MLB betting makes up even more of the action at online sportsbooks than the NFL, largely because each team plays 10 times as many games as an NFL team does each year. With 30 teams playing 162 games each, you have 2,430 games you can bet on and that’s not even counting the playoffs, in-game betting, or prop bets.
Baseball betting differs slightly from NFL betting and is a good option for bettors who like to dig into research. Because each game is so highly influenced by individual matchups, momentum, and injuries and there are roughly 15 games each day, the amount of research is significant but worth it to get an edge over professional handicappers. Baseball odds are also set differently than football, which we will detail below.
Betting on MLB Games
In the NFL, bets are typically placed based on the point spread, or the margin a favorite has to win by or “cover” in order to pay out. The MLB does not have point spreads, though it does have a “run line,” which essentially sets the point spread of every game at 1.5. Run line bets will come with different payout odds, which make it similar to moneyline bets.
Instead of betting on the point spread, most MLB bets are based on the moneyline, which is the ratio of the actual payout to the initial stake. So if the Yankees are a -180 favorite, you would have to bet $180 to win $100. If the Red Sox are a +150 underdog, your $100 bet would net you $150 in winnings. With a run line bet, the team would have to win by at least 2 runs to cover.
Betting on the point total or “over/under” is another popular way to bet on MLB games. Each game will have a projected combined run total that is set by individual sportsbooks based on factors like pitcher matchups. You can bet on whether the final score will be over or under the projected total. Like other bets, this can be research intensive, particularly looking at pitcher-batter matchups, weather, trends, and even umpire stats.
Different betting sites will offer varying odds, allowing bettors to shop around to find the site that offers the best payout for their pick.
With run line bets, sites set differing payout odds. With moneyline bets, sites will set their own price based on betting trends and other factors.
Prop bets or in-game bets are also increasingly popular and are offered on various betting sites. These bets allow you to wager on individual events, like at-bats, or things like which player will get a hit first, will a certain player hit a home run, and how long a starting pitcher will last on the mound. These bets are offered throughout the game and the odds change very quickly so it’s a much more intense and involved way to go.
MLB Betting Markets
Now that you’re familiar with run line, moneyline, over/under, and prop bets, we can review some of the more exotic bet types available at most online sportsbooks.
Parlays are one way to maximize your winnings, but at at increased risk. A parlay allows you to combine two or more bets into one. You have to hit win both bets to win any money, so the risk is higher than in a single bet, but the payout is also significantly higher, especially if you combine three or more bets.
Bettors who do not want to spend their time at the whim of every umpire call can also make futures bets. One type is a series bet in the playoffs, which allows you to bet on which team will win the series and in how many games rather than bet on individual games. You can also bet on a number of different futures like which team will win their division, who will lead the league in home runs, who will win the Cy Young, and who will win MVP. These bets can be placed at any point during the season or even earlier and the odds are constantly changing depending on trends, transactions, and injuries.