The Detroit Tigers are a trash fire. They haven’t sniffed the playoffs in nearly a decade. Their big-league roster is a pile of stale stogies on Sleeping Bear Dunes, and that was before they traded their best starting pitcher. Their minor-league system is the ash tray in a broken-down Buick. Their manager oversaw a southeast Texas cheating operation that literally involved banging on garbage cans.
And yet, many Michiganders have bet on them to win — and win big.
“I have noticed the betting on the Tigers in Michigan, especially this year when they’ve been more competitive,” said Eric Biggio, the lead baseball trader at Caesars Sportsbook. “As far as one franchise, the states with the most loyal support I’ve seen are Rhode Island and Massachusetts with the Red Sox. I could see the Tigers getting to that level if they get back to playoff contention.”
Two things warrant explaining here. For starters, bettors in a given team’s home state tend to back said team at a disproportionately higher rate than in the rest of the country, because fandom is real. Secondly, by “more competitive,” Biggio is talking about a Detroit team that is 12 games under .500 but is only 6.5 games out of first place in the American League Central, which may go down as the worst division in Major League Baseball history come season’s end.
Also, Michiganders really like to bet on baseball. Over the last two months, Michigan has the second highest percentage of handle attributed to baseball in states where Rush Street Interactive, whose sportsbooks include BetRivers and SugarHouse, is in operation. That ranks above both Illinois and Pennsylvania, each of which have two MLB teams.
Bettors back better teams
Across BetMGM’s U.S. customer base, just 4.3% of all futures bets are on the Tigers to win the American League pennant. Somewhat shockingly, that ranks them 10th among all AL teams.
That might have something to do with Michiganders’ preseason over-exuberance, as 33% of all AL pennant futures bets in the state have been placed on its only MLB squad. Compare that to Colorado, where 17.6% of NL pennant bets in that state are backing the woeful Rockies.
This isn’t to say Michigan bettors are blindly backing their pussycats. Over the last three months at WynnBET, only 10% of all bets placed in the state have involved the Tigers.
“This really doesn’t compare to what the Red Sox are doing in Massachusetts or the Diamondbacks in Arizona,” the sportsbook said in an emailed statement.
Moreover, in PointsBet’s World Series-winner market, the Tigers rank 10th among Michigan bettors behind several (mostly) superior teams. In order, Michiganders are backing Tampa, Atlanta, the Yankees, the Mets, Houston, San Diego, the Dodgers, and the Rangers in greater numbers than Detroit to triumph in the Fall Classic.
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