Baseball Betting 101

Betting on Baseball 101

The full baseball season begins this week and if you are a new bettor, here are some tips to maximizing your performance at picking winners.

1)Study the Pitchers. It’s tougher early in the season, because you have to look at last year’s stats. Don’t go overboard about spring training numbers for pitchers, because they don’t mean much, since the veterans are just working on conditioning and some new pitchers. Rookies or youngsters that don’t pitch well in the spring are usually sent back to the minors or they are going to have to pitch through some mechanical issues in the first part of the season. Rookies can be very risky to go with early on, even the phenoms because big league hitters are so much better and more patient than the minor leaguers.

Check several different sites (there are many out there, just Google) that have the pitching numbers as well as a performance against the opponent. For example, on Thursday, March 28, the Brewers face the Mets. Freddy Peralta is on the mound for Milwaukee and he went 12-10 with a 3.86 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and allowed 131 hits and struck out 210.

2)It’s mainly about the Money Line. Unlike basketball and football, you just have to pick the winner in baseball when you lose the money line. But it comes with a price. The odds makers want to get close to equal action on both sides, so the lines are set to make the favorite a risk. On the other side, the reward is more profitable if you can predict an upset at the right time.

A standard bet is -110. That’s how much you have to risk to win $100. It would be great if most favorite are -110, but that’s not the case. Picking a winner over -170 is just not good money management. Then you are potentially losing $170 to win a $100. The key is finding strong value. Betting underdogs can work out in the long run, even if you don’t win 50% of your games. The LA Dodgers are going to be huge favorites in most of their games this season. If you can find a team that is +220 underdog against the Dodgers, you can risk $100 to win $220. But if you bet the Dodgers at -270, then you risk $270 to win $100.

3)If you don’t like using money lines, a Run Line is another option. Most of the run lines are at -1.5 for the favorite or +1.5 for the underdog. So if you have Houston (-1.5) against Texas, you need the Astros to win by two runs. Of if you have Texas (+1.5) over Houston, you need the Rangers to cover the +1.5. So they can lose by a run or win outright and you win the pick. There will usually be some juice to these run lines so be careful that it’s not more than -120.

4)Totals. Some people like betting baseball totals over run lines and money lines. The totals in baseball are just like any other sport. You have to pick the over or under of the combined runs that are scored. If you like the Over 9 in the Atlanta/Chicago Cubs game, then the score must be higher than nine runs (6-4 for example). If it ends at 5-4, then it’s a push. If it ends at 5-3, then you lose. The vig or juice on most of these bets is usually -110.

5)Player Props. This has been something new that can be a very exciting part of betting and that’s placing a wager on how many home runs a player will hit or how many strikeouts will a pitcher have. You have to find a quality sportsbook that posts good values on props which could include home runs, steals, walks, hits, total bases, etc. This takes a little research and some time but it could be worth it. Each prop has payouts similar to a money line bet. For example, Mike Trout +210 to hit a home run against Detroit.

6) First 5 Innings

In this case, you are picking the result at the end of the first five innings instead of the entire game. First-5 bets are still available on the money line, run line and totals. In a first-5 money line bet, if the game is tied after the first five innings, the result is a push meaning that both sides will have their wager returned.

If you take a favorite on the run line, you will be taking that team at -0.5, and you need them to be leading after five innings; a tie after five innings on a run line first-5 favorite results in a loss. If you take the underdog at +0.5, you will win your bet if they either have the lead or are tied after five innings.

First-5 inning bets are intriguing because you can focus more on the starting pitching matchups and give a lot less thought to the bullpens.

Author Profile
Ben Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 35 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for nearly 30 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13! Ben has had great success in handicapping college football, the NFL, college basketball, the NBA and MLB for 27+ years. His Twitter handle is @BenHayesWAW