America’s Pastime hardly needs an introduction. Betting on baseball is the next step up for fans of the game. You’ve put in your time, you know the players and sometimes it feels like you know exactly how the next game will go. Now it’s time to put those skills to use.
Getting started with online baseball betting begins with finding a place that has a history of giving customers a fair and safe experience.
We pride ourselves in listing safe baseball betting sites that offer competitive odds, and extra value in terms of bonuses and promotions.
Best Baseball Betting Sites
We decided a created a list of must-have qualities any baseball betting website should have. It becomes a more manageable job to recommend reputable operations when you methodically rule out sites that don’t show these traits.
- Reputation and History: A baseball betting sites history is always a good indicator of its future. Some baseball betting websites are just plagued by trouble and this indicates a fundamental problem. Bookmakers with a history of slow-pays and other shenanigans simply aren’t worth wagering at. There’s no point in joining any baseball betting site that doesn’t offer a minimum level of trust and security.
- Deposits and Payouts: Every experience with a baseball betting site begins with a deposit and ends with a withdrawal. This process needs to be secure and reliable at both ends. It needs to be easy to get your money into your account. Even more important, you need to be able to claim your winnings when you’re done wagering. Operations that make it difficult, expensive, or time-consuming to withdraw aren’t listed here.
- Depth of Baseball Coverage: We use the term “depth” here to describe how many games, leagues and types of wagers a betting site covers. At minimum, your site needs to host wagers on every MLB game of every season and important NCAA college games. It’s even better if a site also covers Japanese baseball and other international leagues.
- Promotions: The best baseball betting websites value their customers and reward us with deposit bonuses and other promotions such as reduced juice lines, moneyback wagers, and other promotions.
Types of Baseball Wagers
The mechanics of betting on baseball online are pretty simple once you understand how the basic types of bets work. These are the five main types of baseball wagers that you’ll see most often at a typical online sportsbook.
- Moneyline Bet: If you want to place a bet on who will win a game without dealing with point spreads or other factors, the moneyline is for you. Baseball bookmakers list both teams, offers odds on each and then you pick one team to win straight up. Positive numbers such as +150 indicate that the team is an underdog. Odds of +150 mean that for every $100 you wager, you’ll get $150 in profits if that team wins. Negative odds such as -220 are reserved for favorites and require a bigger initial outlay. Odds of -220 would meant that you would need to risk $2.20 for every $1.00 in profits paid if that team wins.
- Run Line: The run line works like a moneyline but throws in a point spread to help even the odds. The majority of baseball run lines are set at 1.5, with the favorite listed at -1.5 and the underdog listed at +1.5. If you wager on the favorite, your team must win by 2 or more runs for you to win the bet. If you wager on the underdog, your team must either win outright or lose by only 1 run for you to win the bet.
- Futures Bet: As the name indicates, baseball futures bets covers events that take place in the future. Two common markets for baseball futures are wagers on who will win the division or take the World Series title.
- Totals: Totals allow you to wager on the combined score of both teams in a single game. Baseball oddsmakers set a total and then you predict whether the combined score of both teams will be greater than or less than that number.
- Props: Proposition wagers cover aspects of the game other than predicting the winner or total. Examples of baseball props would be wagers on how many strikeouts a pitcher gets, whether or not someone will hit a home run, how many RBIs one team will get and so on.
The MLB is an American organization with international appeal. With a worldwide audience and more than 2400 games played per season, MLB betting is big business. You can visit just about any betting site on any given day during baseball season and find a hundred or more MLB betting options.
Experienced sports bettors generally agree that Major League Baseball is the easiest professional sport to handicap. The sheer number of games, players, and data make it possible for motivated handicappers to spot valuable lines somewhat regularly. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is easy to earn a profit with MLB betting online, but it is possible.
The key to doing well in baseball betting is to do your homework. Not only should you have a passion for the game, but you also need a working knowledge of how baseball betting works. On this page, we will get you started with the betting basics. Read on to learn more about where to bet and how to bet on professional baseball.
