How to bet on baseball: The basics

James Feldman joins us to give his guide to betting on baseball.

Baseball betting starts with three main markets to bet on; the money line, run line and game total.

The money line refers to which of the two teams will win the game. The run line is essentially a handicap.

The money line favourite will have a run line of -1.5, whilst the underdog will have a run line of +1.5. To win your bet on the run line, your team needs to cover the run line. For example, COL Rockies are -1.5 favourites over CIN Reds. Colorado will need to win by at least 2 runs to cover the run line (2-0, 3-0, 3-1, 4-2 etc.). For those who back the CIN Reds to cover the +1.5 run line, they need Cincinnati to either win the game, or not lose the game by at least 2 runs (0-1, 1-2, 2-3, 4-2 etc).

Betting over or under on the game total (number of runs) is exactly what it says on the tin. The game total will either be a whole or half number. If you bet on a whole number, for example 8, and the game finishes exactly with 8 runs, your bet will be a push and you’ll have your stake returned. The weather is an external factor to consider when betting on a games total runs. Games that are played at Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs home ball park, is notorious for its strong winds (the “windy city”). Game totals are usually released later in the day for Cubs home games, when the weather forecast is more predictable.

The great thing about baseball is all the wonderful and unique ball parks it possesses. These ball parks have different dimensions and are in different climates and temperatures, which can also have an impact on the number of runs scored. Other ball parks like Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, has very thin air. The ball tends to travel much further than other parks, and is well-known for a higher total of runs scored there.

The first major variable to look at when betting on baseball is the starting pitchers, who will be listed for the day’s games. Even though a bullpen is used and that can be factored into your betting, it’s the starting pitcher who will provide the biggest variable on the game.

A team’s offense is another variable that will influence the odds. Plenty of analytics and statistics can help when deciding what bet to place. A player has a whole host of stats that can be used to try and get an advantage when betting on baseball. These stats apply for both the pitcher and hitter, and are all readily available.

When you look past the main lines of a baseball game, you can bet on hundreds of other markets. These are called proposition bets or “prop” bets. Alternative run lines and alternative game totals are popular markets. These two markets allow you to bet on different lines that are offered from the main line. For example, the main game total line is 9.5, but an alternative game total allows you to choose a different line (over 6.5 runs, under 11.5 runs etc.).

Whether you want to bet on if there will be a run in the first inning, to betting on the total number of hits in a game, there’s a bet for everyone. If you want to bet on something more long-term, such as what team will win their division or even who will win it all and take the World Series home, then you can bet on what is called a future (or Outright).

At the start of the season, bookmakers will offer alternative futures such as a team’s total number of wins. Every team has an over/under total number of wins that you can bet on. You can also bet on markets such as whether a team will make the playoffs, the CY Young winner for their conference, the pitcher with the most strikeouts, and many more.

This is just a very brief, basic guide to betting on baseball. If you want to know more or have a question, then feel free to get in contact with me, by using the link to twitter at the top of the post.

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