Betting on baseball can be an enjoyable endeavour, as the action can depend on the outcome of every single pitch thrown throughout a game. But betting on baseball is even better when you know exactly what to look for before you place your bets.
In this guide to betting on baseball, find out what you should look for before placing your bets on the game, including some key differences between baseball betting and wagering on other sports.
Every sport has some kind of system where reserves exist to bolster a starting lineup. In some sports, like basketball, these reserves feature throughout each game while a sport like football only sees a limited number of substitutions per match.
Baseball is unique in the way substitutes are used, in that position players frequently see the same starters appear each day. Pitchers, meanwhile, are used interchangeably to preserve the health of their arms.
The stress of pitching on the human arm is immense, as the overhand pitching motion is not a natural one. Therefore, to keep pitchers in the best physical condition possible, teams have pitching rotations in place to prevent a starting pitcher from throwing too often.
These rotations usually consist of five pitchers, but can feature four or six depending on where the team's depth lies. When it comes to betting on baseball, this is important because the starting pitcher on any given day can make a world of difference when it comes to placing a bet.
For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most formidable clubs in the world when Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for them.
Kershaw's run as one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball has made the team tough to beat when he is their starting pitcher for the day. As a result, the Dodgers are usually favoured when Kershaw is pitching.
On the flip side, some of the other pitchers on the Dodgers are less dangerous than Kershaw. Therefore, the Dodgers might be an underdog or less heavy a favourite when someone other than Kershaw is up in the starting rotation.
Knowing how a team's starting pitching rotation is set up is vital, because it helps explain the odds that each team is facing heading into a game, while simultaneously highlighting any matchup advantages that a team has.
When it comes to betting on baseball, evaluating this facet of a matchup is one of the first steps that anyone should take before making a decision.
Most sports see a game played on a playing surface that is the same no matter where a match is held. A football pitch has the same dimensions at the upper levels of the game. A basketball court is the same from arena to arena.
But baseball is unique in that the dimensions of the field vary greatly depending on what venue a game is being held in. This is one of the most fun quirks about the game of baseball, and remembering its existence can be so important when it comes time to place a wager on the sport.
Field dimensions in baseball can vary in different ways. One such way that they can vary is the actual distance to the wall from home plate at each stadium. Some stadiums feature longer or shorter distances to the wall to left, right, or centre field.
This can mean that it is easier or more difficult for players to hit home runs at those parks, depending on where the dimensions lie and what the hitting strengths of a given team are. The height of each wall can vary as well, making the degree of difficulty of hitting a ball over said walls change with those heights.
What makes the unique nature of each ballpark so important to betting on MLB and other baseball leagues is the fact that some ballparks can cater to the strengths of certain teams better than others. A great example of this is Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
Fenway Park features a short distance to the left field wall, which happens to be an extremely tall wall. This fence is known affectionately as the Green Monster, and has become one of the most iconic ballpark quirks in all of baseball.
The Green Monster, in addition to being a fun thing to remember about the game, is also a component of Fenway Park that really benefits a specific style of player. That style of player is the right-handed hitter who is able to hit for power.
With the wall being a short distance from home plate, and with it being so tall, players are able to routinely hit the ball off the Green Monster even on plays that would be routine fly ball outs at other parks.
Once a ball is hit off the Green Monster, it is usually a single or double for the player who hit the ball.
Of course, hitting the ball over the Green Monster for a home run is a regular occurrence as well, but the Red Sox have been known to bring in powerful right-handed hitters for the express purpose of hitting balls off of their giant wall to pick up easy hits.
As a baseball bettor, knowing which teams have advantages at which ballparks based on the dimensions of each field is a very important task.
If a team is loaded with power-hitting right-handers, for example, they could find themselves at an advantage in a game held at Fenway Park. Using this information to your advantage is something that simply does not exist in other sports, and makes betting on baseball a fun challenge.
Matchups, Matchups, Matchups
Anyone who has success betting on baseball knows how important matchups are to that success.
Whether it is how a team matches up against a specific pitcher, or how their pitchers match up against a given batting order, these matchups can offer a ton of insight that you simply cannot obtain from other sports.
One of the best uses of matchup data is evaluating how a team performs against certain types of pitchers.
For example, you will never hear about how a basketball team performs against left-handed point guards, but there are tons of statistics available for how baseball teams do against left-handed pitching.
If a team is particularly proficient against a certain type of pitcher, that is often a cue to continue evaluating whether or not that team is worth backing with a wager.
These matchup evaluations can be done down to the individual batter versus pitcher level, as all players have career numbers available against each pitcher they are scheduled to face.
Using this data to your advantage can be the difference between placing winning bets and simply hoping for the best with each bet.
With so many things to consider when betting on baseball that other sports do not require thought on, betting on baseball can be very exciting.
Making sure to use all of the data and information at your fingertips can turn betting on baseball from something that is simply exciting into something that can be both exciting and fruitful, as long as you remember the above tips.