Believe it or not, the Baltimore Orioles — who previously occupied dead last as a moneymaker for bettors — returned major winning potential ahead of the MLB All-Star break.
The same franchise that labored to a 254-455 record, and finished a combined 191 games behind the American League East powers from 2017-2021, would have won bettors the most money at the break for the Midsummer Classic.
In figures released by Bet Maryland and confirmed by Caesars Sportsbook, a $100-per-game wager on the Orioles (46-46) would have netted a bettor a season-best $1,759 profit. Those numbers put Baltimore in a position to surpass last year’s Detroit Tigers’ record sum of $2,303.
But few capitalized on the potential jackpot.
Sportsbooks escaped major payouts when fans shied away from betting on the O’s, who were 2/1 underdogs.
Baltimore benefited from a 10-game winning streak that ended just before the Midsummer Classic.
The resurgence of Baltimore is aimed at the future with their 2019 and 2022 No. 1 draft selections.
Tipico and Caesars said they avoided taking financial hits on Baltimore because bettors reacted too slowly to the Orioles’ rise, which included a wealth of games when Baltimore was more than 2/1 underdogs.
“Most hop on streaks late and don’t take advantage of the streaks/trends,” Las Vegas SuperBook Vice President Jay Kornegay said. “The O’s were certainly a surprise, but most (missed out).”
Kornegay considered the team’s dismal recent history and added, “Betting on the O’s is not the easiest thing to do.”
Not until now, when Baltimore and its elite relief corps reached the break with an 11-2 surge — including a 10-game winning streak.
And the Orioles could grow stronger thanks to their top farm system, which moved 2019 No. 1 draft pick Adley Rutschman — a switch-hitting catcher — to the big-league roster this season. Coming off a 52-110 season in 2021, the team picked first again in the 2022 draft and landed Jackson Holliday, a high school shortstop who is the son of Matt Holliday.
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At Caesars Sportsbook, lead baseball analyst Eric Biggio said his book has taken some hits from those supporting the Orioles. He also has an eye on what could materialize if the reborn team launches towards a playoff spot. The Orioles were massive future-book underdogs to win the World Series at the start of the season, but their win total of 58 in the preseason climbed dramatically to 76.
“When you combine (the regular-season losses) with (future) tickets coming in at 2,000-1 and 1,000-1 across plenty of books, the Orioles clearly stack up across the board,” Biggio said.
While sportsbooks escaped the Orioles’ recent run mostly unscathed, Tipico spokesperson Sunny Gupta said the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates (39-54) are his book’s biggest liability this season.
He flatly said it’s “because they are (among) the worst teams in the league and produce big payouts whenever they win.”
Don’t bet the stars
The early 14-game losing streak, and dismissal of manager Joe Maddon, made the Los Angeles Angels the biggest first-half disappointment.
Angels’ Shohei Ohtani remains -150 MVP favorite while Mike Trout slipped to 40/1.
Ohtani and Trout’s performances are good for fantasy numbers, but not the Angels’ odds.
The most high-profile first-half disappointment is the Angels, who started the season with two American League MVP front-runners. Ohtani and Trout.
Ohtani is locked in a three-way Cy Young Award race with Houston’s Justin Verlander and Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan. But Ohtani remains a -150 MVP favorite.
Trout dipped to 40/1 in the MVP chase, supplanted by Yankees slugger Aaron Judge at -170. The Angels recently crashed through a 14-game losing streak, firing Maddon and crumbling to 39-53 at the break.
“From the fantasy perspective, you actually don’t want a great player to be on a dominant team — let him get his stats while playing all the time,” FanDuel fantasy insider Austin Swaim said. “We know Ohtani and Trout are top-15 players, but the next guy is way down on the list.”
For active and casual Los Angeles bettors, it’s been a dark several months similar to the disastrous season of the NBA Lakers, who struggled to go 35-47 against point spreads despite the presence of superstars LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.
“You can’t bet based on a team’s stars,” Swaim said. “Look, the most important advice I give to people when it comes to sports betting is to know the lines are set by (oddsmakers) who know the team has incredible players like Trout and Ohtani. But how can that team perform without pitching? Since June 1, they’re the worst.”
Veteran sharp bettor Bill Krackomberger knows better. That’s why he placed a $1,000 bet Thursday on the Angels’ win total finishing under the 75.5 total set by DraftKings.
“Everyone thinks of two players when they think of that team, but they just haven’t jelled and, just like it’s hard for people in LA to bet against their beloved Lakers, their first thought is not to go against Ohtani and Trout too, Krackomberger said. “They’ve been duped by that thinking.”
Other MLB trends:
Krackomberger advised bettors to consider trends, but not dwell on them.
“You know who knows all about the trends?” he said. “The bookmaker who bakes them into the lines. The trend is taxed. And it can be based on absolutely nothing. I’m not focusing on the trend. I’m focusing on the value.”
Most expensive bets:
Caesars reports the last-place Oakland A’s (33-62) and Washington Nationals (31-63) have cost bettors the most. The preseason-favorite Toronto Blue Jays, who came to the break 14 games behind the Yankeesround out the list.
(The Yankees’ 64-30 dominance made their mythical $100 game-by-game bettor a $1,188 profit at the break.)
Downturns and doubts
The biggest nosedive in World Series future odds belongs to the Cincinnati Reds, who went from 16/1 in the offseason to 400/1. The Detroit Tigers also slid from 16/1 to 250/1.
Pretenders to contenders
Conversely, the Seattle Mariners’ 14-game winning streak to close the first half shot them from 80/1 World Series doubts to 20/1 contenders. The favored Yankees improved from 10/1 to +350.
Individual awards odds:
In pursuit of individual awards, Miami Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara (9-4, 1.76 ERA) rose from 40/1 to become the -150 favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award. And St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt rode a torrid June to move from 75/1 at some books to -150 at Tipico in the NL MVP race.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY. MLB’s most dramatic odds changes as second half begins