Known as “America’s pastime”, Major League Baseball is the oldest league of the four major professional sports in the United States. The MLB is over 100 years old and has become an institution that has stood the test of time, despite scandals and work stoppages.
While the sport is popular from a revenue and ratings perspective, baseball isn’t a go-to sport for the sports betting masses. Professional bettors appreciate the large number of wagering opportunities. Those that bet on football and basketball may never consider betting on the MLB. This is why MLB betting sites offer many types of bets when a baseball game is on.
They are missing out. Today’s online baseball betting sites and markets has significantly grown and options are expanding each season. MLB betting markets are potential treasure troves that many simply write off during the dog days of summer.
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MLB Betting Strategy Articles
Baseball is an old-school game, but it’s the sport that has benefited most from computer models and new age statistics. Betting opportunities for MLB bettors far dwarf any other major sport due to the long 162-game season. Combining traditional baseball knowledge with advanced metrics is the key to becoming profitable at baseball betting.
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MLB Betting Types
The proliferation of online sports betting has led to massive growth in MLB betting sites in the past decade. Most of the markets that bettors are used to will be available for MLB wagering, aside from traditional point spread wagering and teasers. Moneyline betting is the standard wager type for baseball and can be found at all the top betting sites.
- New York Yankees +140
- Boston Red Sox -150
Odds vary widely between games. In this game, the host Red Sox are moderate favorites over the visiting Yankees. It’s rare that two teams are both -110, which would signify an even matchup. A large favorite is -200, but depending on the matchup and starting pitcher, sometimes teams can be favored as high as -300.
- New York Yankees +1.5 (-155)
- Boston Red Sox -1.5 (+135)
Notice how the Red Sox now are at +135, but were moneyline favorites in our previous example.
This is because they are now laying 1.5 runs. Boston must win by two runs or more for bettors to cash their ticket. Often, one run decides the outcome of baseball games. As there are no ties in baseball, laying -1.5 is a substantial number.
Likewise, the Yankees are now -155 favorites on the run line, while they were +140 underdogs in our moneyline betting example above.
The standard run line is 1.5, but some sites may offer varying run lines with different attached odds. These are usually between 2.5 and 3.5 runs. However, many MLB betting sites do not provide alternative run lines.
- New York Yankees +140
- Over (-110) 7.0, Under (-110) 7.0
- Boston Red Sox -150
The same over and under bets with the standard -110 juice are in play here as well. The total is the combined runs of both teams. Pushes are also in play if the total doesn’t have a half-point.
The average oddsmakers’ total is 7.0 runs, but when two strong starting pitchers face off this can be at 6.5. It’s rare that bettors will see a total lower than 6.5, but sometimes it gets down to 6.0 with two elite pitchers on the mound.
Any total above 7.0 or 7.5 is above average, and many can go as high as 10-11 runs. The latter is on the extreme end. Playing at Offense-friendly ballparks lead to high totals. Ballparks include, the Rockies’ Coors Field or Yankee Stadium.
Instead of halftime or quarter lines in football, sportsbooks offer 5-inning lines, which is essentially the equivalent of a halftime bet in football.
Also, available at many MLB betting sites is the “Grand Salami” wager. This is an over/under wager on the total number of runs scored in all games played that day. This bet is also common for NHL betting.
Baseball parlays will differ from the fixed odds parlays available in other sports. While football and basketball parlays have payouts independent of a point spread or matchup, this is not the case with baseball because of the moneyline odds. Like NFL or NBA parlays, all legs must win for bettors to cash on the bet.
Betting sites use these calculations to determine parlay payouts. Basing the odds on each bet in the parlay, rather than using fixed odds. This allows bettors to get the “true odds” on their parlay bet, instead of a fixed amount based on the number of teams. This doesn’t mean bettors won’t be paying vig. Based on the odds of their selections, they calculate the parlay odds.
Baseball futures are long-term wagers that take place at a later date. The World Series or the American and National League Championships make up most baseball futures. Futures generally offer higher payouts than most other bets because there’s a large field of contenders.
MLB proposition markets are much smaller compared to the NFL and NBA but are still a viable market for savvy baseball bettors. Higher profile games, such as playoff games, will have more markets.
Most bets will be team and player props, such as the number of runs + hits + errors by one team or the number of strikeouts thrown by a pitcher and the number of hits a batter might get in a game.
The live betting craze hit baseball last, but there are a surprisingly large number of bets available for MLB live bettors.
