Major League Baseball is widely considered one of the most important leagues to secure a handle on for betting purposes, thanks to both the long season and the summer months when it dominates the sports landscape. Like any other sport, there are several trends to be aware of when it comes to handicapping the MLB. Some of these trends have proven themselves more reliable than others. Here are three MLB betting trends to trust.
Backing Divisional Underdogs
While there will certainly be outliers to this trend, (see the Baltimore Orioles woeful 2-17 record last season against the division-rival New York Yankees), it is generally a profitable strategy to back underdogs in divisional games. Given that the teams within a respective division all play each other 19 times a year, there is an increased level of familiarity with the opponent. Data collected between 2005 and 2018 supported this trend, as divisional underdogs pulled in +83.72 units of profit while underdogs in non-divisional games lost a tremendous amount, -574.62 units to be exact. If you also account for divisional underdogs on the road, the profitability of this trend increases due to the public’s tendency to overvalue home-field advantage. This leads to greater value on the visiting team both in divisional matchups and many inter-division games as well.
Avoiding Big Favorites
Siding with heavy favorites when regularly betting the MLB is a recipe for disaster. Because the sportsbooks know the public will be looking to bet the favorites, they will almost always be overpriced. Similar to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, you will routinely find that public MLB teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers have inflated lines due to their notoriety alone. While heavy favorites win over 60% of the time going back to 2005, attempting to bet those favorites regularly results in nearly 200 lost units. Last year provided a classic example of why laying the lumber on heavy favorites is risky business when the Detroit Tigers defeated the Houston Astros as +435 underdogs. You would’ve had to lay $560 on the Astros in that game just to win $100! The profits generated from betting heavy favorites are minimal and the losses can be drastic.
For those used to betting the point spread in the NFL or NBA, the run line offering on MLB games is slightly different in that it is fixed at a spread of 1.5 for every game. The moneyline favorite always earns the -1.5 spread on the run line while the moneyline underdog is +1.5. With that said, the underdog team catching 1.5 on the run line is almost always the favorite in terms of the juice on the wager due to the high propensity of one-run outcomes in the MLB. Over the course of a season, the total amount of games decided by 1-run usually falls between 28% and 32%. This equates to every 3 out of 10 games being decided by a single run for a given ballclub. By tracking the final scores of each team throughout the season, you will get a pretty good idea of when a one-run decision is due, or long overdue.