Major League Baseball tends to be under bet even though it offers more opportunities than any other sport. There are 30 teams, each playing 162 games, and there’s a fairly active postseason. The regular season alone offers bettors 2,430 games to wager. If you played either the runline or moneyline and placed a totals bet on all games, you’d have made 4,860 bets over the course of about six months. That’s an average of 27 bets a day!
No one wagers that much on MLB, and there’s no reason to. In fact, the wealth of opportunity in MLB betting often causes bettors to make classic mistakes. They will lose one or two games in a row, then try to quickly make up their losses with a handful of fast wagers.
One thing all sports bettors must understand about baseball is that there is nothing quick about it. The game is slow, the season is long, and bettors have ample time to win cash, and to even make up for losses at a steady pace. Here’s an overview regarding betting on baseball.
MLB Betting Articles
- Introduction to Major League Baseball
- How to Make Smart MLB Bets
- MLB Matchup Tips and Winning Bets
- MLB Run Line Betting
- MLB Betting Daily Routine
A Long Season
Baseball has the longest season of any professional sport in the U.S. The season is almost seven months long and the game schedule is the most extensive you’ll find anywhere. Unlike any other sports, games are played in a series that averages three games, although they can range from two to four contests.
The season has a lot of ups and downs. A team that’s in first place at the start or even midway through the season may be totally out of the playoff picture by the end. A top team may go on a double-digit losing streak, and a last place team could take an entire series from a first place club.
When you sports bet on baseball, you have to stay mindful at all times. There are games almost every day and there are close to 100 games played each week. Use the length and complexity of the season to your advantage by carefully monitoring players, teams, and series.
Basics of Betting
There are three essential wagers for an MLB game. They are the moneyline, runline, and totals (over/under). At many online sportsbooks, you can also find various props on which you may wager. Still, the lifeblood for professional sports bettors continues to be these three primary wagering opportunities.
The moneyline wager is your basic win/loss bet. You pick who you think will win the game outright, and if they do, you get paid. You’ll bet more on the favorite to win less, and less on the underdog to win more.
The runline is a combination of the spread and moneyline. With the runline, the favorite team gives up 1.5 runs, while the underdog is given 1.5. The odds tend to be the reverse of those offered through the moneyline due to the fact that the small spread makes it tougher for the favorite to win and for the underdog to lose.
The totals wager is for both teams and it may be stated as a half-run number, such as +/-6.5, or as a whole number, such as +/-7. This is an uncomplicated bet.
You may find props on stats such as a team’s run total over/under, how many strikeouts the starter will get, and the over/under on how many homers will be hit. Props tend to be bad bets. Stick with moneyline or runline and totals wagers.
Place basic bets, which include the money line, run line, and totals. These are the wagers on which you can make cash often and over time. Parlays are tough to hit in any sport, but they are exceptionally treacherous in baseball.
There are times when you’ll want to play the money line, as often it seems fairly clear which team will most likely win a game. However, with the money line the favorite might be listed at -160, which means you’ll have to bet $160 to win $100.
The same team listed under the run line, which incorporates a small spread, might be listed at -1.5. That means they must win by two runs to cover. If you believe they will win by at least two runs, that team can be a good bet, because now that the run line has put them at a disadvantage their odds will go to +150, which means you risk $100 to win $150. The run line may be a preferred bet.
Depending on the pitchers and teams, the over/under on a MLB game usually ranges from seven to nine runs. These can be good bets to make. However, many times these are not listed with a half-run differential, which means they can end as a push with all bets being returned.
Knowing and Waiting
Savvy sports bettors know that wagering on MLB is a waiting game. It really does pay to be patient and find the right games on which to bet. These are matchups about which you feel confident because you have discovered an edge that will benefit you.
There are about 100 games to wager each week. You’ll be ahead of the game if you can find around a dozen that offer you value and on which you can load two to four units each. If you bet about 12 games per week, that’s 2 per day, allowing you the amount of time you need to properly handicap each one.
