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By Sam Panayotovich
FOX Sports Betting Analyst
Major League Baseball is at its best when teams like the New York Yankees are shining bright.
The 27-time world champions have rocketed out of the proverbial gate to a ridiculous 56-21 record and a staggering 12.5-game lead in the American League East as the calendar turns to July.
And you better believe American sports bettors are taking full advantage of the Bronx Bombers at the betting window this Independence Day.
“We’re easily writing mid-six figures on the Yankees every single day,” Westgate SuperBook executive director John Murray told FOX Sports. “That’s far more than we’re writing on any other team. And remember, we’ve got the SuperBook operating in New Jersey now, where the Yankees are super popular on top of all the money that shows in Nevada.
“They’ve blown us away. We had guys in our risk room that had the Blue Jays as the best team in the AL East before the season. We thought there were some holes in the Yankees’ roster, but it was very apparent early on that we were wrong about that. They continue to exceed expectations on almost a daily basis. It seems like even when they’re dead in a game, they find a way to win the game and bury us.
“The Yankees are the team that’s hurt us the most.”
Guys like Murray are used to booking avalanches of money when marquee franchises are thriving in a given season.
When teams like the Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Lakers are dominating their respective sports, the streams of money at the betting window never seem to stop.
“Now that we’re onto the dog days of summer, and it’s just baseball, our biggest need almost every day is whoever the Yankees are playing,” Murray said. “They were down 5-1 the other night to the A’s, and we just needed the A’s to cover the +1.5 for a huge number. We couldn’t even get that. [NYY won 9-5, thanks to a six-run explosion in the seventh inning].
“It’s every way possible. It’s the runline, it’s parlay bettors and some of our biggest house players are making significant straight bets on the Yankees, too. It’s an accumulation of all those things. Every day when we do our ‘what if’ numbers and discuss what we need, it seems like the Yankees are always the team we’re rooting against.
“The public seems convinced the Yankees just can’t lose.”
And where the public goes, the liability follows.
“The Yankees are clearly the best team, and they’ve got their division won already, but the main thing is all the money that’s come in. We opened the Yankees too high in the future book at 14-1, and we took some pretty big bets at 10-1. The liability built up quickly. It was a very easy decision to move them to the World Series favorite.”
One of the biggest factors contributing to the Yankees’ shortening odds is Aaron Judge’s historic season. So far, his 29 home runs rank first in the league and his 59 RBIs rank fourth — all of this before the All-Star break. And if fan-favorite Judge ends up finishing the season with 60 homers on a 110-win Yankees team, the Baseball Writer’s Association won’t deliberate long on awarding Aaron a new accolade.
“He’ll be the MVP if all that happens,” Murray said. “[Shohei] Ohtani is so dominant as a hitter and a pitcher, and you could make an argument for him being the most valuable. But the MVP goes to the player that has the best season and Judge has been unbelievable.
“It seems like he hits a home run every day. And he’s hitting big homers in big moments. He’s delivering in clutch moments, not blasting balls out of the park when the Yankees are leading 7-1 in the eighth inning. He’s definitely the deserved favorite right now and the liability is real.
“One guy bet $500 on Judge at 40-1 and another guy has $1,000 at 25-1.”
History also bodes well for this Yankees team. This is the fastest they have reached 50 wins since 1998 when they also started 50-17. New York went on to win the World Series that season.
While the pinstripers seem poised to win another World Series later this year, there are a couple of potential strong contenders that stand between NYY and their 28th trophy, Murray noted.
“I would still point to Houston in the American League because of the pedigree,” he opined. “The Astros have lost two of the last three World Series, and they’re always there. That was an amazing series between those two teams in 2017. Those two are pretty evenly matched.
“And I know the Dodgers lost a few ballgames recently, but that’s still a phenomenal team. They’re hands down the best in the National League. In a seven-game series, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Astros or Dodgers beat the Yankees in the postseason.”
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He’ll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.
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