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Betting against historically bad A’s boosts gamblers’ bankrolls

As the Golden Knights bask in the glory of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title, the Athletics are on track for a historic season of their own before their planned move to Las Vegas.

A historically bad one.

The A’s are on pace to finish with the worst 162-game record in baseball history, an inglorious feat that would be celebrated only by the gamblers who bet against them.

Oakland lost its eighth straight game Thursday to fall to 19-58 and is on track to finish 40-122. That would undercut the 2003 Tigers, who at 43-119 have the worst mark since baseball went to a 162-game schedule in 1961.

Bettors who have faded (wagered against) the A’s this season are up big. If they bet on Oakland’s opponent to win $100 in every game, they would be ahead $1,868.

Those $100 bettors were up $2,647 after the A’s fell to 12-50. But they lost $1,579 during Oakland’s improbable seven-game winning streak before recouping $800 during the current slide.

The A’s, who have been favored in only two games this season, both losses, were underdogs in all seven wins during their streak. Had a bettor wagered $100 on Oakland in the first win and rolled over the winnings, they would’ve won more than $156,000.

Books root for A’s

Despite the unlikely hot streak, sportsbooks have lost money this season on the A’s, who have the majors’ lowest batting average (.221) and highest ERA (6.01).

“At the beginning of the season, we were rooting for the A’s every day, and that had nothing to do with the team moving to Las Vegas. That was because everybody was betting against the A’s every day like it was free money,” Westgate SuperBook director John Murray said. “We had pretty significant liability on the A’s on the money line and run line. We pretty much needed Oakland every night for a while.

“We did get a lot of the money back when they went on that winning streak. I’m sure people that were blindly fading them are being a little bit more careful now.”

Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said Station Casinos also has been A’s fans on a daily basis.

“They’ve been a pretty constant bet-against, and they’re a constant to put in a parlay,” he said. “If someone has a four-, five- or six-teamer, they’ll throw in whoever the A’s are playing.”

Bettors who fade the A’s on the run line (-1½) haven’t been as fortunate. Oakland’s opponents are only 42-35 on the run line and dealt run-line bettors bad beats with four straight one-run wins over the A’s before the Guardians beat Oakland 6-1 on Thursday.

Biggest losers

The A’s are baseball biggest losers at the betting window, costing $100 bettors who backed them in every game $2,939. But the Royals (21-54) aren’t that far behind, as gamblers have hemorrhaged $2,678 despite Kansas City beating the MLB-best Rays 6-5 on Thursday as +266 underdogs.

When it comes to money pitchers, Kansas City right-hander Jordan Lyles has been baseball’s biggest loser, as the Royals are 0-15 (-$1,500) in his starts. Lyles is slated to start Saturday at Tampa Bay.

Other big losers include the Cardinals (31-44), Mets (34-40) and Padres (36-39).

“The Cardinals are having a dreadful season,” Murray said. “I remember players we respected betting them pick’em to win the division before the season started. It’s incredible how bad they’ve been.

“The Mets and Padres have been really good for the book. We took a lot of futures money on both those teams.”

Biggest winners

The National League West-leading Diamondbacks (46-30) are the biggest money winners, bringing home $1,413 for bettors.

Other big winners are the Orioles (45-28, +$1,333) and the Reds (40-35, +1,265), the hottest team in baseball on an 11-game winning streak.

Baltimore starter Dean Kremer, a UNLV product, is the best money pitcher, as the Orioles are 10-5 in his starts for a profit of $684.

Of the four major American pro sports, Esposito said books normally have the lowest hold (win percentage) on baseball.

“Because you’re just picking winners,” he said. “In basketball and football, the point spread becomes the equalizer. And you’re betting on pitching, too. People are OK laying a bigger price when you’re just picking a team to win.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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