Players can bet on the outcome of an at-bat if there will be runs scored in a particular inning, and much more. Baseball has many stoppages between live action, giving the oddsmakers plenty of time to adjust the betting odds for live betting. Live odds, including moneyline odds and totals, are also options found at MLB betting sites.
History and Season
Baseball’s roots go back to the Civil War era when baseball’s first governing body formed. Established in the 1860’s, the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) had over 300 clubs as members.
At the time, the organization was simply a collection of amateur baseball teams. Major League Baseball uses 1869 as their founding year, when the first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (modern day Cincinnati Reds) was formed.
The league had moderate popularity at the turn of the century but suffered from the Great Depression and World War II. After the war, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.
The league only had eight teams each in the National League and American League until 1953. MLB began to expand and add more franchises throughout the 1960s and 1970s as many cities were building multi-purposes stadiums for NFL and MLB.
The league now has 30 franchises across both leagues and three divisions in both the NL and AL. Teams play the vast majority of their games against teams in their respective leagues, and against divisional opponents. Interleague play was introduced in 1997 on a limited scale, but as of the 2014 season, there’s, at least, one interleague game every night of the baseball schedule.
The MLB season is 162-games, which spans over six months, not including the playoffs. This is double the amount of games played by the NHL and NBA. Spring training, which is baseball’s preseason, starts in late February. The season begins in early April and ends at the end of September while the postseason takes place in October.
The MLB has a much smaller playoff field than other sports, and it was even smaller before they introduced a second wild-card spot in 2013. Each division winner makes the playoffs plus two wild-card teams. The wild-card spots are not division dependent and simply go to the teams with the best overall records in the AL and NL.
The postseason begins with a one-game playoff between the wild-card teams. The winner then faces off against the highest seeded divisional champion in a best-of-five game series. After the Division Series has been decided, the two remaining teams from each league will face off in a best-of-seven League Championship Series.
The two winners of the AL and NL League Championship Series will face off for the championship, the World Series. This is another best-of-seven series.
Up until the World Series, home field advantage is up to seeding and regular season record. However, baseball changed their rules after the All-Star Game ended in an 11 inning, 7-7 tie in 2002.
Beginning the following year, the winning league in the All-Star Game receives the home-field advantage in the World Series.
The sport gained popularity during the Civil War, which saw Union soldiers, which were more familiar with the game, introduce it to others throughout the war, including Southerners and Westerners.
The founding year of professional baseball and Major League Baseball. The year signifies the establishment of the first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
The “Black Sox Scandal” forever changed the game. They accused eight members of the Chicago White Sox of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. They threw the World Series in exchange for money from gamblers.
World War II creates a shortage of available baseball players. At least 500 leave their franchises to serve in the military during the war. Many top players had their careers interrupted due to military service, they played baseball throughout the war.
Sports Illustrated reports that Pete Rose bet on baseball as a player on March 21, 1989. It’s the cover story in the April 1989 issue of SI. Rose currently holds the record for most hits all-time hits. Sadly, banned from baseball for betting on games as a player and manager.
With the MLB continued growth and popularity, we estimate that over $1 billion is bet on baseball at the regulated Las Vegas sportsbooks. Speculated that there is $55 billion in international wagers on baseball.
New York City men form the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club. One of them is a volunteer firefighter and bank clerk named, Alexander Joy Cartwright. He would develop the rules that became modern day baseball. This included the diamond infield, foul lines, and three-strikes rule.
His changes made the game faster than older games, such as cricket. A year later, the Knickerbockers played the first official game of baseball against a team of cricket players.
More than 400 baseball clubs were members of the “National Association of Base Ball Players.” Most clubs based out of the Northeast United States, coming from metropolitan areas.
Known as the “dead-ball era.” Baseball during this period was low scoring and dominated by pitching. Popular pitchers such as Walter Johnson and Cy Young dominated.
Baseball rose in popularity during these years. The dead ball era ended, and the New York Yankees dominated this era of baseball, led by Babe Ruth. By the end of the 1930s, they had won 8 of them.
Jackie Robinson gets called up to the Major Leagues and makes his debut on April 15, 1947. He’s the first black player to play Major League Baseball. He wins the Rookie of the Year Award that same year.
Offensive numbers went way up during these years, with many looking back now and dubbing this period, the “steroid era.” Power numbers, particularly home runs, increased.
MLB Betting Now
Baseball has made it through an endless amount of scandals, including the fixing of games and the use of steroids throughout baseball. While pace of play is still an issue that management wants to fix, the game continues to grow worldwide. The NFL has taken center stage from America’s pastime, but MLB will always have a strong following, both when it comes to to viewership and ticket sales, and betting markets.