Moneyline Betting on Major League Baseball
During the MLB season, each team plays 162 games – more than any other sporting league in the world. This creates plenty of opportunities for betting on baseball games and finding profitable lines.
Generally speaking, match betting on the MLB is done on the moneyline, which is essentially a form of fixed odds betting. Some online betting sites use fractional or decimal odds, but moneyline is the most common for betting on baseball.
For moneyline betting, baseball betting sites set a moneyline according to how likely each team is to win a game. For example, one team might be set at -400 and the other team might be set at +200. The team at -400 would be the favorite, and a $100 bet on them would return $25 plus your stake if they win. The team at +200 would be the underdog, and a $100 wager on them would return $200 in addition to your stake if they win.
The Run Line
Run line betting in Major League Baseball is similar to normal matchup betting with the addition of a handicap (point spread). As a general rule, the spread tends to be 1.5 in baseball; so the favorite is normally set at -1.5 and the other team is set at +1.5.
The bookmaker also sets a moneyline for you to bet on, taking into account the point spread. If you choose to bet on the favorite, then that team would need to win by 2 runs or more for you to win your wager. If you bet on the underdog instead, then a win for that team or a loss by one run would make your wager a winner.
Example of a Run Line Bet
Here’s an example from a recent Rockies vs. Phillies game:
- Rockies +1.5 -190
- Phillies -1.5 +160
What we see in this wager is that the Rockies were slight underdogs. They had a +1.5 run line, which means your wager would have won if the Rockies either won outright or lost by only one run. The -190 means that if you had bet $100 on the Rockies, you would have stood to win about $52.
The Phillies were the favorites in this one, so they were listed with a -1.5 run line. This means the Phillies would have had to win by at least 2 runs for your wager to win. The +160 means that for every $100 you wagered on the Phillies, you stood to win $160.
If you’re wondering why the Rockies were paying less despite being underdogs, that is because the run line was there. The same bookmaker that had this bet also had a regular moneyline without the points handicap. In that other wager, the Rockies were listed at -115. The Phillies were listed at -125 without the handicap.
Betting on the World Series Winner
This is a pretty simple wager that you can place at any time during the MLB season. All you have to do is select which team you think will win the World Series at the end of the season. The betting markets for this type of wager usually open prior to the start of the season and remain open right up until the final is played.
The odds for each team fluctuate during the season as it becomes clearer which teams have the best chances of being crowned World Series champions. This is a fixed odds bet, and online sportsbooks offer odds in either fractional, decimal or moneyline format.
This type of bet is called a “futures” bet because it takes place over a longer period of time than your typical straight-up wager. There is some strategy involved in the timing of your bet.
If you place your World Series futures early, you have less information to work with. However, the lines makers also have less information. This means you are more likely to find underpriced teams.
If you wait to place these bets, you have more information to work with. The downside to waiting, however, is that the bookmakers also have more information. The longer you wait to place your World Series wagers, the closer the lines are to reality. This makes it more difficult to identify underpriced teams.
Other Bets on Major League Baseball Games
The wagers referred to above are among the most commonly placed by bettors on Major League Baseball, but sports betting websites tend to have a range of other bets available too. These other wagers are classified as “prop bets.”
For example, betting on the total number of runs scored in a particular MLB game is a popular wager. You can also find a variety of player and team props throughout the season. Other examples include betting on who will score the most runs, how many runs a team will score in a particular game, who will score first and so on.
MLB prop bets have sort of a mixed reputation. Some people write them off as sucker bets because of the increased juice and the tendency of casual bettors to haphazardly place prop bets. On the other hand, some people will tell you that prop bets can be profitable.
The thing about prop bets is that sports betting sites don’t have the time or willpower to put a lot of research into setting the perfect odds for every prop bet. They know they can just bump up the juice a little, do some rudimentary line setting and let the amateurs go crazy. But, if you have a deep understanding of the game and the willingness to do your homework, it is possible to find profitable prop bets. The key is to do your research and have the patience to wait for truly worthwhile prop bets.
