How to bet on baseball

How to bet on baseball

Publication date: 09/08/2022

When you place your baseball bets online, you will have a wide variety of markets to choose from. The most popular baseball markets for sports betting are explained by Match.Center right here.

Some people say that baseball’s the most boring sport on the planet with batters struck out 70% of the time and MLB games being over 3 hours long. However, it becomes a totally different sport when you bet on it, just wait until you lose a sure Runline bet in the bottom of the ninth inning against a Grand Slam!

In this baseball betting guide at Match.Center we will show you not only tips and tricks, but also go through the numbers that you’ll need to get into baseball wagering. You’ll find out how to bet on baseball along with: reading odds, types of bets, stats and sources you need, looking at run line bets, parlays, props and much more.

Understanding Baseball betting, Most Common MLB Bets

The main thing that you need to remember about MLB betting is this famous quote:

Томас Босвелл

Thomas Boswell

More than any other American sport, baseball creates the magnetic, addictive illusion that it can almost be understood.

In this guide, we will look into the most common types of bets, where to find betting value, and we will describe some of the more exotic wagers such as strikeouts O/U, and also fun bets like "Grand Salami". In the Strategies and Tips sections, we'll show you the sources who have the numbers to provide you with some really good baseball betting advice.

But please, PLEASE, always remember Thomas Boswell's quote: the day that you think you crack the baseball open should be the day that you place no bets at all. Why? Because the best way to bet on baseball is to analyse the games having respect for the complexity of the game in the first place. Take nothing for granted.

For starters, we will cover common types of markets offered by betting sites, and then we'll give some advice about how to use them in your sports betting routine in order to bet on MLB games properly. This will not be professional sports betting advice, but you can be sure you will know more than average baseball bettors.

Usually, you can legally bet on MLB games online, but it all comes down to where you live and what the laws are in that jurisdiction.

Moneyline in Baseball

Moneyline bets are the most common bets on a baseball game: It is simply who will win? Making straightforward Moneyline bets is so simple partly because there are no draws in MLB games. There is no extra time either, and therefore there's only one final score. The team that has more runs scored at the end of the day wins a Moneyline bet for you.

Usually what happens is that you will look at starting pitching matchup and think that you have a general understanding of the chances of each team. Well that's just not true.

The strongest MLB teams rarely win more than 60%-70% of the regular season games, and weakest teams win at least 30%.

Baseball Spread Bets

Points spread bets are also called Runline bets. Before the game, one team is given the advantage of 1.5 runs to balance the Moneyline odds. If you bet on a favourite, the wager wins if he wins with a 2-run advantage, covering a spread. And the underdog has to lose no more than 1 run for your +1.5 bet to win.

Unlike in basketball betting, the majority of wagers placed on MLB games do not involve a point spread. And we think that this type of bet is underestimated and can be used to your advantage.

Totals and Over/Unders

Baseball totals bets seem attractive when you think that two teams can in some way "compensate" each other's luck: where one hitter reaches home, the other will be tagged and out. And you have steady +1 runs count no matter what team you're pulling for.

Usually, Over/Under is dancing along 7,5 to 10,5 runs to be scored, depending on pitching matchups and attack strength. And usually, starting pitchers are overrated when a betting site evaluates this number.

Also, you can bet on individual O/U runs for each team, the typical run line is around 4,5 or 5,5 runs.

Combo Bets: Winner+Total Runs

You do not find this type of MLB bet on every sports betting site, but our advice is that you really try to do this and do your research on online sportsbooks to find it. Because that is the kind of bet on baseball you will use rather often to your advantage.

Many MLB games have a clear favourite, but the Moneyline, Runline and O/U betting markets are usually well-balanced on sports betting sites.

If you have a clear prediction of the outcome, but do not like baseball odds for the winner or total runs scored, with this bet you can get the best from both worlds. Because when betting on a baseball combo, you'll see not only higher odds but also a very good runs total offered.

For example, in the Astros VS Athletics baseball game the total runs scored line is around 9,5. You think that it will be probably "Over", but you aren't sure. But in the "Combo" section you will probably see "Astros win & Runs Over 7,5". And that is 2 runs better if you are really sure about the money line winner.