Make quality, value-based bets on about 10-15% of the week’s games. You have a decent chance of making money that week if you do so.
Riding Certain Pitchers
The first betting tip that you can take to the bank is to ride certain starting pitchers. Look for aces or other starters who:
- Have solid ERAs.
- Tend to post quality starts pitch six complete innings and give up no more than three runs.
- Get run support from the team.
- Matchup well with their opponent for the day.
- Are backed by a sound bullpen.
If you can find just six of these pitchers, you’ll have about 180 games to bet on over the course of a season. You’re looking for somewhere around 300 games over the course of an entire season, so by identifying six starters to ride, you’re almost two-thirds of the way there.
Home or Away Team Favorites
There are some baseball teams that are simply unbeatable at home. In baseball, a common road record is .500. That means that the top teams are winning about 65% of their home games. However, you may locate a few clubs that are dominant when on the road, winning 65% to 70%. Whatever the case may be, try to identify these clubs and pay close attention to them. They could be good bets.
Series and Team Dominators
There are also some teams that will dominate in a series and dominate certain teams. This phenomenon is not confined to top teams beating up on cellar dwellers. In fact, often you will find that one of the worst teams in the league will win a majority of their games against one of the best.
The reason for this usually has to do with how they matchup against the other team. Look for these clubs, as they could offer a sweet payoff throughout the MLB season.
Weak Rotations and the Mid-Season
Be wary of teams that get off to hot starts, but that have weak rotations. Teams with a vulnerable rotation will start to fail once you’re a few months into the season. Suddenly, due to fatigue, injury, and lack of depth, the MLB club that was fast out of the gate can’t seem to win a game. By mid-season, they have completely fallen apart. You may be able to ride these teams at the start of the season, but be sure to carefully monitor them. You have to know when to get off the team bus and start betting against them.
There are some teams that look great on paper but have a tough time bringing it all home. They may go into the eighth ahead, but by the end of the game they have lost or given up enough runs to wreck the runline. Often this is due to a weak and inconsistent bullpen. For a team to win, they need solid middlemen, a fine setup guy, and a stellar closer.
American and National Leagues
The American and National Leagues have one major difference that can have a significant impact. The American League has the DH, while the National League does not. On average, the DH adds about one extra run per game, while the lack of a DH means that National League coaches have to do a lot more strategizing with their pitching staffs. Also in the NL, the pitcher bats – and tends to be about as automatic an out as you can get.
MLB’s postseason is the most exclusive of all team sports played in the U.S. A total of five teams from each league (ten total) make it to the playoffs. Four of those teams, which compose the Wild Cards, play a one-game playoff before two are eliminated.
The next series, the Division Series, is a best three-of-five. In this series, teams will usually carry three starters, expanding their bullpens. A team that has a thinner starting staff actually has a decent chance of moving onto the league championship series. The winning Wild Card team that gets a chance to compete in the five-game series is often at a disadvantage because their ace probably started the one-game Wild Card playoff. Usually, he won’t be able to pitch until Game Three of the next series.
The ALCS, NLCS and the World Series are all series that feature the best four-of-seven games. Pitching staffs are expanded usually to four starters, although three may be used depending on how the series plays out.
If a team sweeps a series, they often have an advantage over a team that went seven games. That’s because the club that won in four games comes to the World Series with a rested rotation. However, sometimes teams won’t utilize this advantage, as they get off to sluggish start in the World Series. Watch out for complacent NLCS or ALCS winners. They can be hurt by the extra time off.
Remember that professional sports bettors always try to lower their risk by finding games that offer them a better-than-average opportunity to win. They are constantly on the hunt for the edge that they can exploit and value that will give them a solid payout.
Use the pages on this website to learn more about betting on MLB. They will give you insights, techniques, and information that you can use every day as an MLB handicapper. Finally, make sure that you do your homework before placing a bet on any baseball game. Detailed matchups will allow you to make smart choices.