How to Bet on Baseball

How to bet on baseball, for every sports bettor.

Key Points

– There is a lot to learn before you bet on baseball.

– Understanding how the different bets work will help you learn to bet on baseball.

How to Bet on Baseball

Baseball betting is a popular way to gamble on America’s pastime. There are a few different ways to bet on baseball, but the most common is to bet on the moneyline. This simply means picking which team will win the game outright. 

Another popular way to bet on baseball is to bet on the run line. This is baseball’s version of the point spread. Bettors wager on a favorite or an underdog to cover the spread. 

Lastly, you can also bet on props, or proposition bets. These are bets on things that may or may not happen during the course of a game Bettors can wager on how many total home runs will be hit or whether a certain player will get a hit. 

No matter how you choose to bet on baseball, it’s always important to do your research and select a reputable sportsbook. With so many different options out there, it can be tough to know which ones to trust. But with a little bit of effort, betting on baseball can be fun and quite lucrative.

Bet on Baseball – Moneyline Betting

The most popular way to bet on baseball is on the moneyline. It’s the simplest of all bets as the bettor is betting on a team to win the game. 

The amount of money you bet is determined by the odds. An example helps to explain MLB moneyline betting. Let’s say the Philadelphia Phillies are playing the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

  • Pittsburgh Pirates +120
  • Philadelphia Phillies -115

In this case, the Pirates are the underdog as indicated by the plus sign (+) before the odds. The Phillies are the favorite as indicated by the minus sign (-). 

The Phillies are more likely to win and if you like Philadelphia to win you would place a $115 wager to win $100. In other words, for every $1.15 bet, the bettor wins $1.00. If the Phillies win the game, you are a winner and collect your payout.

If you happen to like the underdog Pirates, you can win $1.20 for every $1.00 wagered. If you bet $100 on Pittsburgh and the Pirates win 2-1, you collect $120. 

Baseball moneyline betting can be profitable if you know how to handicap the games and pick winning teams.

Run Line Betting

Unlike football and basketball, baseball does not feature a lot of scoring. While bettors typically bet the point spread in sports like football and basketball, baseball lends itself to being more of a moneyline sport.

Bettors can still wager on the point spread in baseball via the run line. Because of the lack of scoring, oddsmakers have established a run line for all games. The standard run line is 1.5 runs.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates +1.5 (-125)
  • Philadelphia Phillies -1.5 (+105)

Almost one-third of all MLB games are decided by one run. That is why the run line is almost always set at 1.5. There are rare occasions where a run line might be 0.5 or 2.5, but that is very infrequent. 

In our example, Pittsburgh is still the underdog as seen above. The Phillies are the run line favorite at -1.5, but notice that the odds are positive at +105. While Philadelphia is expected to win, they are not expected to win by at least two runs. In this case, a bettor could wager $100 and win $105 if the Phillies did win by two or more runs.

A bettor that likes Pittsburgh could bet $125 to win $100 here, but the Pirates would have to lose by one run or win outright. If they win outright, remember that you could have bet $100 to win $120 on the moneyline. That is why baseball is more of a moneyline sport. 

Betting Baseball Totals

Totals betting is another exciting way to bet on baseball. Just like in other sports, bettors in this market are betting on whether the total number of runs scored in a game will be over or under a certain amount. 

We can continue using our example to explain how the totals market works. 

  • Pittsburgh Pirates O 7.5 (-110)
  • Philadelphia Phillies U 7.5 (-110)

Most MLB totals are set by oddsmakers between 6 and 8 runs. In games featuring two very good pitchers, the total is usually 7 or less. Otherwise, the total is usually 7.5 and above. Pitching is typically the biggest factor to weigh when betting baseball totals. 

In our example, the total is set at 7.5. The odds on either side of the bet are -110 meaning that we would have to bet $110 to win $100 whether we like the Over or the Under. We will discuss more about MLB totals betting strategy later. 

Totals betting can be a great way to add some excitement to your baseball betting. It’s also a great way to get more value for your money, as underdog teams often have high totals. 

Bet on Baseball – Player & Team Props

Most online sportsbooks will offer bettors the opportunity to bet on MLB props. These bets are focused on just about every aspect of the game. There are bets for on-field play as well as bets for those off-the-field situations that have nothing to do with an actual game.

