How to Bet on Major League Baseball

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and betting on your favorite baseball team are American ideals that will be here soon. In the Spring, Summer and Fall we find sports fans all over the world getting involved in baseball, in some manner or another. The one thing that you may need is some help on how to be profitable betting baseball.

There are a lot of different ways to bet baseball, from run lines and moneylines to props and futures. You can make some big money betting on the preseason stuff in particular, as most lines are offered well above +/EV odds.

Know the Game

It helps if you know the game of baseball. Go out and get some knowledge. Not only the way the game is played but delve into the teams and their quirks. Know the positions and the opposition but one may or may not be more critical than the others. Know the pitchers. Know their abilities and weaknesses. There are 30 teams to understand and it is not an overnight thing.

Don’t jump in too fast

Take your time and get to know the lay of the land. Do it slowly with your bets to understand the winning and losing that can happen even at a slow pace. Some teams are hard to gauge at the start of a season, therefore, let things shake out a bit more before you jump in with both feet. Also, you need to practice good bankroll management. Start with low amounts to bet before you decide to bump it up. Betting on baseball can become lucrative but it is also entertaining. Assess what you want to bet by the month, by the season or the entire year and stick to a plan.

Set an amount

Maybe your betting budget for the year is $2,000. Divide that down to month and/or week. You are going to bet about $166 per month or $40 per week. If that is too much, then knock it down to maybe $1,000. Now you have a baseline. If you are betting $20 per week, look ahead at the game or games you wish to wager and stick with it. Don’t double up just to attempt to get some early losses back.

Grind it out

Yes, it is a strategy to only bet favorites. That can work, although, it doesn’t produce high yields. Mix your bets between the favorites and the underdogs. The overall basis for betting is to make money. Do your research before investing in an underdog.

Ride Ace Pitchers

While evaluating a team, check out the ace pitchers. They are likely someone you can trust. Yes, they do have an off day from time to time but they are usually trustworthy. Don’t overthink this point. Check their matchup, the umpires, the weather and other stats associated with this pitcher. This can allow for some great value if you follow the stud pitchers throughout the season.

Weather Impacts on MLB

Since I mentioned them, be sure to check the weather. It can and will affect the play of the game. Is is raining, did it rain earlier, what is the wind speeds expected to be at game, will rain creep in before the end of the contest? This and more need to be checked out prior to placing your bet. Look at the umpires. They all have stats, too. Are they a ball and strike umpire that doesn’t give the corners? Are many of their games high scoring or lowing scoring contests? Have they had prior issues with the managers or any players on the teams playing? All of these things are a consideration that is worthy of your thought before placing a wager.

Manager Tendencies Matter

Know the managers tendencies. Is he one that leaves his pitchers in too long or yanks them and first sign of trouble? Does he overuse his best relievers? During the game does he pinch hit early or is he a bunt for one run type of guy? Maybe he waits for the long ball to bail his team out. These things and more can be fruitful in decision making.

Check the Injury Report

Check the injury report to see if all the regulars are a go before you consider betting on them. Maybe a manager has decided to rest one of his stars. That can be important as his bat may be used once as a pinch hitter rather than four times during the game. Look at the righty-righty and lefty-lefty matchups that could occur and how that may affect the outcome of the game.

All Ballparks Are Different — Know the Differences

Understand how the park plays. When looking at your bet you must consider where the game is being played. Is it a home run park and do the teams have home run hitters? Is is a pitchers park that is conducive to lots of ground balls and long fly balls that stay in the stadium? These things are very vital if you are betting on the Over/Under for the contest.

Baseball Betting Types

Know and understand the different types of bets that are available to you. There are three different types of bets here to discuss.

MoneyLine

A moneyline bet is simply betting on the team that you think is going to win the game outright. This type of wager is used in practically every sport, including hockey, baseball, football, and even sports like ping pong or eGaming

You’ll see these types of bets being offered as three- or four-digit numbers, preceded by a plus or minus sign. Log in to your favorite betting site, and this is what you’ll see.

