Baseball, despite originating in the U.S., has spread to Japan and many countries throughout Central and South America. And, historically, has been one of the most popular sports to bet on.
Many bettors make wagers on baseball based on team standings. Many people will determine who to bet on solely based on the records of both American League and National League teams.
This is a poor strategy because there are so many other factors that affect the outcome of a baseball game other than a team’s win-loss record. Baseball is a long, grueling 162 game season, and even the best teams rarely win more than 100 games.
In any game of baseball, the underdog may be down but they’re not out till the last inning ends. Even a team that ends the season with only 60 wins has a decent chance to beat a juggernaut team like the Yankees on any given night.
Intelligent bettors will consider many more factors than just wins and losses when making baseball bets, such as stats like batting average, earned-run average(ERA), and home runs. These are definitely steps in the right direction towards making smarter wagers on baseball but you can do more.
If you want to get a leg up on betting on baseball, here are some well-known, and not so well-known, strategies for being successful at betting on MLB games.
1- Learn How to Predict the Weather
Eight of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball have either retractable roofs or domed stadiums so they will not be influenced by the wind and rain as much as open-air stadiums. The following stadiums have domed or retractable roofs:
- Chase Field
- Globe Life Field
- Marlins Park
- Miller Park
- Minute Maid Park
- Rogers Centre
- T-Mobile Park
- Tropicana Field
Of the 8 stadiums above, only Tropicana field has a domed stadium. The other 7 have retractable roofs that will be closed in the event of inclement weather like rain or heavy winds.
Globe Life Field, Minute Maid Park, Marlins Park, and Chase Field all tend to have their stadium’s roof closed for the majority of the year due to the oppressive summer heats in southern states.
The 3 stadiums above that will have their roofs open more often are T-Mobile Park, Rogers Centre, and Miller Park, so when placing bets on games that take place here, we should consider the day’s weather forecast as the wind could have an impact.
A totals bet is a wager on the combined runs scored between two teams. The wind’s effect on runs comes from the wind knocking fly balls down or giving them more loft— the wind will turn some fly balls into home runs affecting the odds on your totals bet.
Past statistics tell us that if the wind is blowing in towards home plate at more than 5 mph, the under wins about 55% of the time.
This wind strength can drastically affect a fly ball that’s soaring towards the warning track and can stop a would-be home run in its tracks.
If more home runs turn into fly balls, the game is more likely to end up with a total lower than the one the oddsmakers have determined.
This logic works both ways though. Wind blowing out towards the outfield at 8 MPH or more results in the over winning about 53% of the time.
Bookmakers may not have time to adjust the over and the under for local wind conditions of every game they set odds for. If you take the time to research the game’s weather forecast, you can be more precise about predicting the runs scored in a game.
2- Get to Know the Umpires
Like the weather, umpires have a big influence on the outcome of games. Every year, umpires make thousands of incorrect calls that have big impacts on individual players’ statistics and more importantly, the games you’re betting on.
A famous example of a blown call occurred on June 2, 2010. On that fateful day, Armando Galarraga was closing in on a perfect game. He was down to the last out of an amazing pitching performance he’d remember for the rest of his life.
Then, Jason Donald hit a grounder to first baseman Miguel Cabrera who flipped the ball to the pitcher. Galarraga clearly stepped on the base before Donald did, but the umpire, Jim Joyce, called him safe. The umpire was profusely apologetic after the game for depriving the young pitcher of a shot at history.
This shows just how prone to errors umpires can be. Umpires are human like the rest of us and even though they do their best to avoid mistakes, they still do. A more common example that baseball fans see every day is umpires calling balls and strikes incorrectly.
While umpires do their best to be fair, some umpires, unfortunately, favor the home team. Umpires may be swayed by the jeers and taunts of a home field crowd and start calling more strikes and balls in their favor, frustrating the visiting team as they see their chance at victory slip away.
Visiting teams can be more likely to lose with an unfair umpire behind the plate. The home team wins 60% of the time when umpire, Lance Barksdale, calls ball and strikes, so anytime you see him umping a game you may want to lean towards betting on the home team.
Try to learn the habits and tendencies of umps around the league to gain an advantage when making bets. The more umpires you learn the habits of, the more of an edge you’ll have when making moneyline bets.
3- Favor the Less Popular Teams
Many teams are expected to win every year and sportsbooks are guaranteed to have a lot of bettors gravitate towards them. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox consistently compete and as a result draw lots of wagers.
The New York Yankees play in a big market and often have one of the highest payrolls in the league. The Yankees had an astounding payroll of $244,583,988 in 2020 and were able to sign all the top free agents and take on bloated contracts like Giancarlo Stanton’s huge extension.
Betting on less popular teams can be a sound strategy because no one sees their success coming. The Tampa Bay Ray’s average attendance of 14,552 was the second-lowest of all MLB teams in 2019, due to the cavernous ballpark they play in and the poor location of the team.
Despite their poor attendance and unpopularity, the Rays finished the season with 96 wins and were one of the most successful teams in the American League. The Rays advanced all the way to the division series where they lost a 5 game series 3-2 to the Astros.
The Rays are a great example of a small, under-market team that excels despite their lack of shortcomings, but few fans will bet on a team like the Rays because they don’t expect a team with such a poor following to be so competitive.
The lack of popularity makes the Rays a sneaky bet to keep in your back pocket. In fact, the Rays finished the 2019 season with 12 more wins than the Boston Red Sox, who are known to be a big market bully that many bettors favor.
Another asset of small-market teams like the Rays is their accomplished front office staff. Erik Neander, the current general manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, spent time honing his craft at Baseball Info Solutions. Cunning management makes the Rays a good bet to overperform against teams from bigger markets and a smart team to bet on for moneyline bets.
4- Avoid Betting It All on Parlays
While they’re risky, parlays are popular bets in soccer and horse racing and also available in baseball. Parlays allow bettors to stack multiple bets in a row for a chance at massive payouts.
Many bettors are unfortunately drawn to parlays by the reward of a huge payout coming from a small stake. People think it’s a quick way to get rich but the reality is that parlay bets are riskier than single bets and rarely pan out.
Parlay bets add much more risk than is necessary. The more games you add to a parlay, the more risk you incur. Parlays are a great way to let your bankroll quickly get away from you.
Avoid parlay bets and keep your bankroll at a comfortable level by betting 5% or less of it per play. You won’t have as many opportunities for a ludicrously big payout, but a conservative betting style will pay off in the long run.
What helps you predict who’s going to win a baseball game? Let us know in the comments.