I’ve been betting on NFL games for over four decades and on MLB games for three decades. The length of time I’ve been betting on each league doesn’t necessarily make me an expert, but it has given me a lot of data to compare.
Remember, your goal is always to make money, so every reason on this list is based on finding value and making a profit when you bet.
1. Run Lines
The number one thing I love about betting on Major League Baseball games is the run line. The run line is only available in MLB, and you won’t find anything like it in the NFL or NBA.
The NHL has a similar line, called the puck line. If you’re used to betting on NFL games, you might be a little confused the first time you see a run line.
But if you think of a run line as a cross between a point spread and a moneyline bet, it won’t take long to get up to speed. Here are two examples of run lines:
In this game, Houston is playing at Texas. If you bet on Houston, you give 1 ½ runs and bet $100 to win $160. If you bet on Texas, you get 1 ½ runs and bet $190 to win $100.
In this game, the Cubs are playing at the White Sox. If you bet on the Cubs, you get 1 ½ runs and bet $185 to win $100. If you bet on the White Sox, you give 1 ½ runs and bet $100 to win $155.
Many games in MLB are close, with the margin of victory only being one run. So, of course, any game decided by one run makes the run line bets important. Also, notice that if you bet on the team at 1 ½ runs, the team has to win by at least two runs for you to win the run line wager.
Because 1 ½ runs is such a large amount, you have to pay a large price when you get runs, and if you give the runs, you get a good price.
I prefer home teams that get 1 ½ runs, but betting on MLB is just like betting on any other sport. You have to handicap games to find value and bet the value. In other words, if the value is on the team giving runs, I bet on that side of the run line.
Betting on paper is how I learned to bet on all of the major sports before starting to bet with real money. It’s an inexpensive way to see if your handicapping is accurate and if you’re ready to make a profit betting on sports.
2. More Statistical Data Available
Here’s a tip that some professional baseball gamblers use. Don’t bet on any games the first week or two of the season.
Some players and teams have hot and cold streaks, and some players and teams are consistent. But you never know exactly what’s going to happen early in the season.
After you have a week or two weeks’ worth of data, you have a better chance to evaluate games effectively. The MLB season is long, and the money you save the first week or two of the season can be put to better use once you figure out your most profitable handicapping models.
As it gets deeper into each season, you have more data to work with. More data can be good or bad, so you need to learn how to work with large amounts of data.
As you gain experience handicapping MLB games, the important data is easier to see, and you learn what data you don’t need. Just don’t be too quick to discard data because just because it isn’t important with your current model doesn’t mean it’s not going to be valuable with a future model.
3. Multiple Games Every Day
Every MLB team has 162 regular season games scheduled, so there are 1,000’s of games played every season. And every day during the season, there are many games on the schedule.
Sportsbooks have to set lines on every game on the schedule. With so many games available, it means that the MLB betting siteshave more opportunities to make a mistake.
Sportsbooks do a good job setting lines, but they’re not perfect.
Compare the MLB season to the NFL season. The NFL season is only 17 games, with a limited number of games each week. The MLB season has many more games every week, and the season is much longer.
4. Advanced Statistical Tools
I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about advanced statistical tools in MLB because there are too many of them to cover in a post. And not all of them are valuable.
You can find many valuable tools on the hitting side, but most of the tools don’t do as well predicting pitching. I’m old school in many ways because I started betting on baseball games in the 1980s. At that time, there were no advanced statistical tools.
But you can’t get stuck in the past if you want to have the best chance to win in MLB. You have to use the tools that help you win, and if you’re not winning, you need to learn how to use the existing tools better.
To get started, learn about all of the available wins above replacement tools, which are also called WAR. Not all WAR tools are the same, so you have to find the ones that work the best for your style of handicapping.
I’ve found that a drop or increase in spin rate or velocity is a good performance prediction.
On the opposite side, if spin rate and velocity are trending up, the odds are that the performance will improve.
I’m not saying that it’s easy to make a profit betting on MLB, but it’s easier to make a profit betting on MLB than betting on the NFL. The NFL lines are tighter than MLB lines, but there are also other reasons why MLB is easier.
If you master run lines, you can quickly start making a profit in MLB. But the biggest advantage MLB gamblers have over NFL bettors is the number of games you can evaluate and the mountain of available statistics.