The countdown is on as we move closer to a 2019 MLB season that promises a deep pool of contenders fighting to reach the World Series. We can expect a similar cast of characters to last season, headlined by the Boston Red Sox, the defending champions. The New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians should all be in the mix too. Meanwhile, offseason free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still have decisions to make on their futures, which could give the playoff picture a different look.
This is part of our series of sports betting guides.
Take a look at our other in depth guides below
The baseball season, which gets underway in late March, is a betting dream in the sense that each team has 162 games crammed into six months – and that means a packed nightly schedule from coast to coast to evaluate.
This is a fascinating time for MLB betting online, with home runs galore (though the total dipped a little last season), top notch pitching and innovative coaching. From the Yankees’ double act of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge to the Astros’ stacked batting line-up led by Jose Altuve, the league has eye-popping talent. Looking to get in on the betting action? Here are your options that people are talking about on the baseball betting forums.
What are baseball betting lines?
Like with most sports, this is the simplest and most easily understood betting option. You simply have to decide which team will win. That pick is complicated by the fact that starting pitchers change on a game-by-game basis, bullpens can swing the outcome and it is tough to predict when batters are going to heat up. Games continue until we get a winner, so you might have to sweat out some extra innings.
How the spread works
With MLB spread betting, we get into the margin of victory. Oddsmakers review the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams (particularly the pitchers) and determine a line. For example, the Red Sox might be favoured by 1.5 runs against the Toronto Blue Jays. In that case, if you bet on Boston, you would need them to win by two runs. If you are picking Toronto, even a one-run loss would bring home that bet. You will also find a MLB betting line for total number of runs scored in a game and total hits. In all over/under instances, the baseball betting odds will sit around 10/11.
First five innings
This category largely takes the bullpen out of the equation and pits the starting pitchers against each other, since both will usually last five innings (though that is less certain in the playoffs). You can bet on who will be winning at that point in the same way as full game betting. Every year, we get a few teams with a talented starting rotation but a leaky bullpen. The Colorado Rockies were one example of an underperforming bullpen from 2018.
Betting on Home runs
This is a tough one to win on as teams have big hitters up and down the line-up, and betting on the first home run hitter is even more precarious (though you will find odds starting at around 6/1 for the top threats). Picking an anytime home run scorer is likely the way to go if you are intent on taking this path, but there are often more appealing options on the board. Still, there is something fun about cheering for a particular player to crush the ball out of the stadium.
You can find various other nightly player performance props, including the number of strikeouts for the starting pitchers.
Before the start of the 2019 season, cast an eye over the “futures” odds on division winners, World Series champions and regular season win totals.
While there will be opportunities during the course of the season to bet on the World Series winner, the odds are obviously more compelling before the first pitch is thrown in the 2019 season. The Red Sox and Astros understandably lead the way in the oddsmakers’ eyes, closely followed by the Yankees and Dodgers. Among the next tier of teams, keep an eye on the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals who could both make some noise if they stay healthy.
When it comes to predicting regular season wins, remember that even the teams that finish with the best records in 2019 will lose over 50 games. It takes a significant effort to reach the 90-win mark.
People often ask how to win when betting on the MLB and we have some tips below.
Other baseball betting tips:
It’s a long season: A short memory is critical in MLB life as the games keep coming thick and fast. With 162 games to figure out a winning formula, do not be overly alarmed by a slow start. Similarly, it is tough to create the same “do or die” feeling in comparison to a 16-game NFL regular season so urgency only really comes late in the year.
Schedule fatigue is felt league-wide: While betting on the NBA requires careful monitoring of whether one team has endured a more taxing recent schedule, baseball is a day in, day out grind. Teams play almost every day so it is rare for one team to be more rested than the other.
Beware good pitchers with limited run support: Before leaping to bet on even a top tier starting pitcher, just double check on the health of the batting line-up. A star pitcher can have a big impact but they are still dependent on the hitters delivering run support. Without it, you could have to sit through some excruciating low-scoring losses.
Bullpens matter: We see this every October, in particular, with games never safe if the bullpen cannot record outs. Do not judge games by the starting pitcher alone – sometimes the lack of late innings support is costly.
Watch for left hander vs. right hander tendencies: Watch for trends here as certain teams/hitters thrive against right-handed pitchers but struggle to deal with lefties, or vice versa. That can have an impact on the betting line.
Monitor ballpark trends: Since each stadium is somewhat unique in its design, the potential for high-scoring games varies across the league. Games at Minute Maid Park (Astros), Oriole Park (Baltimore Orioles) and Coors Field (Rockies) tend to deliver a high number of home runs and will typically prompt the highest betting lines for total runs.
Divisional games are a wild card: Teams play each of their divisional foes 19 times a year. They know each other inside out, and the batters have a better read on the opposing pitchers. Do not write off the supposedly weaker team in divisional contests, especially if they are playing at home. There is often more parity in these showdowns than the standings would suggest.
Interleague action adds a wrinkle: Keep in mind that when American League teams travel to National League teams, the designated hitter role (allowed in the American League) does not apply. Instead pitchers must bat. That can throw visiting teams off balance, giving National League teams an extra edge.
Weather can be a determining factor too: While there is largely steady weather across the league during the heart of the schedule, late March, early April and late September can serve up some windy conditions which, in theory, should reduce the chance of home runs and high-scoring games.