When you’re betting on baseball and the MLB, it’s very much a numbers game – and there’s plenty of opportunity for statistical analysis. This makes for plenty of ‘moneyball’ bet types: let’s take a look.
In any sport, you have the opportunity to bet on the winner of a match. In some sports, like American football, point spread betting is more popular than the money line. In baseball, though, the money line is king.
When betting on the money line, you are simply betting on who will win a match, with odds on an evenly-matched baseball game likely to be -110 for both teams. But, more often than not, there will be a favourite and an underdog, which will be reflected by the odds.
Example: The New York Yankees are @ the Tampa Bay Rays and PointsBet is offering the Yankees as the money line favourite, with odds of -160, giving odds of +135 for the Rays. If the Yankees win, a $10 bet would earn you a payout of $16.25, giving you $6.25 in winnings.
Run lines are the MLB equivalent of point spreads in the NFL and NBA. While money line is the most common type of baseball bet, run lines are their most-popular alternative.
A run line bet only applies to a baseball match that lasts the full 9 innings, has extra innings, or 8.5 innings if the home team is winning. To wager on the run line, you are essentially betting on whether the favourite will win by 2 runs or more, or whether the underdog will lose by 1 run – or win the match.
Unlike traditional point spreads in other sports, the run line is always set at 1.5. However, some books offer alternate run lines, where you can choose 2.5, 2 or 1.
Example: With the Cleveland Indians @ Chicago White Sox, DraftKings offers odds of -152 for the White Socks +1.5 on the run line. The Indians are favourites on the money line, with odds of -132, but are +128 on the run line -1.5.
So, if you feel they will win by a wide margin, you can get more value betting them on the run line than money line. At odds of +128, a $10 stake would win you $12.80 in winnings, so you would get $22.80 back in total.
In baseball, you can also bet on totals, such as over or under. This is the total amount of runs scored in the game – including the combined score of both teams. Lines here can be set as low as 6.5 for games predicted to be low scoring, or as high as 11 for more offensive games.
Like with run lines, the length of a match is important for totals betting. So if a winner is decided via rainout, money line bets would still count but all over/under bets must go the full nine innings to count.
Example: The Detroit Tigers are @ the Pittsburgh Pirates and William Hill is offering a line that expects a match with relatively low scoring. Over 9.5 runs is odds of +100, with under 9.5 priced at odds of -120. If the total number of runs in the match is 10, a $10 stake on over doubles your money, as you win $20 back.
Like in any sport, MLB and baseball betting offers you the chance to wager on multiple selections, not just a single bet. You can do this with a parlay, which combines a minimum of two selections and can go as high as you realistically want.
A parlay bet can combine different bet types, such as money line, run line, totals or anything else, including other types we discuss below. The more selections you pick, the higher your odds – but they all have to win for a successful wager, so your risk of losing also increases with every added pick.
Example: A four-way parlay with William Hill has odds of +947. The picks are Atlanta Braves @ Philadelphia Phillies on the money line, Baltimore Orioles @ Washington Nationals over 9.5 total runs, Detroit Tigers @ Pittsburgh Pirates +1.5 on the run line, Cleveland Indians @ Chicago White Sox on the money line. A $10 stake on this parlay wins you $104.70 including your stake back.
If you bet those four picks as single, however, your overall profit would be $32.18 and you would have to wager $40 in total.
Common across all US sports, prop bets allow you to wager on specific aspects of player or team performance. They are best illustrated with examples:
Margin of victory – Using this prop bet, you wager on how many runs a team will win by, usually having the option of 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 runs. To win your bet, you have to pick the right winning team as well as the margin of victory.
Team to score first – You can also bet on which team will score the first run of the game. The away team will have an advantage as they are up to bat first, although the odds will depend on the form and ability of both teams.
Total strikeouts – An example of a player prop bet, it functions like an over/under bet, where the sportsbook will provide a line on how many strikeouts a starting pitcher will throw (for example 4.5). You can then wager over or under that number.
Series betting – In the MLB, you aren’t restricted to just match betting; you can bet on the winner of a series, which becomes more popular during the postseason and the World Series.
First five innings – Similar to half or quarter betting, you can also bet on which team will lead after the first five innings.
The Grand Salami – An entertaining and popular bet type with sportsbooks is called the grand salami wager, which adds the over/under totals of all a day’s games and acts as an overall over/under for all matches.