The big thing with MLB prop bets is that they are another way for bettors to make money betting on baseball. Plus, wagering on whether or not Mike Trout will hit a home run or the total number of hits, runs, and RBIs by one player compared to another is exciting and fun.

In order to have some success betting MLB props, it helps to understand the types of bets available and to have a strategy that can help you take advantage of value and increase your winning percentage.

MLB Season Props

These types of MLB props are long-term bets. Bettors will make their wagers before the season begins and, sometimes, can make these bets during the season. A great example would be related to home runs.

   Which player will lead the majors in home runs?

  • Mike Trout   +850
  • Pete Alonso +900
  • Aaron Judge   +1200

There are other players on the board, but these are the top three. A $100 bet now on Trout would pay out $850 if he leads MLB in home runs this season.

Moneyline Props

Moneyline prop bets are typically simple propositions, but you have to pay attention to the odds. An example of an MLB moneyline prop would be this bet on which player will record a stolen base first.

Which player will record a stolen base first in 2021?

  • Ronald Acuna Jr.    -105
  • Adalberto Mondesi  +115
  • Dee Gordon            +155

In 2019 over a 162-game season, Acuna recorded 37 stolen bases. In this example, he is the favorite and a bettor would need to put up $105 to win $100.

Comparative Props

Comparative props are very exciting and can keep bettors engaged all season long. Comparative props can be single game prop bets as well. Here’s an example.

Which pitcher will have more strikeouts?

  • Max Scherzer -135
  • Aaron Nola   +120
  • Tie               +115

Now, this could be a season-long bet and the winner, of course, would be the pitcher with the most strikeouts over the course of the entire season. Scherzer is the favorite and notice how a tie is actually given better odds than Nola having more Ks than Scherzer.

This could also be a game prop if the Mets-Phillies were playing and Scherzer and Nola were the starting pitchers. 

Game Props

As the name suggests, game props are those bets that have nothing to do with the direct outcome of a single game. For example, a common MLB game prop is Team to Score First.

Bettors wager on the team they think will score first. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, only which team scores the first run. Here are some examples of other team props.

  • Team to score first
  • Will a run be scored in the first inning?
  • First team to reach 3 runs
  • Total number of home runs hit (Over/Under)
  • Total number of hits, runs, and errors (Over/Under)

And the list goes on.

Player Props

It’s the same for common MLB player props. Player props are extremely popular across all sports and MLB is no exception. 

Bettors can wager on a player hitting a home run or not in a single game. They can also wager on the total number of strikeouts a pitcher will have. Many MLB player prop bets are Over/Under bets. For example, the strikeouts prop might appear as follows:

Lance McCullers Over 5.5 (+112) Under 5.5 (-144)

If you bet $100 on the Over and McCullers strikes out at least six batters, you win $112. If you like the Under, you have to bet $144 to win $100. If McCullers strikes out five or less, you’re a winner.

In the home run category, typically you wager on a player to hit a home run. Odds on a player not to hit a home run are so juiced that a “No” bet is rarely worth it. That’s why To Hit a Home Run bets usually look like this:

  • Yordan Alvarez +300
  • Kyle Schwarber +340
  • Kyle Tucker +340
  • Bryce Harper +360

Like team prop bets, there is a list a mile long filled with individual player prop bets for MLB games.

First Five Innings

MLB First Five Innings bet is a type of wager in which the MLB game has to be played for the first five innings in order for the bet to have action. If the game is called or suspended before five innings, then the bet will be graded as void and all MLB first five innings bets will be refunded. 

Five full innings must be played for the bet to count. If an MLB game is postponed, First Five Innings bets will also be void and all bets will be refunded. 

Betting the First Five Innings of an MLB game is similar to betting the first half in an NFL or NBA game. Bettors can wager on the moneyline, point spread and total. 

First Five Innings bets take the bullpen out of the equation. These are strong bets whenever an ace pitcher is on the mound. An ace against a poor team with a mediocre pitcher gives the bettor an advantage in the First Five moneyline and/or point spread depending upon the odds. 

A game featuring two pitching aces squaring off against each other is a good time to consider the First Five total. 

NRFI – No Runs First Inning

The No Runs First Inning bet has become very popular over the past few seasons. It’s a very simple bet where the bettor wagers that the score at the end of the first inning will be 0-0. 

The NRFI bet, as it is usually called, is a high-risk, high-reward type of bet. Odds can reach +200 and higher depending on a number of factors. If you can correctly predict that a game will not feature a lot of scoring early on, you can often hit a nice payday betting No Runs First Inning. 

