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 unrivalled king of the hill when it comes to competitive action. As you would expect of such a popular sport, live tv coverage is never far away, enabling a multitude of in-play betting opportunities.
The MLB season runs from April to November each year with each side playing no fewer than 162 games during the regular season. When the wheat has been sorted from the chaff, we then head into the hugely exciting playoffs, culminating in the contest that decides it all - and one of the most watched sporting events in America - the World Series itself.
It’s not all about the MLB though. With betting available on the US Minor Leagues as well as high-level competitions in both Cuba and Japan, you are never far away from a baseball betting opportunity.
With so many games taking place over the course of a season, and an unparalleled level of statistical data available surrounding the teams and players, there are few sports so well suited to finding a betting edge.
As one would expect, betting options in baseball are broad and varied, from individual inning runs totals, player performances and more, but below we outline a few of the most common wagers.
The most popular outright option is a bet on a team to win the World Series itself. Other markets include Divisional and League winners; and a player to score the most home runs over a season.
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 this bet, the outsiders of the two teams 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 pay out, the Phillies must prevail by two or more runs to cover the +1.5 run head start given to the Rangers.
This will be presented as on over/under proposition. E.g over/under 6.5 runs. Seven or more runs in the game and over wins; six or fewer and a bet on under will pay out.
Win It in Five
Not all firms offer this option – which tells its own story – but where possible it is recommended that you should seek to bet on the result of a match after the first five innings only. The reason for this is the importance of the featured pitcher.
There is simply no individual player in this sport who has more impact on the result of a baseball match than the starting pitcher. It, therefore, makes sense that we should choose to bet on the period of the game when both starting pitchers are likely to be in action; namely the opening phase of the game.
Fatigue can take its toll when repeatedly hurling the ball at 100mph+, and often starting pitchers will be replaced from the sixth inning onwards – sooner if they are struggling. After this time the respective coaches will call upon their squadron of replacements, also known as the bullpen. The only trouble with this is that the quality of both an individual pitcher within a bullpen, and bullpens between teams can vary wildly. In theory swings due to the bullpen should even out over time - some will go for you and some against – but it is undoubtedly better to avoid this uncertainty altogether wherever possible when making a real money bet.
Slightly in contrast to the above scenario – where we aim to shorten the duration over which our bet plays out - there are occasions when we seek to support a team over a more extended period as is possible. This comes in the postseason when teams face off in the playoffs.
With the Wildcard round being the exception, these playoffs aren’t one game only affairs, but rather a “best of” series of games. In the Divisional round this is “best of 5”, and in the League Championships and World Series rounds it moves to a “best of seven”. Having assessed the two sides involved in a particular series, we may conclude that Team A has the edge. However, in baseball, small margins can decide an individual game. The best value often lies in supporting our selected side to win the series overall – rather than a particular game – and so give their perceived edge the greatest chance to play out.
Late Is Great
One of our favourite times of year on which to bet on baseball is late on in the final quarter of the regular season. Motivation counts for plenty when it comes to the outcome of any sporting contest, and baseball is no different. 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 it is nothing but a pipe dream. In such a situation you should always seek to support those sides with something to play for.
Weather To Bet Or Not
One important factor to bear in mind when considering a bet on baseball is the weather, and more specifically the wind and its direction. This can have a significant bearing on the outcome of the game 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 batters mound. Conversely, you should be encouraged should there be a strong wind at the batters back. The extra distance the ball can carry with a little support from the elements can make the difference between a hit becoming a home run or a flyball out.
Not All Umpires are Created Equally
One of the most commonly overlooked factors when it comes to betting on baseball is the impact the umpire can have on the result. The strike zone in baseball may be designated as being in between the knees and shoulders of the batter and above home plate, but the exact interpretation of this can vary wildly and controversially from umpire to umpire.
Thankfully – as with just about every other aspect of the sport – umpires are well covered when it comes to statistical data. The key measure to look out for here 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 that bit harder for the pitchers to strike their man out. This tends to give the batters longer time at 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 of whom is a strikeout specialist, and the other who gets rid of his batters mainly through fly ball outs. Clearly the first of these pitchers 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 is being played. Baseball parks may follow the same general layout, but not all are created equal when it comes to the ability to score runs.
San Francisco’s AT&T Park, for example, is traditionally a tough spot for the batters, averaging over 20% fewer runs per game that the Major League average. The thin air at Colorado’s Coors Field is, by contrast, something of a batters heaven, resulting in a glut of runs which is regularly 30%+ higher than the league average. We have picked two extreme cases for our examples here, but the difference between winning and losing in gambling can be a matter of fine margins, and it pays to pay attention to these park factors.
Beware The Double-Header
The final thing to note in this section is something of a word of warning. Baseball teams tend to play the same opposition on successive days – or sometimes even on the same day in a doubleheader – so you need to be a bit more cautious when placing those bets. If you have accurately assessed the pitching matchup for Game one of a series, it would be a shame to undo all that hard work by inadvertently placing a bet on game two.
For fans of sports betting fans who like statistics, baseball is something of a dream sport. The wealth of statistical data available on just about every factor you can think of means the avenues to find an angle to bet in a match are almost endless. You don’t need to become the World’s most celebrated “Sabermetrician” to come out on top though. With so many games on offer; a little patience and attention to the factors outlined above can provide a whole host of profitable opportunities over the course of a season.
As with any form of betting, you will, of course, strike out from time to time, but when do your homework, stake sensibly and concentrate on the long run, you have every chance of hitting enough of those betting home runs to keep yourself ahead of the game.