Baseball is not a very complicated sport, but it is worth going over the basics before discussing the types of bets that you can place.
Two teams with nine players each play the game. Each of the teams will have nine innings during which the batting team sends one player at a time to bat (they are often called hitters or batters) until three of the hitters are “out”. The other team, pitching the ball, will have nine players on the field trying to prevent the opposition from scoring.
The home team will always bat second (which is known as the “bottom” of the inning), while the visiting team will bat “top” of the inning. A point, or run, is scored when a runner reaches the home base having touched the first, second and third bases. Only one runner can be on any individual base at a time.
There are of course more rules, but it is important to understand the basic structure of the sport before betting on it.
Betting on Baseball
Baseball presents a wealth of betting opportunities. There are many different types of bets that can be placed on each game, and in MLB alone, there are 4,860 regular games per season. Here we will introduce the main baseball betting markets as well as those that are unique to the sport.
Money Line Bets
The Money Line bet may have a slightly confusing name but it is actually the most straightforward of bets and it simply refers to which of the two teams will win the game. You just have to pick which team you think will win and then if they do, then you will win your bet.
Run Line Bets
Run Line bets are unique to baseball but they are similar to the point spread bets that you find on sports such as basketball and football. It can be a very profitable bet when successful, but it requires good knowledge of baseball statistics, trends, and so on.
A Run Line bet is essentially a bet on how many points a team will win by. For example, if the bet has a 1.5-spread, then the favourite team has to win by at least two runs, otherwise they will not cover the spread. If you were betting on the underdog, then you would need the team to lose by 1 point or to win the game to win the bet. One of the great things about Run Line bets is that the odds are usually far more generous than on Money Line bets.
Totals or Over/Under Bets
Totals, also known as Over/Under bets, are extremely popular in all sports and it is a type of bet that can apply to many different aspects of a game. In baseball, Total bets are usually on the total number of runs that will be scored by both teams over the entire game, including extra innings. It doesn’t make a difference which team wins the game, you are simply betting on how many runs will be scored.
For example, you may see an Over/Under market of 4.5. If five or more runs are scored in the game then the Over bet would win, if four or fewer runs are scored in the game then the Under wins.
A Parlay bet is a combination of Money Line, Run Line, and/or Total bets into a single bet. You place a number of bets but you need them all to win for you to receive a payout. While this is undoubtedly harder than placing a single bet, it also means that the odds can be very generous so there is the chance of big rewards.
For instance, if you think a team is going to win a game and score many runs, then you could combine the Money Line and the Over bet. The more bets that you combine the better the odds become but the harder it becomes to win the bet.
Futures Bets are just what they sound like, a bet on something that will happen in the future such as the outcome of the entire season. For instance, at the start of a season you could bet on which team will win the World Series, which teams will win each pennant (AL/NL), who will win the MVP, and so on. In general, the further ahead you place the bet, the better the odds will be.
These types of bet can be hugely enjoyable and they are very varied. For example, there is the MLB Grand Salami bet, which is on the total number of runs scored in all games scheduled on that given day. You may also find bets such as the following:
- Which manager will be the first to be fired?
- Will a pitcher record a Perfect Game?
- What will be the fastest recorded pitch of the season?
- What will be the longest home run hit?
Be sure to take a careful look at the proposition bets on offer as you never know what you will find and they could give you the chance to try for some extra winnings.
There will be many more betting markets available, and often the bets are quite specific. For instance, you can place bets on which team will be the first to score three runs, which team will score the first and last home runs, the number of runs scored in any given inning, and so on. All of these bets work on the principles explained above, and you will have no problems understanding them when you come across them.
What to Consider When Betting on Baseball
The key to placing successful bets is to do your research carefully. While it can never be guaranteed that you will win a bet, you are more likely to win if you have gathered as much information as possible and analysed it carefully.
For instance, when it comes to baseball it is important that you keep track of rotation and who will be the starting pitcher in a game. The performance of the starting pitcher dictates a team’s success more than any other position. As a result, you will often see short odds when a star pitcher is starting.
You can also look at pitching statistics such as the IP (Innings Pitched), WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched), ERA (Earned Run Average) and WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player). The same is true when it comes to assessing the batters. There are many different statistics available, and you will want to keep an eye on ones such as PA (Plate Appearances) WOBA (Weighted On-Base Average), OBP (On-Base Percentage) and ISO (Isolated Power).
In baseball more than in many other sports, where a game is taking place, is of huge importance. This is because the playing surface changes from park to park. Furthermore, each park has different proportions, so the distances from the home plate to the different walls will vary as will the height of the walls. While the bases and foul lines are uniform, the differing outfields can have a big impact on a game. Some parks suit hitters or pitchers more and it is important to look into the effect that a park has on an offense when doing your research. You can also consider whether the park is more advantageous to left or right handed hitters and compare the statistics of the teams playing there.
Of course, you should definitely look at the recent performances from the teams and players. Look at their results, see if they have been thriving or struggling, scoring heavily, and so on. While there is no guarantee that a team on a winning streak will continue it, it will give you a sense of their state of mind.
Similarly, you need to be aware of a team’s travel schedule. If a team has been travelling around the country then they are likely to be tired and it may affect their performance. Conversely, if a team has been playing all of its games at home, they are likely to be well rested and feeling comfortable.
Beyond the teams and players, you can also look at umpires. Some umpires are known to call strikes more generously than others do. If there is a great pitcher playing and the umpire is calling a loose game, then batters will struggle. This means that you may want to place the under bet as the score may be low. Of course, the opposite is also true.
In other words, there is no aspect of the sport that you should ignore. While you may not have hours to devote to research, even a quick look at the above factors should help you place bets that are better informed, which ultimately should lead to you winning more bets.