There is so much betting potential in Major League Baseball (MLB). In one season, 162 games are scheduled for each of the 30 teams in the American League and the National League. All of these matchups happen in six months and could reach a total of 2,430 baseball games. That’s a lot of options you can bet on!
The world of bettors and sportsbooks may seem intimidating at first, but we’re here to teach you the basics so you can start betting on your favorite teams in no time!
Whether you’re ready to back the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, or the controversial Houston Astros, here’s a rundown on the basics of MLB betting.
HOW TO BET ON THE MLB
Betting on the MLB is similar to wagering on National Football League (NFL) or National Basketball Association (NBA) games. For starters, there are different ways to gamble when it comes to the sport. Baseball moneyline betting is the most popular one.
In a moneyline bet, the game’s final outcome is all you need to worry about. You might be seeing different numbers that have plus (+) or minus (-) signs. The team with the positive number is the underdog, while the team with the negative or lower number is the favorite.
Take a look at this example featuring St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox:
|St. Louis Cardinals||+102|
|Boston Red Sox||-116|
In the example above, the Red Sox are the favorites, while the Cardinals are the underdog.
Oddsmakers create these betting lines to even out the game so that bettors will wager on underdog teams, too. Betting on the favored team means risking more.
The positive number is the money you can win on top of your $100 bet. The negative figures, meanwhile, refer to the funds you should be willing to risk to earn an additional $100.
For example, in a game between the Chicago White Sox and the San Diego Padres:
|Chicago White Sox||-130|
|San Diego Padres||+110|
In this case, the White Sox are the favorite, and the Padres are the underdogs. Bettors who wanna back the White Sox must risk $130 to win $100. Those who wanna support the underdog Padres can earn $110 on top of their $100 bet.
If the NFL has point spreads and the National Hockey League (NHL) has puck lines, MBL has runlines. A runline is based on the number of runs scored. Since baseball is a low-scoring game, the runline is usually 1.5. Other sportsbooks offer alternatives with more or even fewer runs scored (e.g., 2.5 or 3.5 runs).
For example, let’s take a matchup between the San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies.
|San Francisco Giants||+1.5 (-180)|
|Colorado Rockies||-1.5 (+150)|
The favorite team is the Rockies as they have -1.5 runs in favor of them, while the Giants are the underdogs. In this example, those who are wagering on the Rockies can only win $150 on top of their $100-bet if the Rockies win by two runs or more.
Those backing the Giants should risk $180 to win an additional $100. They’ll get $280 if the Giants win or if the Giants only lose to the Rockies by a single run.
Total Runs (Over/Under)
For those new to sports betting, another betting type is totals betting. This takes into account the total number of combined runs both teams will score. A bookmaker sets a figure. The bettors will place their bets either over (total should exceed the set figure) or under (total should be less than the set figure).
For example, in a matchup between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs, the bookmaker sets the betting odds to 9.5.
In the game, the Cubs scored 1 while the Diamondbacks scored 8, resulting in a total score of 9. Bettors who wagered on “Under” win, while those who bet on “Over” lose. If the teams’ overall score is 9.5, this will be considered a “Push,” and all the bettors get their money back.
These are bets on anything about MLB that will occur in the future. The most common futures bets in baseball are wagers on the World Series, other championships, and bets on the National League and American League.
Futures bets can be on individual players, such as on who will be the Most Valuable Player (MVP) or which player will have the most strikeouts.
Usually, sportsbooks will offer these futures bets before the season begins. Some bookies continue offering these as the season progresses. Still, the sportsbooks adjust the payouts, as the teams’ performances improve, and the requirements to win the wagers decrease.
Other Types of Bets
In baseball betting, there are other types of bets you might want to look into:
- Prop bets – short for proposition bets. It is a bet on anything other than the outcome of a game. Examples of this include how many runs a team will score by the fifth inning or how many home runs an individual player might hit the whole season.
- Parlays – these are bets placed on multiple teams. Most, if not all, wagers should win for the parlay to pay off. Some bettors would combine moneyline and semi-correlated parlays. Others will bet on several MLB favorites if they feel that this would give better payoff compared to betting on just one favorite.
- Series bets – these are wagers done on matchups postseason.
Things to Remember When Betting
Online sports betting can be fun and, if you win, can yield great money, too. If you’re a new bettor, here are some things to remember:
- Stay updated. Check SportsBetting.com for updates and baseball odds, scour the internet for the stats of a team you’re eyeing, and read reviews and expert analyses. Be on the lookout for trades and other changes in the MLB teams— especially those that have acquired an MVP or a Cy Young winner. There’s no stopping a bettor that’s armed with ample MLB knowledge.
- Know your objective. You can’t just place your bets without knowing what you want to get out of your wager.
- Bet safely. While sports betting has become popular, many sites are also scamming people, so it’s best to check if your sports betting site is the real deal. One surefire way to do this is to check if the site is SSL-encrypted.
- Eyes on the prize. Don’t get swayed easily, especially by “big odd bets.” Chances are these odds don’t win a lot.
- Play to your strengths. Review the betting types we’ve listed above. There is absolutely no need to try different betting types all at once. Find the betting type that suits you best and begin from there.
- Track your bets. Whether it’s through an app, a notebook, or a spreadsheet. You don’t just become aware of how much you’ve spent, but these records reveal your betting patterns and behaviors.
- Have fun! Sports betting can be intense, but you shouldn’t let stress get in the way of the fun!
BETTING ON FAVORITES AND UNDERDOGS
Usually, bettors should be ready to wager more money when betting on heavy favorites, but a great example that shows how there is merit in taking a risk on the underdogs is the World Series 2019 upset by the Washington Nationals.
The NY Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Houston Astros are some of the favorites of Las Vegas and other sportsbooks. They have also listed the following teams as strong contenders for the 2019 World Series:
- Atlanta Braves
- Minnesota Twins
- Chicago Cubs
- Boston Red Sox
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Milwaukee Brewers
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Cleveland Indians
Most bookmakers did not even shortlist The Washington Nationals, but the team took MLB by storm when it won the 2019 World Series. Bettors that have backed the Nationals have surely gotten a high payout as the team was one of the decade’s baseball underdogs.
In 2019, right fielder Bryce Harper left the Washington Nationals for the Philadelphia Phillies, plummeting the Nationals’ odds in making it to the World Series playoffs.
To everyone’s surprise, the team finally clinched a World Series title. Led by starting pitchers Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez, the Washington Nationals won against the Dodgers and the Cardinals in a series of matchups.
In baseball, stats and expert analyses are helpful, but nothing is truly set in stone. Outliers like the Nationals could come from nowhere and suddenly upset the playoffs, emerging victorious against far more seasoned teams. This is why wagering on the dogs and sleeper teams can be worth it. After all, nothing feels as vindicating as seeing an underdog team win.