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Home Underdog Theory in the MLB

“Life is never more fun than when you’re the underdog competing against the giants.”

– Ross Perot


Is there anything more exhilarating than wagering on a big underdog and watching them pull off a huge upset? If you are a sports gambling degenerate, like myself, then you know the sensation. You feel like the smartest man alive for a brief moment until you lose your next wager and come crashing back to reality. I know the reality of the sports gambling world, but my goal is to help you by shedding some light on various sports gambling topics. The following research paper is my debut of a series of monthly papers I will be writing where I research sports gambling topics. This paper examines the home underdog theory in Major League Baseball (MLB). 


A favorite, in the sports gambling world, is the team that is projected to win the contest; therefore, an underdog is the team that is projected to lose the contest. The home underdog theory is a sports gambling strategy where a bettor places a wager on the home team when the home team is also the underdog. This strategy is the basis for my research and was tested in the 2021 MLB season. 

Data Collection

I used and Bovada to collect data of any matchups in the first two months of the 2021 MLB season where the home team was also the underdog. The odds of the underdog and the results of the contest were charted. For simplification, a hypothetical one unit wager was placed on every single matchup where the home underdog theory applied. A home underdog loss would result in a negative unit (-1.0 units), while a win would result in the odds divided by 100 multiplied by my unit size (1.0 units). For example, if a (+150) home underdog won then (150/100 x 1.0 = 1.50 units). The units of all the wins and losses were added together to find the success of the home underdog theory. If positive, then the home underdog theory is a successful betting strategy. If negative, then the home underdog theory is a failed betting strategy. Some additional filters were added to examine multiple variations to the home underdog theory. The filters are as follows: 

Are the teams in the same league?

Are the teams in the same division?

The following is the breakdown of the number of samples taken:


      Number of Samples     
All Games


Both Teams in the Same League  


Teams in Opposite Leagues


Teams in Same Division 


Teams not in Same Division



The moment you have all been waiting for the results of the research. The following is the breakdown of the home underdog theory in the first two months of the 2021 MLB season:


     Wins           Losses               Win %                Number of Units        
All Games



48.15% +24.29
Both Teams in the Same League  





Teams in Opposite Leagues





Teams in Same Division 





Teams not in Same Division

64 57 52.89%


As seen above, betting on every single home underdog would have profited +24.29 units. To explain this in dollars, if your unit size is $10/unit then you would have won $242.90. The equation used is as follows:

($ size of your units) x (the number of units won) or ($10 x 24.29 = $242.90.)

This equation can be applied to your personal unit size, in order to calculate what you would have made betting on all home underdogs in the first two months of the 2021 MLB season. 

The category that would not have yielded a profit is only wagering on the home underdog in matchups of teams in the same division (-2.23 units). From the data collected, the best strategy would have been betting only on home underdogs in non-divisional games (+26.52 units). 


The home underdog strategy was proven to be profitable in the first two months of the 2021 MLB season. However, this is a small sample size as a total of 2,430 games are played in the regular season. According to the MLB, there are 187 days in the regular season. The sample data had an average of 4.05 home underdogs per day.  Based on the data collected, I project that over an entire MLB season there would be approximately 757 home underdogs (187 x 4.05 = 757). As a result, only 243 of those 757 (or 32%) of the samples were collected. This is why I would suggest not using the home underdog theory in every situation. However, I do believe that this research has shown that home underdogs are undervalued by a majority of bettors. 


In the small sample size that I collected, the home underdog theory was a profitable betting strategy. As previously stated, I would not recommend betting on every home underdog. Instead, I would use this research as a factor in your decision making process when making a wager. If you like a team to win based on your own personal research and they are also the home underdog, then make the wager. Likewise, you can use this research to avoid betting on road teams that are favorites if you are not 100% confident in them to win. At the end of the day, only you control what wagers you make and you are allowed to interpret my research however you want. I hope you enjoyed this research paper, and I wish you good luck on your sports wagers. 

Author: DJ Loutsch (@djlo4422)

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