With so much money around in professional sport, it can be tempting to think that the big-spending teams with the star players will always dominate and that smaller teams will never get a look in. Of course, often that is how it works out, but not always.
The great thing about sport is that everyone starts from 0-0 at the start of a new season. Everyone is fighting hard to gain an advantage, and sometimes underdogs can get on a roll while favored teams hit a slump. A brief look back at recent history tells us that the most unlikely events can happen. Before 2016, conventional soccer wisdom was that only four to five big-money clubs could win the English Premier League. Leicester City blew that theory out of the water by winning the competition, having been rated as 5,000-1 outsiders at the start.
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Baseball also has a history of underdogs upsetting the odds. Last season, the Minnesota Twins landed a playoff spot having lost 103 games the year before. Back in 1967, the New York Mets lost 101 games. Two years later, they won 100 and reached the World Series against the Orioles, where they overturned expectations once again.
It can happen, and if you can spot these teams beforehand, it can be very lucrative indeed. Sports betting fans checking out the odds at Stakers will be looking for potentially underrated underdogs who can defy expectations and reach the playoffs and the World Series.
One team that may come into that category is Toronto. The Blue Jays had a poor 76-86 season last time around and missed out on the postseason for the first time in three years as a result, but they have made a better start this season, and with two of baseball’s most exciting prospects in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette in their ranks, they have the potential to go on a late-season run. The biggest problem for Toronto is that both the Yankees and the Red Sox have started the campaign strongly, and the Blue Jays probably need one of those two to slump if they are to get into the postseason.
Another side with underdog potential are the Atlanta Braves. Third in the National League East last year and bottom of the division in 2016, the Braves have made a great start to the 2018 season and are leading the League. A young, up-and-coming side with a deep lineup, no one predicted that the Braves would be ready for a postseason push, but if they continue to play the way they are at the moment, this could be their year.
The likes of the Yankees and the Red Sox, along with last season’s World Series winners the Houston Astros, are likely to be most baseball fans’ idea of this year’s champion, but as Leicester City and the New York Mets showed, sport is often more unpredictable than people expect. Don’t rule out the possibility of an underdog such as the Blue Jays or the Braves going all the way to the World Series and adding another intriguing chapter to MLB history.