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Handicapping 2011 Surprise MLB Teams – Doc’s Sports

Surprise MLB Teams Good for the Book

Not many people expected Cleveland to be one of the best teams in baseball. Nor did many think Arizona would be neck and neck with the World Series champs. They didn’t believe Seattle had much of a chance either.

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And they especially didn’t foresee Pittsburgh flirting with .500.

But all four of those teams have failed to live up (or down) to their preseason expectations. The Indians are first in the AL Central, the Diamondbacks are challenging the Giants in the NL West, and the Mariners are within spitting distance of the Rangers in the AL West.

As for the Pirates, well, the Pirates probably won’t end up atop the NL Central, but they’ve already won half the number of games they won last year, and it’s only the beginning of June. This past weekend, Pittsburgh took two of three from the Phillies and were underdogs in all three of games.

It’s almost always good news for Bodog when supposedly bad teams – especially those from lower-profile markets (i.e. not New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles) – exceed expectations. Generally speaking, recreational bettors tend to wager on the favorites, and when those recreational bettors are from a big market, there are more of them to make bets against underdogs. (Let’s just say you don’t get many Yankees fans putting their money on the Diamondbacks.)

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This is also why you see teams that are expected to be competitive lose big money for bettors when the team underperforms. Take the Chicago Cubs, a club with one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball. The Cubs are one of the most popular sides in baseball, even though they haven’t won the World Series since 1907. (Perhaps that’s why they’re so popular. Sports fans can be weird.)

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The Cubs are also one of the worst teams in baseball this season. Chicago’s record is well below .500, an embarrassing mark to be sure.

Just ask Carlos Zambrano, who had a few things to get off his chest after the Cubs were swept by the Cardinals over the weekend.

“We played like a Triple-A team,” said Zambrano. “This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team, for the owners. Embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassing. That’s the word here for this team.”

But here’s the thing. It’s not like we have to make the Cubs huge underdogs every game because we know they still have a loyal following that will bet on them regardless of their record.

Remember that not everyone bets on a team because they think it’s the smartest way to make money. A lot of bettors see it as a way of showing their support. There’s also something to be said for cheering on your side while at the same time having money riding on the outcome.

I will be posting weekly articles about betting previews, matchups and the inside scoop from a bookmaker’s point of view at Doc’s Sports.

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