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MLB Betting Explained
MLB Betting is enjoyable because it’s such a long season with so many games happening on a daily basis. You’ll find a number of betting markets for baseball, including run lines, moneylines, totals, first inning, parlays, props, and futures.
Each game has a run line, which is a standard of 1.5 runs. The favorite is -1.5, which means that they must win by two or more runs, while the underdog is +1.5, so they can either win outright or lose by one. You can also bet the run line on the first five innings, but it’s usually at -0.5 or +0.5.
The moneyline is where you choose a team to win the game and the winning margin doesn’t matter. The favorite has minus odds, so you risk more than your winnings, while the underdog is plus money, meaning you win more than your stake. You can even bet the moneyline in the first five innings. It could be different than the full game odds because the starting pitchers matter more on this type of wager.
The total is where you bet Over or Under the projected points for the game, five innings, or team totals. For example, I can bet on the Over 7.5 in the Cardinals and Brewers game. I can also go with the Over 4 runs on the first five innings and Over 3.5 for the Cardinals team total.
If you want your bet settled quickly, you can target the first inning market. The most popular of which is where you bet yes or no on whether a run will be scored in the first inning. You can also select other options like picking a team to win or tie. Some sportsbooks even allow you to bet on how many runs are scored.
You can opt to bet on parlays if you want to shoot for a higher payout. These are combinations of two or more bet types that can give you a greater profit, depending on the odds of each leg and how many selections are within the wager. You need to win each of the picks in order for your parlay to hit.
There are several props to choose from MLB. These are player or team-based outcomes where you bet Over or Under. An example of a player prop can be Shohei Ohtani Over 6.5 strikeouts. A team prop could be Toronto Blue Jays Over 6.5 hits. There are even longshot props that have their own moneylines, such as Mike Trout at +350 to hit a home run.
Futures are bets that are settled at the end of the season. They can relate to both player and team performance. An example of a player futures is Walker Buehler to win the NL Cy Young. A team futures can be the Toronto Blue Jays to win the World Series. You can even bet Over or Under on a futures pick, such as Bryce Harper to hit Over 35.5 home runs.
Baseball Betting Tips
You need to establish a strategy for targeting each of these bet types. Below you’ll find the best way to approach baseball betting.
The favorite usually has plus odds on run lines, so this is the best way to go with this bet type. You don’t want to be risking more money on an underdog to lose by one or win outright — it’s better to just target the moneyline in that scenario.
When deciding on a favorite, you want to choose a team in a good spot against an exploitable starting pitcher and/or opposing bullpen. It’s a bonus if your selection has a strong offense that can pour on runs.
Most baseball games have winning margins of more than one run, so if you like a team to win the game, chances are that they’ll cover the run line as well.
An alternative approach would be to go with the reverse run line on an underdog, which can offer a higher payout. If you like an underdog to win, it’s a good idea to sprinkle some fractional units on the reverse run line.
To sum it up, target favorites or reverse run lines and stay away from the +1.5 picks.
When targeting moneyline bets, you want to steer clear of heavy favorites because you’ll need to risk a lot more than your potential winnings, which is a losing strategy in the long run. You’d need to hit at a high rate in order to be profitable that way.
Instead, if you like a favorite, find another one to pair it with in a parlay. This way, you’ll reduce your risk and turn the minus moneyline into plus odds.
Baseball has a 162-game season, so even the worst teams are going to win 50+ games. This means that there are numerous opportunities for you to hit on an underdog.
There are two ways to approach betting on underdogs. The first one is to just take the superior team that is underpriced because of their pitching disadvantage. For example, the Yankees may be +120 underdogs against the Guardians because it’s Jordan Montgomery against Shane Bieber. You can exploit how Cleveland is overpriced here due to their starter.
Another method would be to take an undervalued road team with a superior pitcher but an inferior overall record. For example, the Marlins could be +110 underdogs with Sandy Alcantara, facing the Cardinals with Steven Matz. It could be a good idea to go with Miami in that scenario.
We can also reduce our risk by sticking with the first five innings on the moneyline. The worst feeling in baseball betting is when you correctly handicap the pitching matchup, only to see your team’s lead blown by the bullpen. When taking the first five moneyline, you help mitigate this risk.
The first thing to do when targeting totals is to search for a misprice with the number. If you feel that a total is too low, you want to go with the Over and vice versa for the Under.
A good way to do this is look at a team’s stats vs righties and lefties. If they hit lefties well and that pitcher is struggling recently, it may be a good spot for the Over. The opposite is true for the Under.
You can also consider weather conditions. For example, if the wind is blowing in at Wrigley Field in Chicago, you’ll find that the total looks lower than usual. This is a good spot for the Under because runs could be tough to come by.
