Sports Betting 101: MLB Betting Tips

Baseballs
Check out these baseball betting tips (photo credit: Imagn/USA TODAY Sports)

Baseball season gets underway on Thursday, April 1, 2021, and fans and bettors are very much looking forward to getting back into action wagering on the sport. As legalized sports betting becomes more widely available across the United States and the sports gambling industry continues to grow, there will be more betting on baseball in 2021 than there has ever been. If you’re someone who is looking to bet on baseball and put yourself in the best position to win, you’ve come to the right place. Take a look at some of our best tips for betting baseball in 2021.

Avoid big favorites

When betting on baseball, it can be tempting to take big favorites. Heck, it can be tempting to pick big favorites in any sport. The problem is that, in the long run, it’s very hard to beat the price you’re having to pay when betting on big favorites, especially in baseball.

Sportsbook will often display baseball betting lines that have one team favored quite large over an opponent. Most of the time, bettors can look no further than the starting pitchers, see the discrepancy between the two sides, and be pulled into laying the big number.

Oddsmakers understand this, so there can often be a little more juice baked into the price of a betting favorite. This should make you want to be more selective when betting big favorites in baseball, as opposed to just blindly clicking heavy favorites with the expectation you’ll come out a winner in the long run. As we discussed in another one of our informational articles, it can pay to bet against the public.

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Shop for the best lines and prices

You’ll often see us remind you to make sure you shop for the best prices, and we’re going to do that again here with this piece of baseball betting advice. Regulated sports betting is becoming more accessible across the U.S. There are more legal sportsbooks in more states than ever before. Legalized sports betting in the U.S. is no longer just a Nevada thing. With more options available, the chances you can find differing prices is greater.

Think about shopping for sportsbook prices just as you’d shop around for the best price on a car or anything else you might buy. With how advanced everything is these days, it’s not too difficult to find prices for different shops online or via your mobile device, so take a few extra minutes to shop around the available legal sportsbooks in your region to make sure you’re getting the best price.

While you may not think too much of the difference between laying -130 and -140, over time those better prices will add up. You always want to be paying as little juice as possible when betting favorites and getting as good of a return on your money as possible when taking underdogs, so shop the market regularly.

Furthermore, shopping around different sportsbooks involves having more than one sportsbook account. By having accounts at more than one sportsbook, you’ll be able to take advantage of things like deposit bonuses, bet boosts, and other special offers the sportsbooks may be offering.

Take divisional and home underdogs

As is the case in most sports, teams within the same division play each other more often during the regular season. This is also true in baseball, which increases the familiarity the teams have with one another. When teams are more familiar with one another, the gap can be narrower. Underdogs can have a better idea of how to hit an opponent’s ace or attack the opponent’s lineup, and these things can go a long way to providing value on a divisional underdog.

Familiarity also plays a role with home underdogs in baseball. Baseball parks are all built slightly differently. The outfield walls might be shorter or deeper to reach, wind might play a factor in one direction or another, the stadium’s shape can come into play, and weather can be a factor – all of these things provide uniqueness to each ballpark and that uniqueness is more familiar to the home team.

Pat attention to the weather

Weather can affect play in all sports. With baseball, it’s important to pay attention to the wind, as it can create a pretty large impact on the game. Windy games can cause flyballs to go further, possibly resulting in more home runs, or fall short, resulting in more outs. This can affect how teams perform, so be sure to pay attention to how teams hit – is a team a flyball team that hits a lot of home runs, or is a team more prone to hit groundballs? Wind can also affect the total on a baseball.

It’s also important to pay attention to the weather of a specific region a baseball game is played in. For example, Coors Field in Colorado is known for having less dense air and making way for more home runs. Some ballparks are in regions with a lot of humidity and that can affect how a baseball travels through the air, too.

We’re not saying you need to become a weatherman, but you should have a good understanding of the basics when betting baseball. One of the best places to look for baseball weather insights is the MLB Weather Report from Kevin Roth of RotoGrinders.com.

Know the pitchers

Pitching is absolutely huge in baseball, and it pays to know the pitchers that will be involved in a game. You can begin with the starting pitchers and weigh them fairly heavily, but don’t overlook the middle-inning and late-game pitchers that come from the bullpen.

For pitching, you can start to dive into some of the more advanced stats available, although these stats are becoming more of the norm and seen as less “advanced.”

Field independent pitching, otherwise referred to as FIP, is an advanced stat that measures a pitcher’s ERA independent of the team’s defensive performance around him. Because of FIP’s close similarity to ERA, you can simply use it instead in order to get a better idea of a pitcher’s performance on the mound.

Building off of FIP, you can also look at xFIP, which is expected field independent pitching. This stat is based on outcomes that don’t involve defense and replaces a pitcher’s HR total with an estimation of how many HRs the pitcher should have allowed. The idea is that xFIP removes more randomness.

A third advanced pitching stat to keep an eye out for is walks plus hits per innings pitched, referred to as WHIP. This stat measures how many base runners are allowed per inning by a pitcher.

Keep an eye on the schedule and workload

With so many baseball games being played during the regular season, it’s worth paying attention to schedules and how they can affect the workload for teams and players. Players may take days off to rest or they might be a little bit more worn down than usual. Teams playing many games in a short span can show signs of wear, too, or maybe a team is on the tail end of a long road trip and just dying to get home. Much like the schedule can come into play when betting on the NBA, it can be a factor in baseball.

Adhere to bankroll management

Bankroll management is worth mentioning when giving betting advice for any sport, but its importance becomes greater when it comes to a volume sport such as baseball. There are a lot of baseball games during the regular season, with each team playing multiple times during the week. It’s crucial to adhere to good bankroll management practices.

A general rule of thumb is to wager no more than 1-5% of your bankroll on one bet. If you’re more of a conservative bettor, you’ll want to lean closer to betting 1% of your bankroll per wager. If you’re willing to accept a more aggressive betting style, you might want to risk 3-5% of your bankroll per wager. The exact amount is up to each bettor.

Part of bankroll management will be avoiding things such as teasers and parlays. Stick to betting individual games lines, totals, and player props.

We’d also advise sticking to one wager amount over the course of an entire season. Some bettors will raise the percentage of their bankroll that they risk based on their confidence level, but that adds another level of complexity to betting that can wind up costing you when you’re forcing things and chasing bigger losses. If you stick to flat betting and wager the same amount on every play, your results can be more consistent. You can then evaluate your results at the end of the season and make any adjustments before the next season rolls around.

For more advice and information on betting betting, check out SharpSide’s guide to MLB futures and prop betting.

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