MLB: Gamblers Should Be Very Afraid of ESPN Baseball Experts

Washington Nationals v San Francisco Giants
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Some say betting on baseball is a fool’s errand. So many unexpected things can happen in the course of a single game, let alone an eternal season. Then again, it depends where you get your information and how you apply it to your picks. One thing is certain: Anyone hoping to win money on Major League Baseball futures would be best served avoiding any (probably all) calls made by ESPN experts.

The tale of the tape in 2015 is damning enough. In April, ESPN polled 88 of its experts on who would win the divisions and each of the postseason rounds. A total of 54 picked the Washington Nationals (37) and Los Angeles Dodgers (17) to win the World Series.

Picks for the division winners were equally bad. In the American League East, 36 of the experts picked the Red Sox to take the title. (They came in last.) Things got worse in the AL Central, where a mere three of the 88 chose the Royals as the likely champ. The Cleveland Indians (43) and Detroit Tigers (25), neither of whom made the postseason, got the lion’s share.

Over in the AL West, the 88 votes were split between the Mariners (54), Angels (28), and A’s (6). Not a single expert picked the division’s eventual playoff teams. Things went comparatively better in the National League, where picks for the Cardinals and Dodgers proved popular. However, just a single vote went to the New York Mets. Finally, 100% of the 15 experts shown picking the World Series winners failed, with not a single one picking either the Royals or Mets to win their respective leagues.

We know predicting an entire season is a serious challenge, so we checked on the postseason predictions ESPN experts made the days before the playoffs began. It turns out the end-of-year perspective improved little for the Worldwide Leader’s top talent.

World Series - Kansas City Royals v New York Mets - Game Five
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Of the 23 picks published, only Jerry Crasnick picked the Royals to win it all, while Mets beat writer Adam Rubin was the only one bold enough to go for New York as World Series champs. A total of two writers picked the Mets as NL champs, while five picked the Royals to take the AL pennant. Toronto, the sexy pick in early October, got 12 of the 23 experts’ votes to win it all.

We’re not picking on ESPN, either. A review of the Sport Illustrated expert crew reveals a majority of Cardinals and Dodgers picks with Kansas City and the Mets nowhere to be seen (not even as Wild Cards). To the SI crew’s great credit, there were two who went with the Blue Jays as kings of the AL East way back in April, so bravo on that. CBS Sports also had a rough go at it, though Jon Heyman made a great pick when he took the Royals as his AL Central winners.

So we finally come to Vegas. Anyone who bet big on the Royals got the pleasure of 30-1 odds (same as the Mets) in April. For those who wagered it would be the Nationals (6-1), Dodgers (8-1) or, gasp, the Red Sox (12-1) winning the World Series, we just hope you didn’t bet too much.

Of course, Sports Cheat Sheet has not been in the habit of making preseason (or even end-of-season) predictions, so we can’t say we would have done any better than the wildly failing experts among the biggest names in sports media. We just know you shouldn’t trust any of them with your money.

Check out 2015 MLB postseason coverage from Sports Cheat Sheet.

Follow Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY