Baseball might be considered a ‘slow’ sport by some, given the large amount of time players spend standing around, but it can be just as captivating for any gambler.
The baseball season is very busy, with each team playing 162 games before the post season even begins, with games available to bet on pretty much every day since they all play each other so much.
The sport therefore provides a wide array of betting opportunities and the huge selection of markets can make for some exciting wagers.
While the sport’s epicentre is the United States, global interest in the sport means baseball betting is accessible to fans worldwide.
How to Bet on Baseball
At the very least, any online bookmaker should provide odds for Major League Baseball (MLB). This is by far the biggest baseball league in the Western world, with nothing else coming close. Some betting sites do branch out further than this though, covering the action in nations such as Japan, Korea, Mexico or even Cuba.
While it is important to note that other high-quality leagues exist outside the US, it is the MLB that attracts the lion’s share of the betting income. If you want to bet on the MLB, you should be aware that the regular season runs for about the middle six months of the year. Other nations, for example Japan, Korea and Mexico, have extremely similar calendars so you will find there is an absence of high-quality baseball during the northern hemisphere winter.
During the warmer months though the action is plentiful. To those still rather unfamiliar with the sport, you might be surprised by just how many matches teams can play in half a year. In the Major League, every team plays 162 games plus some will play post-season games on top of this. This is not overly unusual either as over in South Korea, KBO teams face 144 regular season fixtures. What it means for gamblers is that the next baseball betting opportunity is never far away at all given many teams are almost playing on a daily basis.
Main Bets on Baseball
Having so many fixtures packed together often means you cannot bet on a specific baseball match far in advance. A betting site will offer odds for a team’s next game and possibly the one after that, but that will usually be it. It is a contrast to a sport like football where you can easily find odds a week or more in advance.
As with the other big US sports, you can find betting sites using some of the North American betting terminology for their baseball markets. In these cases we will mention what they are and what their European market equivalent is.
Match Bets/Main Props
The following markets are popular choices, many of which you will find across betting sites.
One thing most have in common is that they relate to the entire match and therefore the performance of both teams.
- Moneyline – A wager on the team you believe will emerge victorious in the game, mirroring the concept of a “match result” market.
- Run Line – This equates to handicap betting, where you back a team with an advantage or disadvantage of a given number of runs.
- Alternate Run Line – Similar to the run line but with varying run values, enabling bets on teams with different handicap advantages.
- Total Runs – A bet on whether the total number of runs scored in the game will surpass or fall short of a specified figure.
- First 5 Innings – You can make a moneyline, run line or total run bets that only relate to the first five innings of the match.
- Winning Margin – Pick the winning team and the margin of victory. You will usually need to pick the precise run amount, unless selecting the last option which will be x runs or more.
- Race to Runs – A bet on which team (if any, you can pick ‘neither’) will be the first to reach a specified run total.
- Correct Score – A tricky wager as baseball matches can be fairly high scoring but one that pays well if you can correctly guess the final run total for both teams.
- Total Hits – Will there be over/under a specified number of hits in the game? You may also find there is an ‘alternative total hits’ with different threshold amounts.
- Extra Innings? – Here you can bet yes or no on whether there will be additional innings in the match following a regular game tie.
Player props (or player bets) are another popular way of betting on baseball and are not so concerned with how the match pans out.
Instead, they focus on the performance of a selected player.
- Pitcher Outs – The number of outs a pitcher will claim, over or under a set amount.
- Pitcher Strikeouts – The number of batters a pitcher will strikeout during the match.
- Player Runs – The number of runs a player will register, usually a choice between over/under 0.5.
- To Hit a Home Run – A bet on a specific player to hit a home run at any point during the game.
- 1st Plate Appearance – Predicting what will happen during a selected player’s first plate appearance: single base, extra base, walk/HBP, strikeout, or any other outcome.
- Player Total Bases – A bet on the combined total of bases a player will register during the match. This can either come as an over/under bet or a milestone bet where you back them to reach a set number.
- Player Total Hits – Select a player and bet on how many hits they will amass during a game. As above this can either be as over/under or for them to reach a milestone, for example 3+.
Other Types of Bets
Betting on individual markets pre-game is one way of betting on baseball, and a popular one at that, but it is far from your only option.
This is not something you will find offered by every online betting site but an increasing number are offering bet builders for bigger baseball clashes. This offers the possibility of mixing and matching markets from within the same game to create a fully tailored multi-leg bet. If available, you will see ‘bet builder’ or similar, listed as one of the market options. When selected you can combine any of the selections found within, making it a great way of getting a big-odds bet on just one game.
The other way of getting bigger odds when betting on baseball is to combine betting selections from different games and forge them into one bet. This is what is widely known as a parlay or accumulator bet. This enables you to put a single stake on the Mets, the Yankees and the Red Sox to win, for example. You will only receive money back from your bet though providing every one of your selections is a winner. Although the example given is a moneyline parlay, with this type of bet you are free to pick different markets from different games.
Like most sports, baseball is something you can bet on in play. When the action is underway, the odds will simply move from the pre-game section of a bookmaker’s website to the ‘live’ section. Here you will usually find there is a range of available betting markets as well as frequently updated odds. Although many bets will relate to the match outcome, live betting also facilitates many ‘quicker’ bets. This can include for example betting on the upcoming innings, next scoring player or next at-bat outcome
Rather than looking at the outcome of an individual match, outright bets in baseball allow you to bet on the season as a whole. The biggest outright bet is ‘to win the league/competition’. You may occasionally find outright markets for the Japanese NPB or Korean KBO but most focus on the MLB.
With the MLB you can find a small selection of outright bets such as the World Series winner, the league winner, the division winner, to make playoffs and the best regular season record. Additionally, you can bet on which players you think will collect individual awards such as the National League MVP (Most Valuable Player).
Important Rules for Baseball Betting
When betting on baseball it is wise to familiarise yourself with the main set of rules.
These can differ slightly between betting sites but you are likely to find that many operate using rules close to those provided below.
- Extra Innings – Action that occurs in any extra innings will count for all bets that relate to the whole game.
- Game Duration – At a minimum, betting markets tend to require at least five or more innings to be played for the purpose of settling active bets. This is unless the team batting are ahead after 4.5 innings. Some markets however require more innings, even the full nine (or 8.5 if the team winning is in bat) otherwise they will be made void.
- Mercy Rule – In the event of a mercy rule call (a game is stopped early because one team gains a huge, insurmountable lead) all bets will stand as per the score at the time.
- Postponements – Bets will usually be voided if the game does not take place at its originally scheduled time at its originally scheduled venue.
- Suspensions – If a game has begun but has been stopped midway through, usually by poor weather, bets will usually remain active providing the action resumes during the same or the next day.
- Player Props – If a pitcher does not throw a pitch in the game, or a batter does not make a plate appearance, bets on them will be refunded.
Baseball Betting Guides
Although it is one of the most popular sports in the USA, both for actually playing and for betting on, in the UK it is not widely played or even understood. It’s similar to rounders, but outside of PE at school most people never play. That means that most bettors won’t have too much experience when it comes to wagering on the sport.
The following articles will answer the most frequently asked questions surrounding the rules of baseball and betting on it, so if you have ever wanted to diversify your betting behaviour, or if you just want to double check something you think you already know, you should find the information you are looking for on this page.