Five best MLB franchises to bet on over the past 20 years

Which MLB teams were the best bets over the last 20 years? (1:16)

Doug Kezirian and Preston Johnson give their picks for the best MLB teams to bet on in recent history. (1:16)

Maybe baseball isn't that profitable for bettors. Twenty-six of the 30 MLB teams have shown less than a 20-unit profit over the past 20 seasons, with the Braves coming in at 19.22.

So which teams have paid off the most for bettors over the past two decades?

Here are the five teams with the most combined units won over the past 20 years (based on 1-unit bets), based on research from ESPN Stats & Information.

No. 1 Oakland Athletics (68.19 units)

Always the under-the-radar franchise, the Moneyball A's are more known for trading and finding player value than spending money and winning. However, their 10 postseason appearances, as well as their .534 win percentage over the past 20 seasons, both rank sixth in the majors, behind only much-bigger-spending teams: the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Cardinals and Braves. The A's have six AL West titles and four wild-card appearances over this time but have been snake-bitten in the postseason, advancing to the American League Championship Series once and losing nine winner-takes-all games. But those who bet them in the regular season have been rewarded with 68.19 units in the positive, the best in the majors since 2000.

No. 2: St. Louis Cardinals (51.46)

One of the more consistent teams year after year, the Cardinals end up second on this list, the only other team to reward bettors with more than 50 units up since 2000. The Cardinals made the postseason 13 times over this period, second only to the Yankees, and have two World Series titles (2006, 2011), two more pennants (2004, 2013) and 10 trips to the National League Championship Series to show for it. The Cardinals had only one losing record and never finished worse than third in the division.

No. 3: Los Angeles Angels (48.36)

The Angels' presence on this list might surprise some, as they have only one 90-win season and one postseason appearance in the past decade. But it was the decade before (2000-09) that put the Angels on this list. In that decade the Angels made six postseason appearances, winning five AL West titles and the 2002 World Series as a 99-win wild-card team. The Angels won fewer than 89 games once during 2002-09, with a losing season the year after the championship. Bettors were rewarded with close to 50 units in the past 20 years.

No. 4: Texas Rangers (34.64)

The Rangers began the millennium with four consecutive last-place finishes and one winning season from 2000 to 2008. But 2010-13 saw four consecutive 90-win seasons, two AL West titles and back-to-back World Series appearances. The Rangers won two more AL West titles in 2015-16, losing in the ALDS both times. Overall, bettors saw a 34-unit return on investment over the past 20 years, good for fourth best in the majors.

No. 5: Atlanta Braves (19.22)

The top-five list really should've been the top four, as there is a steep drop-off before you get to the Braves at fifth. Twenty-six of the 30 MLB teams have shown less than a 20-unit profit over the past 20 seasons, with the Braves coming in at 19.22. The Braves started the 2000s continuing the dominance of the 1990s with their ninth through 14th consecutive division titles. After a few years of missing the postseason, Atlanta bounced back with wild-card berths in 2010 and 2012 and division titles the past two seasons.