Bettors can also get action on the other side of this NRFI bet. There is the YRFI – Yes Runs First inning – bet where a bettor wagers that there will be at least one run scored in the first inning. 

It pays to do your homework in this market. Bettors would assume that you would want games with two great starting pitchers or two really strong offensive lineups. That’s not the case.

Two great pitchers going against each other usually yields bad NRFI odds and bad lineups produce bad NRFI odds. The best bets are when you can find an underrated pitcher with good NRFI stats pitching against a really good lineup that is in a slump.

Betting MLB Futures

MLB futures bets are wagers placed on events that will occur in the future. For example, a bettor may place a bet on which team will win the World Series. This is the most popular of all MLB futures bets. 

The earlier you place a futures bet the more likely you are to get better odds. At the very beginning of a season, you might get the Atlanta Braves at +1500 to win it all. As the regular season progresses, the Braves look like they are going to win their division and have one of the best records in MLB. When that happens, their odds begin to fall.

It’s the same in the MVP categories. These are individual player futures bets. The same idea holds here too. The closer you get to the close of a season, the worse the odds will be on the favorites. 

MLB futures markets are great because bettors can get some large payouts. It’s awesome when you bet on a team early to win the World Series at +3500. 

Keep in mind that the odds for MLB futures bets are constantly changing. Bettors should monitor the odds closely to ensure that they are getting the best value for their bet. MLB futures bets are a great way to add excitement to the baseball season and potentially earn some extra money.

History of MLB Betting

Baseball and gambling have a relationship that dates back to the middle of the 19th century, when owners realized they could profit from games. 

Unfortunately, baseball has a troubled gambling past, marked by scandals at various points in time, most notably the 1919 Black Sox scandal. That scandal almost ruined the sport. 

Although many people believe that baseball is a game played in big cities, it was actually more popular in small towns and villages across the country. Because baseball was a game of competitiveness, skill, and chance similar to their daily job on farms, people in rural communities became attached to the game. Scandals didn’t go over well with those types of people.

Baseball Betting Scandals

Baseball betting scandals have occurred frequently throughout history, including an incident in 1905. John McGraw, the manager of the New York Giants, won $400 by betting on his own team to win the World Series. 

The 1919 Black Sox scandal is one of the most well-known in sports history. After learning that former pitcher Dutch Leonard was involved in betting on the 1919 World Series, the president of the American League paid Leonard $20,000 to keep the evidence secret because he thought the incident would be so detrimental to the sport. 

The incident was finally uncovered and Johnson was fired. It was at this time that MLB decided any player caught betting on his own team would face a lifetime suspension. That is what happened to former Cincinnati Reds great Pete Rose. 

Rose is among baseball’s all-time leaders in hits and games played He was suspended in 1989 for placing bets on the results of games, many of which he had participated in. Despite Rose’s denials, there was ample proof, including testimony indicating that Rose even placed bets on his own players while he was managing. 

To this day, rules regarding players betting on games are posted in every MLB dugout. Players, of course, are not permitted to engage in betting at all.

Pros & Cons of Betting Baseball at US vs. Offshore Sportsbooks

Many novice sports bettors are misinformed regarding land-based and offshore sportsbooks. Sportsbooks that operate offshore offer a number of benefits.  Additionally, offshore betting sites provide a number of different gaming solutions. The offshore sportsbook is the best option if you’re a sports bettor looking for more and want to get the complete gaming experience.

Nothing compares to the variety of betting and gaming options offered by an offshore sportsbook. All of the major sports are available, along with numerous betting markets within those sports. Additionally, there are niche sports like tennis, golf, and more as well as alternative betting markets.

An offshore sportsbook offers a variety of wagers that you won’t find at a land-based book. These include live betting, player and team props, and more obscure bets like pushup competitions and bets on the upcoming mayor race in any city in the world.

Use Multiple Books to Shop Betting Lines

Smart bettors will shop for the best MLB lines and odds. Offshore sportsbooks are known for having the best lines. Bettors that continually find better lines have more MLB betting success. There are a couple reasons why offshore betting sites can offer the best lines.

The first is government regulation, or rather, the absence of regulation. There isn’t much regulation of the industry in countries like Costa Rica, home to several offshore sportsbooks. These sites are freer to operate as they see fit and they are not compelled to take actions that might not be profitable.

