What’s the best betting strategy for baseball in 2022?
It’s impossible to say.
That’s true because a wealth of good betting strategies exists. There’s not one strategy that will make a baseball bettor more successful than another. Instead, there’s a constellation of betting behaviors that can put MLB bettors in a decent position to win.
This post outlines 10 of the best betting strategies for baseball. Follow the advice in this post and your baseball bets will be safer over the long run.
1 – Back Underdogs in Divisional Games
Why do dogs perform better against divisional opponents?
You play against the other teams in your division 18 times. You might play non-divisional opponents just 7 times. Increased exposure to an opponent evens the playing field.
Looking at all regular season games since 2005, underdogs win 43.6% of their divisional games, compared to just 42% of their non-divisional games. That extra 1.6% makes bets on divisional underdogs a realistic way to improve your baseball winning percentage.
If you’d bet $100 on every underdog in a divisional game since 2005, you’d have claimed a 0.6% positive return on investment, earning about $8,000 along the way. It’s not the most profitable system in history, but it is profitable to some degree. The same bets on underdogs in non-divisional games would have produced a -3.5% ROI – not profitable at all.
Is backing underdogs in divisional games the best betting strategy for baseball?
It’s at the top of the list, anyway, but your mileage may vary.
2 – Back Run Line Dogs
Only four possibilities exist when you consider a run line bet: the favorite wins by two runs or more, the favorite wins by one, the favorite loses by one, or the favorite loses by two or more. The relative likelihood of these outcomes can teach you something about why it’s smart to back run line underdogs.
Underdogs win or cover the run line 61% of the time at home and 56% of the time on the road. Blindly backing home underdogs against the run line is a profitable baseball betting system, year in and year out. Most years, you can even profit by blindly backing road dogs on the run line.
3 – Back Home Dogs in These Two Situations
Baseball bettors in the know love home underdogs. This is especially true in two specific situations.
When a home underdog is coming off a long road trip, they seem to react well to arriving back at home. Underdogs playing at home after 10 games on the road win about 49% of the time. That’s plenty of wins to make up a profitable system when you’re getting plus money odds.
Teams listed as home underdogs after they scored 10 or more runs in their previous game are also big winners. They win about 47% of the time, getting average odds of +124. That’s profitable to the tune of 3.3% over time. You won’t find many of these opportunities in a given season, but when you see it you should pounce.
4 – Understand the Impact of Wind
Baseball is a game of inches. That cliché may not even be sufficient, since a hit may be foul or fair based on a few millimeters. Because small changes in the environment can lead to big changes in the box score, you have to understand the impact of weather on baseball to be a successful MLB bettor.
Specifically, you need to understand how wind affects the game. Quick science lesson – when wind blows away from home plate, runs increase. The opposite is also true – when a wind is blowing in from the outfield, runs decrease.
Use this information to influence basically any baseball bet. Game totals may be good or bad bets, depending on the actual weather conditions at game time. The same goes for prop bets on player performance and even run line performance.
5 – Keep Tabs on Pythagorean Wins
Pythagorean Wins are essentially just a nerdy way for baseball fans to talk about a team’s expected W-L record. Based on Bill James Pythagorean Theorem of baseball, this expected W-L rate is based on runs scored compared to runs allowed.
By keeping tabs on how a team should be performing, and comparing it to their real-world performance, you can get a sense of a team’s future prospect. This is an especially valuable tool at mid-season, just when bettors start to face a more informed set of odds and increased wagering from the betting public.
This is particularly useful when placing futures bets or handicapping a future season. A team that overperforms compared to its expected W-L record is not likely to have repeat success, while a team that underperformed in a previous year may be ready to have an explosive year.
6 – Parlay Two Heavy Favorites
Straight wagers on heavy favorites are a safe bet, but ones that won’t result in much of a payout.
When you can identify two heavy favorites that are likely to win, consider parlaying them together. Not only will your cost to bet on these two teams go down, but your payout (if they win) will be larger. Combining two favorites into a single bet is more rewarding than backing a single favorite.
7 – Be Aware of Bullpen Usage
The frequency of relief pitching has been on the rise since 2010. We’ve got around 700 relief pitchers in the league today – that number in 2010 was just shy of 500. MLB teams are averaging three relievers per game, with about 19 pitches per reliever per appearance.
A team’s bullpen is almost as important as its starting pitcher. Since some teams go to the bullpen more frequently than others, it’s important to understand how bullpen usage factors into any MLB bet you make.
8 – . . . and Watch Out for Bullpen ERA
Obviously, if we’re considering the amount a team uses the bullpen, we need to consider a team’s bullpen ERA and how that affects their likelihood of winning.
Look at the 2021 season for an example of how a team’s bullpen ERA can predict success. The top four teams in terms of overall bullpen ERA were the Dodgers, the Giants, the Rays, and the Yankees. All four teams made the playoffs. The bottom four teams (Cincinnati, Washington, Arizona, and Baltimore) missed the playoffs.
A team that likes to go to its bullpen (and has a solid bullpen ERA) should get your attention in favor of a team that’s better on paper but suffers in terms of bullpen usage and overall bullpen ERA.
9 – Consider First Five Innings Bets
If you don’t want to worry about the bullpen, you can wager on just the first five innings. This type of bet is unique to baseball. The score at the end of five innings is considered the final score for the purpose of this bet.
This allows bettors to focus exclusively on the starting pitching matchup. However, depending on how a starter’s game is going, the bullpen may get involved as well. That’s what makes it a risky wager.
If you’re betting on a team that has incredible starting pitching but a weak set of relievers (we’re looking at you 2019 Washington Nationals), you might consider wagering on just the first five innings instead.
10 – April is (Not) the Cruelest Month
Don’t be scared to bet early in the season. Bet in April with confidence, knowing that the house is at its weakest at this early stage of the season.
For bettors, April is probably the best time to bet on baseball. Teams are just beginning to gel, and oddsmakers haven’t quite got all the dynamics figured out yet. Betting on MLB games in April puts you up against the book at its weakest.
All the tips on this list are more powerful in the month of April. Underdogs overperform while favorites underperform. It’s a crazy and chaotic time – and trends have developed that can help guide your early-season wagers. Backing underdogs blindly in April has been profitable more seasons than not. Going back to 2005, MLB underdogs in April win about 45% of the time, which (paired with plus money odds) represents a slightly profitable system.
Conclusion – The Best Betting Strategy for Baseball
The best betting strategy for baseball in 2022 is the one that helps you win more often, or at least buffers your losses so that they don’t hurt your bankroll as much. The ten tips here can make your season of baseball betting less frustrating.
Make use of the advantages built into the baseball betting market by incorporating these tips into your MLB betting strategy.