Baseball is regarded as one of the most popular sports betting markets. Since there are thousands of matches to bet on during the season, it’s a great opportunity to make money.
Assuming you know how the sport of baseball works to keep the intro as short as possible, let’s jump straight into how to bet on baseball.
The moneyline is betting on the team who you think is going to win. In each match, there will a team considered the ‘favorite’ to win, with the other being the ‘underdog’.
Here’s an example of betting odds of a game between the Rockies and the Rangers:
The favorite for this match is the Rangers, indicated by the ‘-‘ sign next to the betting odds. Favorite odds show how much you have to bet to win $100.
Likewise, the underdog for this match is the Rockies, indicated by the ‘+’ sign next to the betting odds. Underdog odds show you how you would win from a $100 bet.
This is the same across all sports but in baseball, it works a little differently.
Baseball odds change significantly based on the starting pitchers. If they change before the game starts, the betting odds will follow suit.
Moneyline bets are either action bet or listed bets.
If you have placed an action bet, it remains in play even if the pitchers change. Your bet will also take on the new betting odds.
If you have placed a listed bet, it is no longer in play if the pitchers change.
If you decide to bet on the runline, you are going to need more advanced knowledge of baseball. But with this comes the potential for higher value.
Betting on the baseball runline is the MLB equivalent of the betting the spread in the NFL. It is a handicap that that either the home team or away team must cover for a bet to win.
The favorite will start with a 1.5 run disadvantage while the underdog starts with a 1.5 run advantage.
Let’s bring back the previous example:
To win a runline bet on the Rangers, they need to beat the Rockies by 2 runs or more. If they lose or win by a single run, you lose the bet.
To win a runline bet on the Rockies, they must either win or lose by a single run. If they lose by 2 or more, you lose the bet.
Generally speaking, the runline in baseball allows bettors to see if there is value from the bet.
This is determined by converting the odds into a probability of winning. This can be represented as the following formula:
Probability of Winning = (Risk/Return) * 100%
First, subtract the odds from one another and dividing this number by the number of potential outcomes. In this case, it’s either win or lose, so:
(-180-160) / 2 = -340/2 = -170
We now apply the this to the previous percentage chance of winning formula to suggest how likely it is that the Rangers will win on the runline:
Percentage Chance of Winning = (100/260) * 100% = 38.46%.
If you believe that there is a higher chance of the Rangers winning, you should take this bet.
Totals Baseball Betting
Totals baseball betting refers to betting on the total number of runs scored in a game. The bookmakers will set a line and you bet on if there will be over/under this number.
Here’s the same game as before but highlighting the totals betting odds:
In this example, if you are betting the over, you are betting that both teams will combine to score more than 12 runs.
If you are betting on the under, you are betting that both teams will combine to score less than 12 runs.
In the event that there is exactly 12 runs scored, the bet pushes and you have your stake refunded.
Sometimes the totals odds will be over/under half a run eg over/under 12.5 runs. In this case, there is no push scenario.
Futures are bets on something that will happen later in the season. In the MLB, the most common futures is betting on who will win the World Series.
The benefit of futures is that a successful bet results in a large payoff. Here’s an example:
Most futures are placed at the beginning of the season. As more and more games play out, people start getting a sense of who’s playing well, creating favorites that shorten the odds.
So, while in this example, the Red Sox are considered early season favorites at +600, if they go on to dominate the East, their odds will shorten throughout the season.
With this in mind, if they don’t perform well during the regular season and their odds drift, there is scope to find some value when it comes to playoff time.
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Baseball Betting Factors
In terms of offense, ie the hitters, you should investigate the batting line up. There are several statistics that help determine if a team has a good offense, mainly through:
PA – Plate Appearances
This is the number of completed batting appearances.
AB – At Bat
A hitter is credited with an ‘at bat’ only if that plate appearance does not receive any of the following:
- Receiving a base on balls (BB)
- Being hit by a pitch (HBP).
- Hitting a sacrifice fly or a sacrifice bunt (also known as sacrifice hit).
- Awarded first base due to interference or obstruction, usually by the catcher.
- Replaced by another hitter before his at bat is completed, in which case the plate appearance and any related statistics go to the pinch hitter.
WOBA – Weighted On-Base Average
This measure a player’s overall offensive contributions per plate appearance.
OBP – On-Base Percentage
This is the number of hits plus base on balls plus hit by pitch, divided by, the number of at bats plus walks plus hit by pitch plus sacrifice flies, ie
BA – Batting Average
This is the number of hits divided by at bat, ie
ISO – Isolated Power
This is the hitter’s ability to hit for extra bases, calculated by subtracting their batting average from their slugging percentage.
In terms of defense, you need to be aware of any changes to the starting pitcher.
Like the offense, there are certain stats to be aware of such as:
IP – Innings Pitched
This is the number of outs a team gets, while a pitcher is pitching, divided by 3.
WHIP – Walks Plus Hits per Innings Pitched
This is the average number of walks and hits allowed by the pitcher per inning.
ER – Earned Runs
This is the number of runs that did not occur because of errors or passed balls.
ERA – Earned Run Average
This is the total number of earned runs multiplied by 9, divided by innings pitched, ie
WAR – Wins Above Replacement
This is the number of additional wins his team has achieved above the number of expected team wins if that player were substituted with a replacement-level player
Since baseball is an outdoor sport, it is subject to the weather. The result of a match may be determined by the day’s conditions.
For starters, when there is high humidity, the air is lighter, enabling the pitcher to throw the ball faster and further. On the other hand, in low humidity, the air is denser, making it more difficult for the ball to travel. This also affects the distance the ball can travel off the bat.
Overall temperature affects baseball just as much as humidity. In the cold weather, some pitchers may lose feel of the ball due to numb hands. On the other hand, hot weather may cause the ball harder to grip due to sweat.
Wind speed can also be a factor for more obvious reasons. The stronger the wind, the more the ball’s direction is affected. For example, a wind that favors the direction of the hitters will make the ball go further.
The size of the stadium can be a deciding factor when betting on baseball matches. Larger stadiums will have larger fields, meaning a greater surface area for the pitching team to cover but less chance of conceding a home run.
There is also home-field advantage to consider. Here’s a chart from Neosmart that shows the away effect in baseball. It’s based on:
(Away Wins – Home Wins) / Home Wins
There are so many factors that come into play when betting on baseball, from the advanced stats to deciding whether a team will cover the spread.
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