We're already more than three weeks into the MLB season, and though it's a relatively small sample size, there's enough to find some early value if you dig into the data. That's what we're here for.
Here are some early MLB betting trends to know after the first three weeks:
Does home-field advantage matter in baseball? Entering Thursday, home teams were a mere 133-130 straight-up, good for a 50.6% winning percentage. That would be the worst record across a full season since the data was first available in 2004, and almost a full five percentage points worse than last year's mark (55%) in the shortened season.
Still, this isn't entirely unexpected. Home teams have historically struggled early in the year, winning fewer than 52% of their games in April in seven of the previous nine full seasons. In fact, home teams were a mere 147-146 (50.2%) through the first 22 days of last season before winning 57.1% of their games the rest of the way, so expect some positive regression.
One trend might explain the early woes for home teams - they're often favored. Through three weeks, favorites are a stunning 132-119 SU (52.6%). For reference, the worst season-long mark by favorites was 56.5% in 2006, and favorites have won at least 58% of games in 11 of the last 12 seasons.
This isn't even a typical early trend, either. Since 2012, favorites won 58% of their games in April entering this year and were profitable in half of those seasons. If you bet $100 on every favorite this season, you'd already be down a stunning $3,989 - the fourth-worst April mark since 2004 and 12th-worst mark in any month in those 18 seasons, despite still having nine days left in the month.
This season's average betting total (8.4) is right in line with the average total at this point in the season. The early returns, though, are what you might expect in a year featuring historic pitching dominance.
Entering Thursday, the league-wide batting average (.233) is the lowest in MLB history dating back to 1871, and the average runs scored per team are down from 4.65 a year ago to 4.35 this season. As expected, the under is a scintillating 141-117-5 (54.7%), the highest percentage in April dating back to 2004. Under bettors have also netted the highest return in that span, earning $1,342 on $100 bets through the first three weeks.
The real value, though, is betting low on the lowest of totals - which usually indicate a duel between two elite pitchers. Games with a total below eight are 42-18-3 to the under, good for a ridiculous 70% hit rate and $2,270 return if you bet $100 on the under for all 63 games. This trend has been profitable across all major sports in recent years, so bet it while you can before the market catches up.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.