  • Chicago Cubs -130
  • Cleveland Indians +120

These lines indicate Chicago is the favorite to win this game, being offered at -130 odds. The favorite to win the game outright will almost always be offered as a minus sign (-) followed by a number. 

The Cleveland Indians, in this case, are the underdog, being offered at +120 odds. When it comes to the moneyline, the underdog will no matter what always be offered as a plus sign (+) followed by a number.

The (-) number, in this case, Chicago -130, means you have to bet $130 to win $100. The (+) number, Indians +120, means if you bet $100, you will win $120.

In some cases, when games are too close to predict, bookmakers will offer both teams at (+) odds. You don’t see this often, but if the game is a very popular game that a lot of people are wagering on, you will notice the moneylines fluctuating over time. 

This usually happens when a majority of bets are coming in on one side compared to the other. In this example, if seven or eight out of 10 people are taking the Indians +120, you will see the line decrease over time. 

The line offered for the Cubs will increase, so the lines are moving towards each other.

You can use fractional odds or decimal odds as well, depending on where you live or which style you prefer. +120 odds = 2.20 = 6/5. The 2.20 are European odds, and the 6/5 are fractional odds. +120 is American odds.

Betting the Total

The total is the set amount of runs scored in the game. This is where the over and under comes into play. In this case, we’ll use 8.5 as our run total.

  • OVER 8.5 runs
  • UNDER 8.5 runs

If you think the Cubs and Indians will score more than 8.5 combined runs, then you would bet the over 8.5 runs in this case. If you think the total between the two teams will be less than 8.5, then you would bet the under 8.5 runs.

Bookmakers decide the run total based on a variety of factors. Things like weather, trends, and stats help them determine what to offer the total at. For example, if both the Cubs and Indians have been hitting lights out, the run total will most likely be in the double digits. 

If both teams have been struggling to score in recent games or pitching extremely well, the run total will be lower, probably around 6.5 runs or less.

Betting the Run Line

The run line is the baseball version of the point spread used in football and basketball. You will see one team with a +1.5 next to it and the other with a -1.5 next to it. The 1.5 value never changes, no matter what.

  • Chicago Cubs -1.5 +180
  • Cleveland Indians +1.5 -170

This indicates the Indians are more likely to lose by one run or win the game outright. The Cubs have to win by two runs or more for your bet to win. 

The run line works like a traditional point spread, except it’s always a standard value of 1.5 in baseball.

Betting the First 5

You can bet on the first five innings in baseball as well. This is equivalent to betting the first half in sports like football, soccer, and basketball. 

This can be a very valuable option in baseball, as some teams can take a while to get things moving. In 2019, the Astros were a cash machine in terms of taking them in the first five innings

Houston’s offense was very productive, and almost always got off to a hot start. Say the Astros are playing the Yankees

If you know the Yankees are starting their worst pitcher, but know they have great relief pitching, you might want to take the Astros in the first five innings, but also place a bet on the Yankees to win the full game.

Preseason Props

These are bets you can place ahead of the season. These types of wagers usually offer really good odds that can make you a lot of money. 

There are a ton of preseason props from the over/under on season win totals to who will win the World Series. Different books offer different props and odds, so be sure to shop around.

Futures in Major League Baseball

A future bet can be a good choice. This is not an immediate bet as it is long term. The oddsmakers will say, for example, that the Cardinals will win 84 games in a particular season. They do this for every team. You may want to bet they will go over the 84 win total or under 84. Then when the season is over bets are paid out.

Futures bet include who are the leaders for each award such as the Cy Young award. Odds are assigned and you decide if you like them or not. There are many, many futures bets out there. Find one that fits your research and liking to wager on it.

In conclusion, be prepared and do your due diligence before placing your bet. Understand the game and pay attention to all of the nuances it has. Do these things and betting baseball can be entertaining and profitable for the bettor. Good luck!