The best baseball teams lose at least sixty games a year and the worst teams win close to that same number. The rest of the league falls somewhere in between. Consider that the more favorites you bet, the higher the percentage of wins you’ll need to break even. For example, if your average bet is a –150 favorite you’ll need to hit 60% winners just to break even. At –170, that number increases to 63% and so on.
Now consider the opposite. If your average bet is a +120 underdog, your break-even percentage drops to approximately 45.5%. At +140, its down to just over 42% and the higher you go the lower the breakeven percentage. Keeping in mind that even the poorest baseball teams seldom win fewer than 37% of their games, it is apparent that looking for opportunities to bet on underdogs is essential to profitable baseball wagering.
set a limit for betting on favorites
While most successful baseball bettors look to play underdogs first, favorites can frequently present good value as well. Often times, one will find a top team playing on the road as a minor favorite or other situations will present themselves where small favorites are a good play. To bet baseball successfully, you should implement a strict limit on how much you’ll lay on a favorite, say -150 or lower. Once you establish your “cut off” for wagering favorites, never wager more than that, regardless of the circumstance or situation.
don’t place too much stock in starting pitchers
Too many sports handicappers place too much emphasis on the starting pitcher. It’s understandable, of course, since the bookmakers list the starting pitcher when setting the line for each game. If you pay any attention to baseball, however, you’ll know that the quality of starting pitching has reached a state of equality, if not mediocrity. Sure, there’s a small number of elite pitchers, but all others are a cut below these few. And since you’ll never get these guys anywhere near your favorite cut off point, don’t worry about them.
It’s an obvious fact that baseball is a game of streaks, and nowhere is this more evident than in pitching. If a starter is demonstrating particularly good or particularly bad recent form, it might not be compensated for in the line and there may be value in playing on (or against) the starter in question. Overall, however, starting pitching receives way too much emphasis when evaluating baseball from a wagering standpoint.
understand that baseball is a game of streaks
This is no secret, of course, but it is something to be aware of when betting on baseball. No matter what else you find relevant about a game, you should think twice about betting against a team that has won three or more games in a row or on a team that has lost three or more games in a row. This may sound superstitious, but it’s a valuable rule to follow. You’ll always be better off in the long run by not going against a winning or losing streak the majority of the time.
home field advantage just doesn’t matter
Of all major sports, there may be less advantage to playing at home in baseball than in any other. This is especially true during the long regular season. Granted there are teams that do better in certain ballparks than others, but this is more a function of the design of the ballpark and the personnel of the team than any home field advantage. Some parks are clearly “pitcher’s parks” or “hitter’s parks”, but it works both ways – the opposing pitchers and hitters often have the same advantage or disadvantage as the home team’s players. Furthermore, bad teams are frequently overvalued at home, which results in good value on the visitor. Over the course of season, most teams will probably do better at home than on the road but the higher prices you’ll have to pay will negate this fact. More often than not, “home field advantage” shouldn’t be a consideration in handicapping a game.
In baseball, each game’s odds are heavily influenced by the starting pitchers.
When betting on a game, you can choose to bet team against team in the match-up regardless of the starting pitcher or you can choose to specify one or both of the scheduled starting pitchers. Betting team against team in called “action” and that means your bet will stand regardless of who starts the game pitching. If you want to specify pitchers to start you would be betting “listed” pitchers. This means that if the scheduled pitcher to start the game does not start your bet is void. Because of the influence of pitching on a game many people will use this option. For example, Roger Clemens is scheduled to start against the Florida Marlins who have a terrible record hitting off him. You want to bet on the Yankees to win the game because you know Clemens will shut them down. You would then want to bet on the Yankees with Clemens as “listed”. That way if for some reason Clemens doesn’t start your bet would be void. On the other hand, if you think the Marlins are so bad that they can’t win regardless of who starts the game pitching, then you would want to bet on the Yankees and have the pitchers “action”. You bet then not be good even if there is a change of starting pitchers.