A Few Random Tips for Baseball Betting
Baseball is one of the best sports for the serious, strategy-minded bettor. The game is difficult for oddsmakers to handicap and with so many games played every year, there are ample opportunities to find value. Baseball is also a statistics-oriented game and that provides additional ammunition for gamblers.
Be Careful With Large Favorites
Favorites in baseball can quite pricey, especially if a talented team’s ace is on the mound, and they are facing a weak offense. The odds for these teams can easily be -200 or higher. Though, it looks like a “lock” on paper – that likely isn’t the case for the price a bettor must pay to wager on these mega favorites.
Baseball is full of short term luck – that’s why they each team plays 162 games a year. The best pitcher in baseball, with a formidable offense backing him may face the one of the worst pitchers on the worst teams, and guess what? The ace is still only about 70% favorite to win the game, and those are only when the conditions are near perfect.
A -200 bet has a breakeven percentage of about 68%, so bettors will need to win their bet nearly 70% of the time to even breakeven – we’re not even talking about showing a profit. Favorites at prices even higher than -200 will be even tougher to profit from betting from.
How do you profit with these large favorites? You simply don’t bet them. Short term variance is just too critical of a factor to make large favorites profitable. There is a lot more value from going after + odds underdogs or moderately priced favorites.
Respect the Pitching
MLB betting is centered around pitching lines and an extensive knowledge of pitchers is crucial for any baseball bettor. It’s not just knowing the pitchers themselves, but how certain teams fare against different styles of pitchers. Strikeout pitchers, power pitchers, fly ball and ground ball pitchers, etc. all give trouble to some team or other.
If you’re really serious about your game, keep up to date on minor league pitchers, especially late into the season. Clubs frequently bring up touted pitching prospects and knowledge of the minor league system can give you a significant leg up over the competition.
The starting pitcher is good, but don’t forget about the bullpen. Look at the relievers and closers. How has each of these players fared against the upcoming opponent in previous matchups? This kind of data is widely available.
Know the Ballpark
Baseball is unique from other sports because a team can virtually do whatever they want when they build their home park. In most other sports, the differences will be small, maybe a dome stadium or a different type of turf – in Baseball the difference can be gigantic.
Petco Park the home park of the San Diego Padres is a major pitcher’s park. Balls die in the outfield and home pitchers can get away with more than they could at smaller, hitter-friendly parks. The reverse is true for Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park, which are complete bandboxes. The balls seem to fly off the bat, and runs are aplenty. ParkFactors.com is a great resource for this information.
Real Money Baseball DFS Tips
As is the case with any sport that you are betting on, knowing the game better than your competition is an obvious leg up. Extensive knowledge of Major League rosters and even minor league systems of each for the 30 clubs in baseball is not a requirement, but it helps.
There is so much information available from a fantasy perspective, along with dozens of blogs for each team across the country. These help players get a more personal touch on each of the league’s franchises and are excellent for keeping a local pulse on the team. Learn as much as you can about baseball, it will only help you win more leagues against your opponents.
Know Your Baseball Fantasy League Rules
Daily fantasy MLB is available at all DFS sites, each having their own unique rules. Understanding the scoring of each DFS site is critical to a profitable summer in MLB daily games.
There can be loads of variations with the amount of slots available for position players, but normally players field a full lineup identical to MLB baseball, but with one or two utility players. The key difference between the sites is the number of pitchers. Many offer just one starting pitcher and a relief pitcher, but others have slots for 3-4 starters and relievers. Obviously, depending on the format you are using, your strategy may be slightly different.
Building Your Daily Lineup
Unlike other sports, building a lineup in baseball is a twofold process. Hitting and pitching are evaluated separately, and both come with their own set of statistics to determine what might be a viable option on any given day. This makes building a daily lineup in baseball harder than most other daily options, not only because you are judging two different types of players and stats, but also because the sheer number of players you need to chose to fill your lineup. This normally consists of 9-10 position players and 1-3 pitchers, a much larger number of selections than in any other DFS contests.
For this reason, building a baseball lineup can be more time consuming than other sports, but with our tips below, we hope to make that much easier for players while helping them to make some profits at the same time.
