The Chicago Cubs lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on Sunday night. This was not the beginning the defending champions were hoping for but the result was especially painful for bettors. The Cubs received 64% of moneyline bets and 59% of moneyline dollars as -122 favorites. Given the poor start, should bettors fade the Cubs?

The theory would be that there is value in fading the reigning World Series champions early in the season because the public will strongly back them (as they did on Sunday) and the lines will be inflated due to the extra bets. Is this a contrarian strategy that will work?

We went back through our database and pulled the moneyline results for each defending World Series champion dating back to 2005 to see how they performed in the first month of the season (all games before May).

Fading the champs is a bad idea. If you bet against each team that won the World Series the year before for the first month of the season you would have gone 131-158 (45.3%) on the moneyline. This would have cost bettors 12.2 units since 2005. This is not a viable contrarian strategy.

Blindly backing the champs isn’t a smart play either. Since 2005, defending champions in the first month of the season have gone 158-131 (54.7%) on the moneyline, +3.46 units. While the return is positive, there is no consistency to the results. Half of the years have been losers.

The Cubs let bettors down on Opening Day but fading the champs is not a profitable strategy.

Cubs vs. Cardinals

There is a Pro System for this game that is 722-571 (56%), +101.7 units

Get the pick for tonight’s game

Moneyline results for fading the defending champions

YearTeamRecordROI %Units
2005Red Sox11-121.10.24
2006White Sox7-17-30.8-7.39
2008Red Sox12-17-18-5.23
2014Red Sox14-1312.83.46