Lower taxes are a result of reduced government regulation. Businesses are often taxed less in these countries than they are in nations like the US. The sportsbooks can pass some of their savings onto their customers in the form of better odds and even better bonuses.

Smart bettors bet on baseball at offshore sportsbooks. They take advantage of generous bonuses, better lines and odds, and a massive range of bets.

Baseball Betting Tips & Strategies

The smart bettor knows that money can be made when you bet on baseball. With the right tips and strategies, you can increase your chances of winning while also enjoying the game more. Here are a few baseball betting tips and strategies to help you get started.

  • Do your research. Before placing any bets, it is important to do your research and understand the teams, players, and trends involved. This will give you a better chance of making successful predictions.
  • Consider all factors. When making baseball bets, be sure to consider all of the relevant factors, such as pitching matchups, weather conditions, and recent team performance. Ignoring even one of these factors could lead to a loss.
  • Manage your bankroll wisely. It is important to only bet an amount that you can afford to lose. This will help you stay disciplined and avoid making impulsive bets that could lead to financial ruin.

These are tips that any bettor can use in any sport. Bettors should always do their homework before placing a bet. Consider all of the factors that influence MLB game outcomes and stick to a money management philosophy.

As far as baseball betting strategy, there are a few ideas that the best MLB bettors follow. One of those is related to big favorites and plus-money underdogs.

Avoid Big Favorites

Consistently betting on big MLB favorites is a recipe for disaster. Sportsbooks know the public will wager on teams like the Yankees and Dodgers regardless of the line. Since they know that, books will often make a Yankees team that should be a -155 favorite and stretch it to a -195 favorite. 

MLB underdogs win about four out of every nine games. That’s just too high to continually back big favorites. When you lose on a big MLB favorite, you lose big. On the other hand, when you win on a plus-money MLB underdog, you win big.

You can actually break down MLB underdogs to find a solid betting strategy. Road underdogs playing a division opponent win at a much higher rate than 44 percent. Playing a division opponent 19 times each year creates some familiarity, and that gives an advantage to an underdog. 

That advantage increases in games where the expected total is 8.5 or above. Oddsmakers are expecting a lot of runs and that means some of them have to come from the underdog. In many cases, the underdog ends up outscoring the favorite. 

MLB Props Betting Strategy

The lines on MLB props are a little more volatile than those on individual games. Sportsbooks have a better handle on moneyline, run line, and totals lines and odds.

With props bets, MLB bettors must search for the line that just doesn’t make sense. Take slugger Mike Trout at +2500 to hit a home run. That would raise a few eyebrows as Trout typically homers 30 or more times in a season. 

While that bet is a bit ridiculous, those are the types of bets you are looking for when betting MLB props. It can be tedious work trying to find those opportunities, but the rewards can be great. The best MLB props strategy is one that involves plenty of patience. It takes time to identify value prop bets.

Bet on Baseball Totals

Two things more than any other influence an MLB game total – pitching and wind. An ace pitcher will reflect in oddsmakers totals. A battle of aces, as mentioned earlier, will result in low totals like 6.5 or 7. That has to be taken into account when betting MLB totals.

Then, bettors should look at the pitcher versus hitter matchups. Some pitchers own certain hitters. In some cases, it’s the other way around. Certain hitters will light up even the best pitchers in MLB.

Finally, when betting totals, it pays to look at the wind speed. Wind, more than any other weather element, affects baseball totals. For example, in games since 2005 when the wind is blowing in toward home plate from the outfield at speeds of at least 5 mph, the Under has cashed over 55 percent of the time. 

On the flip side, when the wind is blowing out from home plate at speeds of 8 mph or higher, many of those routine fly balls become home runs. Since 2005, the Over has hit roughly 53 percent of the time given those conditions.

Pitching and wind speeds as well as the history of the pitcher-versus-hitter play the greatest role when handicapping MLB totals.

About the Author
Joe Berra
Joe Berra
Sports Writer
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Joe takes care of the bits and pieces that sometimes slip through the cracks of the sports world. Efficiency and consistency is what makes different. JB helps keep Sports Hub’s content fresh and exciting, managing its many authors. From the New York area, Joe knew he had a knack for sports betting when his uncle was always asking him which side he was on as a young boy. His meticulous approach to the numbers formed his career path as a professional handicapper. Joe is sometimes called Jimmy Bagpipes, JB or Mr. B.