100/game bettors a cool $2,458. All of these wins are skyrocketing Boston’s lines, making them increasingly difficult to outplay.

Boston Red SoxThrough the first three months of the season, the Red Sox average line was -159.5. In July, that average line has jumped to -196.1, due to the team’s torrid pace. At this line, the break even point is 66.2%. The Red Sox are currently winning at a 69.3% rate, but this level of success is extremely difficult to maintain.

With 61 games remaining, the Red Sox are on pace to win an astounding 112 games. Only three teams in history have ever won this many, so it is highly unlikely the pace will continue. Let’s take a look at recent history to suggest a realistic win total for this team:

This decade, the best team in the MLB at the end of each season has averaged 99.9 wins. If we project the Sox to win 100, it would mean they win 49.2% of their remaining games. Let’s say the Red Sox beat this and set the new highest win total of the decade with 105. This would require the team to finish at a 57.4% rate. Even then, the Sox would not be close to outplaying their -196.1 line, and would lose bettors lots of money down the stretch.

It’s simple. The Red Sox have won too much and have blown up their line. It is extremely difficult to consistently profit when you lay -200 each bet. I’m not saying they cannot still be profitable, but beware of the excellence it will require for them to do so.

The Best of the Rest

Let’s take a quick look at the #2-5 most profitable teams in 2018 thus far:

Team – Record – Profit ($100/game bets)
#2 – Oakland A’s 57-43 $1,936
#3 – Seattle Mariners 60-40 $1,607
#4 – Atlanta Braves 53-43 $1,211
#5 – Philadelphia Phillies 55-43 $1,045

Oakland really entices me. Playing in a tough AL West division, their 57-43 record is only good for third place. Don’t let the standings fool you, this team is hot. Despite tearing it up in July, the A’s average line this month has been +127.5, an incredible value. This has made Oakland the most profitable team to bet in July. I believe that Oakland deserves bets, especially if they continue to be underdogs.

Likewise, the Braves have received an average line of +111.3 in July. You should jump all over teams with a winning record that continue to be pegged as underdogs. Atlanta has been especially profitable on games inside their own division this season, playing to a 29-15 record and a whopping 30.9% ROI.

Remember to stay smart. Don’t chase huge lines and don’t think that a team will be profitable just because they are winning. Do your research, and always be on the lookout for value.

All statistics courtesy of SDQL on and accurate as of 12:00 AM 7/23/2018

The Author

Kreighton Rahn

Kreighton Rahn

Kreighton Rahn is a contributing writer for Rahn, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in writing at the University of Michigan, is a former sports betting content writer for the now defunct OGSports. Kreighton has a love of both sports and mathematics, and he is a dedicated sports fan as well as an avid sports bettor. His favorite sports to follow and bet are MLB, NFL, NBA, and men's college football and basketball.

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