Hitters: Buy Power
In most daily baseball leagues, a home run is worth a ton of points, even if it is a solo shot. If you have a night where your team hits a few homers, it is extremely rare that you lose your games, even if your pitchers had subpar outings. That is why players should look to buy power whenever possible.
Yes, this sounds obvious, “buy guys who hit home runs” but often players do not put it into practice. Home runs are game changers in both real-life baseball and in the fake baseball (not so fake for us!) daily fantasy world. If you are going to pay up big for someone in your lineup, make sure they have a solid matchup and home run power. Also, look for lower priced guys that have a decent chance to go yard.
Of course, you will not be able to fill your entire lineup with potential home run hitters, but when in doubt go with power vs. batting average when selecting players for your team. Home runs are instant points for both your fantasy team and a player’s real-life club. They _don’t_ require anyone to be on base, but contribute at least one run and RBI in just one swing. When there are guys on base, that is an added bonus.
Batter vs. Pitcher
The use of BvP, Batter vs. Pitcher has been a hot topic in the daily fantasy community, one that some players swear by and other scoff at. We’re one of the ones that swear by it! It is insane not use previous at bats to determine future performance when a hitter steps into the box against a pitcher he’s faced several times before.
As with most statistics, sample size is extremely important. A fair sample size is probably about 8-10 at bats, two games or so worth of ABs, before players can begin to draw conclusions from the numbers. If a player has impressive numbers against his mound opponent, he is almost always at least worth looking at. If he’s also on a hot streak heading into the matchup that makes the perspective play an even better option.
BvP is a powerful tool, but should not be relied upon solely for building a lineup. It is vital to take into account players who are past their prime when using these numbers. For instance, Todd Helton is far from the player he once was, so his numbers against pitchers who have been in the league awhile are not accurate of what he is likely capable of today.
Another situation is when a player has excellent numbers against a top level pitcher. If a player has impressive numbers against say, a Justin Verlander in his prime, he is still probably not worth playing despite the solid track record. Firstly, he will not get many RBI opportunities against an ace level starter. Secondly, you are still betting on a player against an ace, which normally is not a solid decision unless you are devoid of options elsewhere. A cheaper or similarly valued player against a poor starter is normally a better choice. Despite what the may numbers tell you, it is almost always best to avoid the league’s top pitchers in daily fantasy.
Look For Bargains
The principle goal of daily fantasy is to take a player at a lesser price that performs better than a player at a similar or higher price. Like other sports, pricing may not be fully updated with current performance, so grabbing guys who are undervalued in their pricing especially beneficial.
Backups in baseball are often times similarly priced to everyday players because no one will select these players unless they are in a given day’s lineup.
Still, day games, especially Sundays, are full of lineup bargains for DFS players. Hitters that are in solid offensive lineups hitting in the upper part of the order are excellent cheap options for players looking to go cheap but possible get a payoff.
Timing a Streak
One of the keys of daily fantasy is looking for players who are starting to get hot with the bat, but playing them before their price gets adjusted to a point where you lose a lot of value for the play. Remember, RBIs are just a benefit to getting a hit when there are men on base. So, if a player is getting a lot of hits (especially extra base power) but not getting RBIs or being batted in to score (runs) – it is often just dumb luck that he isn’t scoring more points.
There are dozens of statistics to value hitters beyond just batting average. One of the most noteworthy ones is Batting average on balls in play (BABIP) which measures how many of a batter’s balls in play go for hits. If a talented player is suffering from an extremely low BABIP, it is likely he is getting unlucky with his balls hit into play. Daily fantasy players can use these numbers to evaluate players’ pricing based on other factors than his average daily fantasy points or nightly box scores.
Looking for hidden value, even among middle to high priced players is imperative to building a winning MLB lineup consistently.
Ballpark Factors & Weather
Where the game is being played should also be a decisive factor when determining who to go with in your nightly lineup. A fly ball pitcher in Yankee Stadium is usually a recipe for disaster while even the most average of pitchers could throw out elite performances at Petco Park. There is a wealth of information online about each ball park, and if it favors hitters, pitchers or somewhere in between.
