Moneyline sports like Major League Baseball can do a number on your betting bankroll. Today, we’re taking a look at five important rules that will keep your head above water. Here are five rules to keep in mind when betting on the big leagues.
1. Avoid heavy favorites
By heavy favorites, I’m referring to teams listed at –170 or more. While these may appear to be safe bets at first glance, in reality they’re far from it. Rarely will you find a –200 favorite that isn’t overvalued. With upwards of 15 games on the MLB board just about every night, there is usually much more value to be found elsewhere.
A perfect example of this rule is last year’s edition of the Tampa Bay Rays. They were heavily favored more often than not, and despite a good overall record (84-78), they had the moneyline bettor down over nine units on the season.
2. Don’t put too much weight in starting pitchers
Pitchers are just one part of the baseball equation. When it comes down to it, very few starting pitchers can be relied upon consistently. Where you can find value, is looking at current team performance. Oddsmakers overvalue certain pitchers all the time, knowing that the public will bite. For example, Zack Greinke was favored in all but four of his 33 starts in 2006. However, the Kansas City Royals went just 17-16 in those games.
3. Pay attention to the schedule
Few bettors take a team's schedule into consideration when handicapping a game, but it is definitely an important factor. There are plenty of letdown spots to be found. For instance, in 2006 the Boston Red Sox went on the road to face the then lowly Rays followed by a trip to Kansas City. They proceeded to drop five of six games.
Were they looking ahead to series against the league-leading Tigers and AL East-leading Yankees at Fenway in the next week? Probably. Another good spot to look out for is when a team is wrapping up a disappointing or lengthy road trip. We tend to see a lackluster effort in the final installment.
4. Avoid betting against streaks
While there can be value in betting against highly publicized streaks from time to time, the bottom line is you’re going against the grain, and that’s not usually a profitable decision. In most cases, you are better off waiting until a streak finishes to start siding with or fading a particular team. We saw numerous double-digit streaks last season. Whatever you do, try to avoid chasing a team on a losing streak. A long losing streak can put you in the poorhouse in a hurry.
5. Don’t rely solely on statistics
There is a never-ending list of statistical categories tracked when it comes to baseball. While these numbers can a useful, they can also steer you in the wrong direction in some cases. Remember, there are stats that will support either side in most matchups. Uncovering the most important ones is critical.
Some categories that I put emphasis on are: starting pitchers' K/BB ratio, team bullpen ERA and team batting average over the last 10 games. The lesson to be learned is, don’t blindly back a team based on numbers. Be sure to take a look at the fundamental and situational aspects as well.
Early Season Baseball Betting
After more than five months off, the first pitch of the new baseball season is here. Preparation for the baseball season started in March, looking at injuries, depth charts, player transactions, statistics and many other sources to get ready for another long but enjoyable year. Early on in the season could be the most important since this is where betting momentum is either built or never established and that can take its toll throughout the summer months. Hitting your stride early is huge.
Do Not Bet Many Games Early On
With 2,430 games being played during the season, there are plenty of betting opportunities that are going to occur so there is no reason to let it all out early in the year. A lot of veteran baseball bettors don’t even play during the first few weeks of the season as they’d rather get a feel for the players and teams rather than throw money at a coin flip. However, there are opportunities early on that can be taken advantage of but there is no reason to be playing four games every night, or even one game every night for that matter.
Stick With the Underdogs
The best part about being a low-market team baseball fan is the fact that this time of year, that team is in the hunt. As time goes on, those teams start dropping off but for the most part of the beginning of the season, these teams are playing with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Moneylines are mostly based on last season’s performances and plenty of value can be had on the teams that are not getting any respect early on. There are plenty of bad numbers out there in April and a lot of those can be taken advantage of.
Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hype
You are going to hear a lot of stories on how a certain young pitcher has dominated and made the big league rotation. Spring training can be good for evaluation but once these kids face quality hitting every time out, things can change. Avoid rookie starters early in the season until they get adjusted to their new surroundings. If the prices are good, fading them can be the way to go. Bad starts can cause a domino effect on these youngsters that are non-recoverable.
Watch the Weather
Coming from a hot climate to cold and wet surroundings is a big transition for most big league players. Pitchers are most affected by this but hitters can be affected just as much. Keeping an eye on the weather during the first month is extremely important. Finesse pitchers are hurt more by cold and wet weather while power pitchers are able to have more success in those conditions. Hitters do not like those conditions at all so power pitchers in bad weather environments can lead to some good under wins.
Play the Streaks
One rule in baseball that applies everyday is to never bet against a team during a winning streak and never bet on a team during a losing streak. This should not be strayed from during the first month. Teams are very streaky in April and trying to figure out when those streaks will end can be a disastrous way to get the season going. If you plan on betting on a team during the first month of the season, make sure it won its last game. Conversely, bet against a team only if it lost its last game.