Baseball is one of the world’s most popular betting sports, thanks largely to the high number of fixtures in a typical baseball season, which creates a healthy sample size for analysis and for developing a successful betting strategy. This guide to betting on baseball will hopefully steer you in the right direction and enable you to turn knowledge into profit.
Where To Start
To start getting to grips with baseball betting, you need to know the basics. A baseball game is made up of two teams of nine players. The teams bat and field alternately, until both have completed nine innings. An innings comes to an end when three of the team’s batters are out. In baseball, runs are scored when a batter completes a circuit of the four bases that are laid out in a diamond formation on the baseball field. The team that scores the most runs wins.
Although bookmakers will offer many different baseball markets, there are three that stand out as the most popular: Match Winner, Handicap and Total Runs. The Match Winner market will be recognisable to any sports punters and offers the usual options of home win or away win. Handicap betting is based around the weaker of the teams being given an advantage in the form of runs, while Total Runs involves predicting exactly how many runs will be scored.
Baseball Betting Factors
As with any sport, it is important when betting on baseball to be able to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams by concentrating on key factors. In the case of baseball, the two most important areas are pitching and hitting.
The pitcher is without question the most important member of a baseball line-up. In a typical MLB season there are so many games that all teams have to rotate their pitchers. It is vital to be aware of the strengths of each team’s pitchers, including their second choice or relief pitchers as well as the starting pitcher. Baseball is awash with pitching statistics to help you do this, and it is worth researching them all to find which statistic you feel is most relevant. The key statistics to start with are probably: Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP), Walks Plus Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) and Earned Run Average (ERA).
As with a team’s pitching strength, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of their batting resources. As with pitchers, there is a wealth of statistical information that can help, with the key hitting stats being: On-Base Percentage (OBP), Plate Appearances (PA) and weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), though some baseball punters also consider Isolated Power (IP).
While a detailed knowledge of the pitching and hitting strength of every team is an important foundation in baseball betting, you also need to be aware of the other influences that can determine the outcome of a game. As with any outdoor sport, baseball matches can be strongly affected by both home field advantage and climate or weather conditions.
There is a wide variety of baseball stadiums in the MLB, and the varying dimensions mean that some stadiums are more conducive to run scoring than others. Chase Field, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Coors Field, which is the home stadium of the Colorado Rockies, are well-known for producing high-scoring games, while Safeco Field – home of the Seattle Mariners – and the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park tend to be low-scoring venues.
Temperature, humidity and wind speed can all exercise an influence on a baseball game. For instance, thicker humid air makes it harder to hit the ball over long distances, while heat has a thinning effect on the air and creates the opposite effect. Wind speed and direction can also have an influence, though estimating the effect of the wind can be tricky, particularly at stadiums where the wind changes directions. All of these factors can influence the scoring rate in a game, which is particularly relevant if you’re betting in the Total Runs market.
The sheer number of fixtures and the wealth of statistical information available make baseball the ideal sport to bet on. Take the time to get to know the pitching and hitting strengths and weaknesses of all the teams you will be betting on, as well as the quirks that can affect the scores at each stadium, and you will have a solid foundation on which to build a successful baseball betting strategy.