Another factor is the ballpark, as there are both hitter’s and pitcher’s parks. You can expect more offense in the former and less in the latter. However, sometimes the total is inflated because of this. For example, we could see a poor pitching matchup in Oakland but a low 7.5-run total.
Likewise, we could see a potential pitcher’s duel with a 9-run total in Boston. Try to look to exploit this when betting on totals. As with moneylines, you can also opt to go with first five-inning totals to avoid losing your bet because of a bullpen blow-up.
First inning bets are great because they’re settled so quickly. The first thing you should do is decided if you want to bet yes or no on whether a run will be scored. I like to target no-run first inning (NRFI) because it’s easier to project, but be careful because sometimes the moneyline gets inflated for this side.
This is why it’s not always a good idea to target two aces faces off against each other, since you’d be risking a lot on -160 or even lower odds. You can find nice value on two pitchers who aren’t notable names.
You want to choose starters who have good control along with the ability to rack up whiffs. Stats like strikeout-to-walk ratio, swinging-strike rate, and called-strike-whiff rate are helpful in this regard.
If you are targeting yes-run first inning (YRFI), go after pitchers with high home run and walk rates. This is because they’ll have trouble locating their pitches and your bet could hit with one swing of the bat.
I’d steer clear of other first-inning wagers, like choosing the team to win in the first because they’re too difficult to predict.
Find your favorite bets and combine them in a parlay. A good way to do this is to choose a few heavy favorites to lower your risk. For example, if I took the Dodgers to win at -300, I’d be risking $300 to win $100. However, if I combined them with the Blue Jays at -200 and Yankees at -250, I’d have a $100 stake with a $180 payout.
Instead of going with underdogs in a longshot bet, I’d prefer to combine several props to create a Same Game Parlay. If you think a team is going to hit a pitcher hard, you can put together a combination of total base bets. I would focus on players that hit at the top of the order because they’re likely to get more plate appearances.
For example, if I think the Dodgers are going to hit Madison Bumgarner hard, I could combine Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman Over total bases.
The key is to choose correlated outcomes and create a potential game script based on what you project. In this case, if the Dodgers hit Bumgarner, it’s likely that their top bats are getting the job done.
Strikeout props are my favorite to target here because you’re able to take a look at a pitcher’s ability to rack up whiffs versus an opposing lineup’s tendencies to go down swinging. If a team and pitcher both have high strikeout rates but the total is lower than it should be, you target the Over. You can go with the Under if the opposite is true.
I also like to go with Overs on total base props, but be careful because walks don’t count. Therefore, you want to limit your picks to players with 0.5 as their total as opposed to 1.5. Try to find undervalued hitters who look to be on a hot streak. It’s also a good idea to pick players who don’t walk as much.
If you’re riding with the Under, try to choose a hitter who is mired in a slump or that strikes out often. It could also be a sneaky play to pick someone with good plate discipline because they can stay Under while still having a good game if they get on base through walks.
Futures bets require your money to be tied up for several months since they’re settled at the end of the season. This means that it’s a good idea to focus your selections on underpriced longshots as opposed to Over or Under on their stats since both sides usually have -110 odds in that case.
An example of this would be Byron Buxton winning AL MVP this season. Earlier in the offseason, he was mispriced at 50-to-1 odds. By the time the season started, his moneyline had fallen to +1400. That’s an example of terrific closing line value that you can get if you act quickly.
In this case, since it’s a longshot bet, not only are you risking less of your funds, but the payout is higher, which justifies having your money locked in until the season concludes.
How We Make Our MLB Best Bets
These are the steps we go through in selecting our MLB Best Bets:
- Take a look at each team’s recent performance
- Examine the batting order for that given game
- Check their stats on offense and in the bullpen
- Analyze the pitching matchup
- Shop around sportsbooks to find the best value
- See how the market is reacting to opening lines
- Focus on hot-hitting players if taking hitting props
- Read up on weather conditions because cold temperatures mean lower offense
- Search for players or teams who are mispriced by the market
MLB Betting Picks
The betting picks that you see at The Game Day come from actual sportsbooks and are consistently updated to reflect any line movement.
For example, if the Red Sox-Blue Jays total was at 9 but has moved to 8.5, you’ll see that changed on our end.
Our MLB Odds page does the heavy lifting for you, searching across sportsbooks to find the best possible line for your preferred selection.
You’ll find everything you need on this page, so be sure to make it a staple of your MLB betting process.
How to Place an MLB Bet
It’s easy to place an MLB bet, just follow these steps:
- Determine your preferred bet type and potential wager
- Examine the Odds Comparison tool to find the best value
- Click the icon to access the sportsbook with that line
- Register for an account or sign in if you’re an existing user
- Make sure to click our “Get Bonus" link or use our promo code on a new site or app
- Type in your stake on your bet slip
- Place your bets!