After six straight losing seasons, the Los Angeles Angels gave their backers reason for optimism this year with a 27-17 start.
But then LA lost 14 straight and 33 of its next 45 to cement its place as one of the biggest losers for baseball bettors this season.
Despite playing for the fallen Angels, two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani on Thursday supplanted New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge as the betting favorite to win the American League MVP award.
Before Wednesday’s start against the Astros, Ohtani was the +110 second choice at the Westgate SuperBook behind Judge, who was the even-money favorite and leads the majors in home runs with 30 while batting .279 with 65 RBIs.
But after Ohtani held Houston to one run in six innings with 12 strikeouts and hit a two-run triple in the Angels’ 7-1 win, the Westgate SuperBook made him a -175 favorite to repeat as MVP while moving Judge to the +120 second choice.
“If Ohtani continues to pitch like this in the second half, I can’t see how he doesn’t win,” Westgate baseball oddsmaker Randy Blum said. “He pitched well last year, but this year he has been on a little bit of a different level.”
Entering Thursday, Ohtani was 9-4 with a 2.38 ERA and batting .258 with 19 homers and 56 RBIs. The right-hander has won his last six starts, allowing only two earned runs and 20 hits in 39⅔ innings with 58 strikeouts and 11 walks.
“Obviously the argument for MVP is that Judge can’t pitch versus the Angels look like they won’t make the playoffs. But I don’t think team records are a factor as much anymore for MVP,” Caesars Sportsbook lead baseball trader Eric Biggio said. “It’s a tough one, because there’s also the school of thought that no one can hit and pitch like Ohtani, so he should win MVP every year. It’s an interesting debate.”
Ohtani is still +125 at William Hill and Judge is +165 at BetMGM.
Books also have slashed Ohtani’s odds to win the AL Cy Young Award during his dominant stretch. Caesars has dropped him from 40-1 on June 22 to the +650 third choice behind Shane McClanahan, the 2-1 favorite, and Justin Verlander, the 3-1 second pick.
The Angels (39-50) have been the second-biggest loser for bettors. According to covers.com, a $100 bettor would be down $1,776, or -17.7 units, if they wagered on LA in every one of its games this season.
The Washington Nationals are the biggest losers (-$1,813) and the Oakland Athletics (-$1,753) and Chicago Cubs (-$1,272) also have hemorrhaged cash.
Orioles take flight
While the Yankees lead the majors in wins (62-26), they’re only the No. 2 team when it comes to winning money (+$1,170). The streaking Baltimore Orioles are the most profitable team, earning $1,656 for their true believers.
Baltimore, which has averaged 51 wins in its last three full seasons and had a season win total as low as 55½ this year, has won 10 straight games to climb above the .500 mark at 45-44.
A bettor who wagered $100 on the Orioles on the first game of their win streak and rolled it over would be up $59,993. But it might be a good time to cash out with series against the Tampa Bay Rays and Yankees on deck before the All-Star break.
Baltimore was as high as 2,000-1 to win the World Series at Caesars, where a bettor in Maryland wagered $200 to win $400,000 on the Orioles. Baltimore was still 1,000-1 last week but has seen its odds dwindle to 200-1 to win it all.
“The talent is finally maturing and the bullpen has been amazing,” Sportsline.com analyst Micah Roberts said.
Rounding out the five biggest winners are the New York Mets (+$1,105), Astros (+$1,039) and Seattle Mariners (+$518), who also ran their win streak to 10 games Wednesday.
Roberts recommends riding streaks whenever a team has won or lost three straight.
“And betting against the Angels when Ohtani doesn’t pitch,” he said. “That’s been golden every day.”
Indeed. During LA’s current 12-19 stretch, Ohtani has gone 6-0 with a 0.45 ERA while the Angels have gone 6-19 in games not started by him.
“It’s one of the more puzzling things I’ve seen,” said Roberts (@MicahRoberts7). “Mike Trout and Ohtani are two of the top three players in the league and the Angels are just bad.
”Even when Trout and Ohtani hit a homer, they still lose.”