Weather should also be a concern when setting your daily rosters. There tends to be more rain outs earlier in the season rather than in the latter months of the season, simply because it is easy to make up games with a longer schedule to work with. This isn’t to say there is not a fair bit of rainouts late into the season, but they are much less frequent than they would be in April and May.
Weather can also influence the runs scored in each game. For instance, Wrigley Field is sometimes described as a pitchers’ park when the wind is blowing inward, but when the wind is blowing out, balls seem to carry more to the outfield making it more of a hitters park. Weather reports for each MLB game can be found on a number of sites and are worth keeping an eye on if you are building a lineup for the day.
Filling Your Daily Pitching Staff
Pitching, even more so than hitting can make or break your daily fantasy roster. Picking a solid stable of pitchers – even with the mountains of statistics to evaluate them – isn’t an exact science, and there a litany of factor to consider when choosing reliable, and therefore profitable options. Many sites will only have one starting pitcher spot, making the selection even more crucial. In these leagues, if your pitcher struggles heavily, it will difficult to overcome.
Keep An Eye Out For Top Prospects
An extensive knowledge of all MLB pitching would be ideal, but daily fantasy players should at least have a decent knowledge of top young pitching prospects. This is an area where you can widen their edge on the average DFS player who likely isn’t knowledge about the top soon-to-be major leaguers.
Pitching prospects can be hit or miss, but every year there are multiple rookies who come in and dominate the league almost instantly. These guys are not as competitively priced (at least early on) as more experience or _perceived_ more reliable veteran starters. Draft pedigree, minor league numbers and matchups should all be taken into account as well, but in many cases these guys can be just as proficient or better than more established starters, and also cost less.
Find the Ks, Find the Wins
The more strikeouts your pitchers collect, the more points you will score and the more leagues you will win. Of course, pitchers who strike out a lot of guys will consequently cost more than pitchers who are less K-prone. Still, it is worth trying to get as many strikeout pitchers into your lineup as possible. This isn’t to say a solid fly ball or ground ball pitcher are useless, but when you have a starter that strikes out a lot of guys, it not only gives your team more points, but can help offset a poor start if a pitcher falls to perform up to expectations.
Pitcher vs. Batter
Just as we spoke about BvP statistics as a helpful tool for picking hitters – we can use it as a tool to find favorable matchups for pitchers. Again, we need to look for a significant sample size and still take into account other factors such where the game is being played, injury concerns and how meaningful the numbers may be based on the pitcher’s current form and age.
Some teams struggle mightily against southpaw starters while others seem to tear the cover off the ball against them. Lefty/right team splits should be something that you take a look at when choosing a starting pitcher.
Ballpark factors are important to consider when choosing pitchers. Even the best pitchers in the game can be shaky plays against powerful offenses in hitter friendly parks, so tread carefully when paying a high price for an elite pitcher in these situations. Likewise, a pitcher who is not as talented can benefit enormously from playing in more spacious confines. Home and road splits are especially crucial to consider when building your staff.
Team defense is another factor that determines a pitcher’s overall line. Of course, if an error is committed those runs are unearned and will not count towards your pitcher’s ERA. But, there are plenty of plays that a strong defensive team will make that a poor defensive team will not make that are not necessarily marked down as errors.
A ground ball pitcher that has a shaky infield behind him could be trouble. Team defense is also one aspect players normally fail to consider when building their lineup. A pitcher is much less effective without a solid defense behind him. Most daily fantasy players overlook this factor when choosing their starting pitchers.
Go Cheap On Relievers
It is unlikely your relief pitcher will be used in most days you play, but when they record a save it is always a nice bonus to add to your score for the day.
However, despite the bonus you receive when one of your relievers performs well, it is not worth spending extra money on relief pitchers.
The cheapest pitchers with a chance for a save should be the ones you are targeting when making your lineup.
Of course, you can still play matchups, but since your reliever(s) will not likely be taking the mound it is crazy to pay a premium amount for relief.
Checking bullpen reports of each team can also help you grab a replacement when a closer has a night off or when a team’s closing situation is up in the air.