Baseball Grand Salami

In baseball, the Grand Salami is when the team scores a Grand Slam - a perfect 4-run homerun with bases loaded. This is always a highlight of the evening.

The problem is that there is only 1 Grand Slam hit for every 30 games played in MLB. Betting baseball "Grand Salami" is entertaining, and you will be over the top if you win, but there's no practical advice that will help to master when it will happen.

Prop Bets

Prop bets are individual game bets on a players' performance, not connected with the outcome of the game. In Major League Baseball games you can usually bet on:

  • How many strikeouts the starting pitcher will make
  • Will the player hit a homerun
  • Will the player reach home more/less than X times

With around 30% hitting success rate it is really difficult to predict a homerun, but the strikeouts market can be more lucrative. Betting sites are compiling an O/U line based on general performance stats. And those can greatly vary when a pitcher faces a particular lineup in a particular game. How do we find the value? Go to https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/ Baseball Savant Probable Pitchers page and look into historical stats of the pitcher against the exact lineup he's facing tonight. If there are clear differences between general stats and the performance of hitters he'll face - that is your chance. The whiff rate is a term, usually used in reference to pitchers, that divides the number of pitches swung at and missed by the total number of swings in a given sample. If the whiff rate is high, you should probably bet on "Over" and vice versa.

Stats of the pitcher against the exact lineup

Stats of the pitcher against the exact lineup

Live Bets

In baseball, live betting markets and live odds are not as live as in other sports. There can be no action for half an hour straight! But it gives MLB bettors time to get prepared and - yes, as usual - crawl through numerous stats.

The best live bet is "Total runs in the X inning is Under 0.5" for the second and third innings. Why can't you place it pre-match? Because sometimes the first inning is a shaky one: the pitcher faces the strongest opposition from the upper part of the lineup. So you have to watch the first inning closely. And if pitchers pull out strong performances - it's time to bet. Because if he's good and steady and feels his arm and Ks hitters one by one, he'll probably will give little chances to weaker hitters from the bottom of the lineup.

Futures

For most sports, our advice is that you rarely bet on the team you are pulling for. But baseball futures are a different story. At the start of the season, every team has a chance (Except for the Tigers maybe!). So making an outright bet on a team you really love watching is a far better strategy than trying to count chances. Besides, future wagers have odds that are based on the past-season performance and never make sense at all before June.

Not every team is a World Series contender, but every team can win a single Wildcard game and shine in October play-offs. (Again, except for the Tigers!)

Baseball Betting Strategies and Tactics

Betting on baseball is all about numbers, and baseball betting fans discuss which of them are more or less critical in endless debates. Especially during Winter, eagerly waiting for a new MLB season to begin.

There are countless tables, stats, splits, and levels of data discussed during these weeklong online holy wars! For starters, try visiting https://www.baseballprospectus.com/ and https://www.fangraphs.com/ - two of the most famous community sites.

It is very probable that you'll start with an analysis of the pitcher. Because he's a real star on the mound, a one-against-the-world-hero figure. And because it's rather simple: you'll have to combine only about 10 row stats, which is a very humble task for a baseball betting fan. We already mentioned a Baseball Savant site, and that is really the best place to preview Major League Baseball games from a pitcher's perspective.

But you should keep in mind that there are at least three additional factors before placing a bet on any MLB games:

  • Attack
  • Bullpen
  • Management

Attack

Hitting power can be evaluated by the number of runs scored on average. If a team scores 5+ its hitters are very good at creating chances and moving runners along the bases. Keep in mind that starting from 2022 season the Universal DH rule is implemented, and therefore the attack in National League games is no weaker than in the American League.

Bullpen

Relief pitchers change the starting pitcher when his hand had enough work, usually, in the 5th-6th inning (there are 9 innings total FYI). They can save a lead, but they can ruin a game completely as well.

This factor becomes more and more critical for a pre-match analysis because in the latest MLB seasons starting pitchers tend to work fewer innings into the game.

