Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the US and the main league is the MLB. Major League Baseball, or MLB, has been running since 1876, which makes it the oldest major professional league in sports. 30 teams play in the league and are divided into the National League and American League. The leagues each have 3 divisions and play a total of 162 games throughout the regular season. These seasons last from late Autumn through to Spring, and each season concludes with the playoffs. The playoffs are held in 4 rounds, starting from the Wild Card Series and going through to the World Series.
With so many games packed into each season, there is no shortage of betting possibilities. Betting on baseball is not limited to simply picking which team will win. There are many types of bets that you can try out, including bets with some extremely lengthy odds.
Different Baseball Bets
MLB is the main league in baseball and therefore you will find ample coverage of all MLB games. Good game coverage can only mean more betting markets. With hyped fixtures, you will tend to find even more bets on offer with fantastic prices. However, to start with, here are the basic baseball bets you should know:
- First 5 Innings
- Live Bets
Having a keen knowledge of baseball will certainly be an advantage. If you watch MLB games frequently or know the clubs, you will have a slightly better edge. This can also be done with research, but the criteria you will need to look up will be slightly different for each bet.
This bet differs from the other markets on this list. Outrights relate to events that will only be determined at the end of the regular season or the end of the season. The main outright bet is which team will win the World Series. You will find odds given for all 30 teams in the league and will simply have to pick which one will become the next champion. There may also be outright such as MVP of the season, whether a team will make the playoffs, which division will the World Series winner hail from, and other bets.
Outrights will be available both before the start of a season and once the season is in play. Once the season starts, the odds on each team will change after every round, to represent their chances at that period in time. As a rule of thumb, the longest odds on the favourites are usually best before the season begins.
A moneyline is a bet on the winner of a single game. If the Toronto Blue Jays face the Boston Red Sox, you can bet on the Blue Jays to win or on the Red Sox to win. The team that has the shorter odds will be the favourite to win.
A runline is the baseball equivalent of a point spread. Basically, the bookmaker calculates the margin of runs that would separate the teams and this number of points is applied to either team's scores. The favourites will have the margin of runs subtracted from their final score and the underdogs will be given a boost of that number of runs. This balances the two teams and so the odds will be level (or as close as it can to level) on either team.
For example, in a game between the New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds, the runline may be
- New York Yankees -1.5 at odds 1.9
- Cincinnati Reds +1.5 at odds 1.9
The bookmaker has put a margin of 1.5 runs between the teams. If you bet on the Yankees to win, you will require them to beat the Reds by 2 runs or more. If you bet on the Reds to win, then they should either win the game or they can lose, but only by 1 run.
As a side note, there may be more runlines to explore. These take the same concept of adding or subtracting runs from your chosen team's final score. However, you will find that there are far more betting lines to pick from and you can pick from bets with some extremely lengthy odds.
For example, if you bet on the Yankees to win and apply a handicap of -2.5 then you will need the Yankees to win by 3 or more runs. This is far riskier than the bet on the Yankees to win with -1.5 but in return, it comes with far longer odds.
If you bet on the Reds to win and apply a handicap of +2.5 then this will drastically reduce the risk. The only way this bet can lose is if the Yankees beat the Reds by 3 runs or more, so you have a much better chance of winning. As the risk decreases, so do the odds – so this bet will come at far shorter odds than if you bet on the Reds to win with +1.5.
Totals are bets that are not affected by which team wins the game. Instead, they are related to how many runs are made during the game. In the total runs market, you will find each bet has a betting line. This may be a line of 7.5, 8.5, 9.5 and so on. For each line, there is a bet for over and a bet for under. If you bet over, you will need the game to finish with a number of runs above the betting line. A bet for under will require the game to finish with a number of runs under the line.
You may find numerous betting lines, each with bets for over and under. When you define a big range (in terms of the line) then you will have more chance of winning but the odds will be shorter. On the other hand, closing the range will result in drastically longer odds but you will play at a far higher risk.
If we say that the average runs per game for a team is 4-4.5, then betting over a line of 6.5 in a game will come at short odds. This is because there is a great chance of it happening. A bet on the teams scoring under 6.5 runs will come at extremely long odds as the statistic shows they should score well above that line.
First 5 Innings
With this bet, you will have to pick the winner after the first 5 innings. Unlike moneylines, there is also a possibility of the teams finishing level after the first 5 innings, which means the bet is pushed. A push will result in your bet being refunded, so you will not lose any money. The odds on the first 5 innings are similar to moneylines, but they may come at slightly shorter odds. This is because you can get your money back if the teams are tied after 5 innings, which you can take as some kind of insurance.
With props, your baseball knowledge will be invaluable. These wagers can relate to all sorts of events that may or may not happen during a game. You may find wagers for strikeouts, bases, hits, runs, errors, and lots of other stats for both teams and individual players. Most props use the over/under format – which works in the same way as total runs.
Some of the most popular player props in baseball are:
- a pitcher to make over/under a number of strikeouts
- a pitcher to record over/under a number of outs
- a player to make over/under a number of bases
- a player to make over/under a number of hits
- a player to make over/under a number of RBIs
Not all props use the over/under format. There may be bets that pitch the two sides against each other. These can include options such as which team will hit the most home runs, which team will score first, which team will reach 2 runs first, and various similar betting markets.
Props may vary from game to game. Generally, the props are made available on the day of a game and so you will only be able to make them in the hours preceding the event. In any case, it is always useful to check out what wagers are on offer before a game as you may find some excellent picks.
Live betting is extremely popular and for good reason too. These wagers can be placed at any time during a game, and they are offered with live odds. The odds will constantly change throughout the course of a game and so to find the optimum price, you should always try to place your bets as early as possible. All the standard pregame betting markets will be available as live bets. If you want to bet a moneyline, total runs, runline, or any other type of bet, you will have no problems.
Live betting also opens the possibility to bet on events that you may not find in pregame markets. There may be bets on what will happen in the following inning, which will require you to make some quick decisions. As only one team can score at a time in baseball, its live betting is quite unique. Good knowledge of the bullpens is crucial, as it can determine what will happen during the course of the game.
Knowing all the types of bets on offer will give you a great advantage when wagering on MLB games. Whilst there is no way of knowing which bets will win, you can always experiment with your bets. You may find that you have more luck predicting the total runs or winner after the first 5 innings than you do with other bets.
Props are also highly useful, but only if you know what you are doing. If you have extensive knowledge of the teams and their players, then you will be able to spot good offers. Props can also be researched, as there is plenty of statistical information that you can use to determine how likely the bets are to come through.
When looking for your bets, always remember that the best bet is no bet. It is better to save your money for a wager that has a stronger opportunity of winning than one with extremely long odds. However, the decision is yours at the end of the day. You may get lucky and win a massive sum of money, and it would certainly give your bragging rights amongst your peers. Last but not least, remember that anything can happen so spend only within your financial means and enjoy the games.
Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.