Handicapping Major League Baseball is widely regarded as the most difficult among the major professional sports, primarily because it combines an incredible volume of games for each team that naturally brings with it scheduling and motivation issues that can be tricky to quantify. And in contrast to football and basketball, there is no pure line or spread that can be bet at close to even money that in theory would make each game a 50-50 proposition. With that said, there are nonetheless some actionable betting angles available to baseball bettors that can provide an edge.
Bet home underdogs after scoring 8+ runs
Home underdogs off a big performance with the bat have performed at a profit since 2000. Hitting tends to come in streaks and fits — for both players and teams — so being able to carry a big hitting performance into a game when a team is spurred by underdog status at home makes sense. Since 2000, home dogs of any kind have produced a cumulative ROI of 2.9% following an 8+ run showing. When that underdog reaches +140 on the moneyline, the ROI improves to 6.5% at a strike rate of 41.4%. When the underdog in the spot is +160, the ROI rises to 9.1%.
Bet unders when a favorite is off 3+ errors
Few things stand out in the minds of both managers and fans alike in baseball than a sloppy fielding performance. Not many elements are easier to correct, though, with focus and a deviation away from fundamentals usually blamed. What transpires in the following game is typically a much tighter fielding performance and a much greater focus on defense. The result is the under frequently represents a strong play when a team is fresh off a performance that resulted in three or more errors. Since 2010, the under has pulled an ROI of 2.7% when bet blindly in that spot. When the favorite is -150 or shorter, it rises to a 7.5% ROI, while road favorites of -120 or more have given way to an ROI of 13.1% on the under.
Avoid big underdogs
There is very much a temptation in betting to take plus-money. “Chalk is poison,” or so the saying goes. When it comes to Major League Baseball, though, it is far better to avoid big underdogs than it is to dodge big favorites. In games with an underdog of +200 or larger, those long shots have gone 272-835 since 2010, with an ROI of negative-20.3%. Taking the opposite — the short-priced favorite — has netted a return of 4.6%.
Bet against road teams off big home wins
One of the simplest and most effective MLB betting strategies is to bet against road teams off a dominant home win. The logic is fairly clear-cut: the team is overrated by the market because of recency bias and is now in a spot where conditions are less favorable. That dynamic has stood the test of time, as fading road teams off a home win of 5+ runs has returned 5.9% on investment since 2010.
All statistics taken from the Killer Sports databases (www.killersports.com)