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Hit A Home Run With Your Baseball Betting

Unsurprisingly, for the game which has come to be known as “America’s Pastime,” it is in the USA where the crème de la crème of baseball talent ply their trade. Featuring teams from both the US and Canada, Major League Baseball (MLB) is the unrivaled king of the hill for competitive action. As you would expect of such a popular sport, live TV and online coverage are never far away, enabling many in-play betting opportunities.

The regular MLB season runs each year from April to November, with each side playing no fewer than 162 games. When the wheat has been sorted from the chaff, we then head into the hugely exciting playoffs. This culminates in the contest that decides it all - the World Series, a battle between the best team from American League and National League. 

It’s not all about the MLB, though. With betting available on the US Minor Leagues and high-level competitions in both Cuba and Japan, you are never far away from a baseball betting opportunity.

With so many games taking place throughout the season and the amounts of statistical data available about each team and player, few sports are well suited for various betting strategies. Below we outline just a few of the most common wagers and things to consider before wagering. 

Outright

The most popular outright option for a quick bet is on a team to win the World Series. Other options include Divisional and League winners and a player to score the most home runs over a season.

Match Winner

Exactly what it says, a bet on a team to win a match. Remember that in baseball – as with most American sports - there’s no such thing as a draw. The teams will simply continue to play extra innings until one side comes out on top. 

In baseball, you can place Moneyline bets on a winner. This means that if you see a Moneyline like “New York Mets -200”, the New York Mets are a favorite to win the match, and you have to bet 200$ to win 100. On the other hand, “Washington Nationals +165” means that this team is an underdog, and a successful bet will net you 165$ for each 100$ wager. Moneylines below -300 or higher than +300 usually indicate a heavy favorite or a hopeless underdog, respectively. 

Run Line/Handicap

With this type of bet, the outsiders are effectively given a head start. A handicap listed as Philadelphia Phillies (-1.5) - Texas Rangers (+1.5) means that a bet on Texas (+1.5) will win should they either win the match or lose by just one run. For a bet on Philadelphia (-1.5) to payout, the Phillies must prevail by two or more runs to cover the +1.5 run head start given to the Rangers.

Total Runs

The bet on the total number of runs in the game will be presented as an over/under proposition. For example, “over/under 6.5 runs” means that if there will be seven or more runs in the game — the bet on “over” pays out. Six or fewer — on “under.” 

Total run bets often come with a Moneyline attached. So if you see something like “6.5 u-105”, this means you have to bet 105$ when betting on “under” for a chance to win 100.  And also hope for the teams to score five runs or less. “7.5 o-105” allows you to win 105$ for every wagered 100 if there will be eight or more runs in the match. 

Win It in Five

A relatively infrequent option that offers you to bet on the outcome of just five first innings of the game, not the whole match. In baseball, starting pitchers make a significant impact on the result. Therefore, it makes sense to bet on the period of the game when both starting pitchers are likely to be in action.

Fatigue takes its toll when repeatedly hurling the ball at 100mph+. So often, starting pitchers will be replaced from the sixth inning onwards — sooner if they are struggling. Coaches will call upon their replacements from the bullpen. And that’s when the real uncertainty begins as substitutes’ level of play can vary wildly. Starting pitcher personality is much more predictable. Thus your risk less when wagering by “Win it if five scheme.” 

Series Success

When the postseason comes, and teams face off in playoffs — now is the time to bet on the outcome of the series. With the Wildcard round being an exception, these playoffs aren’t one game only affairs but rather a “best of” series of games. This is “best of 5” in the Divisional round. In the League Championships and World Series rounds, it moves to a “best of 7”.

While a single game allows a reasonably decent chance for an underdog to come out on top, a more robust and more stable team will most likely win the series of games. So you need to assess the two sides involved in a particular series before wagering and not leave it out to luck only. 

Late Is Great

One of our favorite times of the year to bet on baseball is the final quarter of the regular season. By the time we reach the 120+ game mark, the schedule will regularly throw up matchups between sides who have realistic postseason hopes and those for whom this is nothing but a pipe dream. In such a situation, you should always seek to support more motivated sides and have something to play for.

Weather To Bet Or Not

One crucial factor to bear in mind when considering a bet on baseball is the weather and, more specifically, the wind and its direction. This can significantly impact the game’s outcome and, particularly, the number of runs in the match. If you are looking to go high on runs, you should, perhaps, reconsider if the wind is reported as blowing in towards the batter’s mound. Conversely, you should be encouraged should there be a strong wind at the batter’s back. The extra distance the ball can carry with a bit of support from the wind blow can make the difference between a hit becoming a home run or a flyball out.

Not All Umpires Were Created Equal

One of the most commonly overlooked factors in betting on baseball is the impact the umpire can have on the result. The strike zone in baseball may be designated as being between the batter’s knees and shoulders and above home plate. Still, the exact interpretation of this can vary wildly and controversially from umpire to umpire.

Thankfully, umpires are well covered when it comes to statistical data. The critical measure to look out for is the balls to strikes (BTS) ratio. (Note: A “ball” is any pitch not hit by the batter which the umpire deems to have fallen outside of the strike zone).

An umpire with a high BTS ratio can make it harder for the pitchers to strike their man out. This gives the batters a longer time at the bat, thus leading to more hit opportunities and crucially walks. The logical outcome of this is a higher total of runs.

It’s not just the runs total an umpire can affect, though. Consider a matchup between two pitchers — one is a strikeout specialist, and the other gets rid of his batters mainly through fly ball-outs. Clearly, the first pitcher will be more disadvantaged by an umpire with a high BTS than the latter.

Don’t Bet in the Dark, Consider the Park

When weighing up a bet, you also need to consider where the game will be played. Baseball parks may follow the same general layout, but not all are equal when it comes to the ability to score runs.

For example, San Francisco’s AT&T Park is traditionally a tough spot for the batters, averaging over 20% fewer runs per game than the Major League average. The thin air at Colorado’s Coors Field is, by contrast, something of a batter’s heaven, resulting in a glut of runs that is regularly 30%+ higher than the league average. We have picked two extreme cases for our examples here. Still, the difference between winning and losing can definitely lie on the grounds of the match venue. 

Beware of The DoubleHeader

The final thing to note in this section is something of a word of warning. At times, baseball teams play the same opposition twice on successive days or sometimes even on the same day in a doubleheader. Such matches are reasonably rare in MLB but still happen in minor leagues. 

So be cautious when placing bets. You could have accurately assessed the factors for the first game but screw everything up by wagering on the second. That will be much less predictable due to fatigue, player rotation, and injuries.  

Conclusion

Baseball is a dream sport for betters who enjoy statistics. The wealth of data available for analysis and the impact an individual player can make on the game offers almost endless opportunities for building your own betting strategy. Of course, you can’t be guaranteed to win all the time, but a little patience and attention to the factors outlined above can provide an abundance of profitable opportunities throughout the season.

Last Updated: Aug 14, 2021 Gamblescope Research Team