Does Major League Baseball wagering get the sort of action that pro or college football or basketball do? Most certainly not. The baseball season might not take the longest of the American major sports in terms of the calendar, but it’s a bit of a drag with 162 regular-season games. However, where would bettors be without baseball in the summer? It’s what sustains most gamblers from the end of the NHL and NBA playoffs until college football and the NFL kickoff.
In addition, there is money to be made on online baseball betting because of the monotony of the season. It’s impossible for books to be sharp on every single game out of 4,860 in a normal regular season. That’s why betting baseball can often be more profitable than wagers on the major US sports.
Baseball and Hockey Like Brothers
If you are a hockey bettor or happened to read How to Bet on Hockey at this site, baseball wagers are much the same. As in hockey, there is no pointspread in baseball. That fact alone scares off many bettors and is why football and basketball thrive.
To wager on baseball for the winning side is to bet on the moneyline. So if the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox, the line might look like: Yankees -150/Red Sox +140. That means you must wager $150 to win $100 on the favored Yanks, while $100 bet on the Sox returns $140. Most moneylines in baseball are separated by either a dime or 20 cents, depending on the sportsbook. Some lopsided matchup can be as high as 40 cents. You will almost never see a baseball favorite higher than -280.
All baseball betting lines also have a total runline scored between the teams, no matter how many innings the game goes. So the Yankees-Sox matchup might have an over/under of 9.5 runs, with both the over and under having a moneyline price (they can be the same). Many MLB lines are set with a half-line to avoid ties. The highest you will see a baseball total is generally 10.5 and the lowest 6. Totals tend to be on the low end in the playoffs when each team has its best pitchers going.
The No. 1 factor in determining both the moneyline prices and the total runs in any MLB betting matchup is the starting pitchers on both sides. It’s why on any sportsbook the last name of each team’s starting pitcher is listed. You don’t see the name of a starting goalie in hockey, for example. A good pitcher on a bad team can beat an excellent opponent almost single-handedly. If a superstar hitter like a Miguel Cabrera is ruled out of a game, it might move the moneyline ever so slightly. However, if an ace pitcher like a Clayton Kershaw is ruled out suddenly, the line will shift dramatically in favor of the opposition.
Online baseball betting does have a version of the pointspread, and it’s called the runline. Runlines are set at plus- or minus-1.5 runs per game, although bettors can buy alternate runlines at additional pricing. When a team is a MLB betting favorite on the moneyline, it usually will be the underdog on the runline because many games are decided by just one run in baseball – around 30 percent is average for each team in a season. So in the Yankees-Sox example, Boston would be plus-1.5 runs (-160) and New York minus-1.5 runs (+140). Most runlines are separated by 20 cents. One way of looking at this for your baseball betting strategy is if you bet Boston on the runline you win one of two ways: if the Sox win outright or lose by just a run. A confident Yankees baseball bettor expecting a blowout win could double up on New York on the moneyline and runline.
All baseball games come with several prop options. There is a baseball betting prop version of the halftime score in football, which is called the five-inning line. Here there will be moneyline prices on which team is leading after five innings. That’s essentially halfway through the game but also notable because games can be called due to weather after five innings and the result is official.
Player props are plentiful in baseball wagering. Over/under strikeouts for Kershaw against the Giants. Over/under number of runs, hits and RBIs combined for Cabrera in a game against the Orioles. Will Albert Pujols homer against the Rangers? Live betting has really made baseball wagering more interesting and extrapolates the prop options – you can bet on a single pitch – a hundredfold.
Also because the baseball season is so long, MLB futures odds such as World Series winner or NL East winner generally will stay active most of the season. These types of baseball odds can change greatly, however, right around the July 31 trade deadline. Baseball’s trade deadline has much more of an effect on championship outcomes than the other sports simply because more big names change places. MLB teams like to deal potential free agents before losing them for nothing.
So what’s the best baseball betting strategy to beat the books? Let’s start with pitchers. With a click of a button, you can see how a starter has fared in his past three starts, against a team or each individual batter in a lineup. This should be the first priority. You will almost never see a team with a star pitcher like Kershaw or Justin Verlander as a home underdog. Even a bad team like Seattle will be a slight favorite on the road against all but the best teams whenever ace Felix Hernandez is on the mound. Most good pitchers are top strikeout guys, so they can keep the ball out of play for a large chunk of the 27 outs needed in a nine-inning game.
The weather is obviously important when looking at a total in an outdoor game on your baseball betting strategy. Those played in the thin air of Colorado’s Coors Field will generally have a total of 10. When two aces are competing, it will be six. If it’s two No. 5 starters, it could be 9.5. No park perhaps is more unpredictable with the total than Chicago’s Wrigley Field. MLB betting lines are generally available 24 hours before a game. Those at Wrigley often won’t have an opening total until the oddsmakers determine if the wind will be blowing in or out. The former scenario is likely to lead to low scores, while the latter figures to mean plenty of home runs. These facts are always important to consider when wagering on baseball.
Starting in 2013 with Houston moving to the American League, there will be an interleague game every day of the season. That means it’s vital on your baseball wagering system to determine whether an interleague series is in the AL or NL park. AL teams are built around their designated hitters; they are often the top sluggers on the team. When AL teams have to play without their DH, like Boston without David Ortiz, they are at a disadvantage because the NL teams are built without them. Plus AL pitchers never have to hit, while their NL counterparts at least are practiced to do so. This goes vice versa as well. NL teams are built to steal more and play station-to-station to baseball. They don’t play for the three-run homer and don’t have a DH-type slugger on their bench. So it’s a big advantage to the AL teams when they play at home.
One drawback of baseball being played every day is there is no injury report as in the NFL. In the NBA and NHL teams have practices between games so it’s a bit easier to gauge if a player might be injured and miss the next game. No such luck in pondering your baseball wagering strategy. What managers will do is rest their stars, or slightly injured players, in “throwaway” games. For example, the 10th game of a 10-game road trip with an off day following. That would allow someone like Yankees manager Joe Girardi to give veteran Derek Jeter two days off. Getaway games also are when you will see starters often get a breather. This is when teams play an afternoon game following a night game because one or both of the teams have to travel out afterward. With the quick turnaround, managers opt to play it safe.