Management

The quality of management decisions is hard to judge sometimes, but in general, the more stable the team is, the better the chances are that it will survive in a deciding moment. You can have insight by looking into extra innings stats: there are some MLB teams that are incredibly good at winning in extras (Yankees) and also those unlucky ones (surprisingly, it's the 2022 Dodgers).

Where to look for the numbers? For game previews, choose between two sites. American Covers has a great 'Probable pitchers' page that has a lot of useful info aggregated in a sleek and modern manner. But if you want to dig real deep, go to Baseball-Reference. This one is an ugly boomer site, but it has ALL the data you'll EVER need starting from the Dead Ball Era.

Team Summary

Team Summary

Baseball betting tricks for Beginners

Sports betting is hard, so on Match.Center we always say that you most probably won't beat the bookies in the long run. But here are some tips on how to bet on baseball games, that at least will make your hobby bets reasonable and fair. And sometimes really good.

Have Patience

Do not open a previews page feeling that you MUST find a wager no matter what. That means that you probably have a gambling problem!

The MLB season is the longest among all professional sports: it begins in March, the Division play-offs start in October and the World Series is played in November. More than 2400 games are played each season, and each team has its ups and downs. Having 7 to 15 games daily pushes you to make lots of bets, and you will often struggle to find value bets that way. Sometimes even on a perfect 15 game night there's nothing of interest to bet on.

Betting on the favourite, choose -1.5 Runline

That way you'll get significantly better odds. And what are the chances that a better team will win not one run ahead but at least two? Choosing a Runline bet usually means a boost of 0,6-0,9 compared with Moneyline (i.e. from 1.65 to 2.1). Take your time at betting sites to find the really strong hitting favourites and good Runline odds.

Mind the favourite odds

When reading American odds, keep in mind that "minus" odds are counterintuitive for a European punter. '-180' is actually LESS than '-150'. It means you need to wager a $180 to win $100 as opposed to betting $150 to win $100.

Best parlay bet is no parlay bet

Betting on baseball is difficult enough even when you stick to old good singles. Do you remember what we said before about even great teams losing a third of their games in the regular MLB season? That means that baseball parlays (or accumulators) make no sense at all.

And never bet on Colorado!

This team plays in a peculiar ballpark - the high-altitude Coors Field. In the thin air, the batted balls fly further. The outfield on Coord is the biggest in all MLB, but there are still a lot of home runs and a very, very difficult fielding.

If you ignore that and only look at the numbers, the Rockies offence always looks divine and the pitchers seem a-holes. And then the team comes to another ballpark and everything changes. Rockies literally become a different squad knowing that every other ballpark is different.

So, seriously, no matter what baseball betting tips you get, do not bet on Colorado ever!

Clinch to 1-5 inning O/U bets

You'll be furious when your "Under 8.5 Total Runs " bet busts just because the losing team threw away their chances and put the worst reliever in baseball history on the mound in the 8th. The score quickly went from 1-5 to 1-8 and no one seems to care.

So when betting over under in baseball, remember that predicting the quality of play for the first five innings is much easier when both squads fight and starting pitchers are fresh.

Start watching MLB games online

This tip is not about live betting, but mainly about involvement. To bet on MLB games you'll have to love the game itself. And that is a much easier task if you watch games with great American commentary (always learning), whilst also monitoring live odds, because why not?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is +1.5 in baseball bet?

+1.5 bet is a Handicap bet on the underdog team. They also call it a Runline bet. This bet wins if your team lose by no more than 1 run (covers the spread) or if your team wins.

What are the best bets to make on baseball?

On this Match.Center page we outlined a few good tips for baseball betting markets, including live betting and tips for your next futures bet.

Is baseball the easiest sport to bet on?

As with any other intellectual challenge, sports betting is hard. And betting on baseball is very hard. Understanding baseball betting in general is not a problem. But there's a common illusion that the more numbers you have, the better your analysis is. In baseball, you really do have lots of numbers that confuse you rather than help. The stats extravaganza forces bettors to dig deeper and deeper... for sports bettors figuring out what is important and what doesn't matter is quite a skill to master.

Andrew Heaford

Site Manager