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Betting Tips for 2024 MLB Baseball Season

Mar 26, 2024 EST

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The MLB calendar is long, spanning thousands of games across the spring, summer and fall.

The MLB season is kind of like the desktop wallpaper on your computer. It’s always there in the background, so you get to choose when you want to admire it.

But for bettors, the MLB season can seem like an oasis in the desert when the NFL, NBA, NHL and college sports go on hiatus in the summer. The other major gambling markets during that time of year are golf tournaments that only occur on the weekend and tennis tournaments that can sometimes occur in the middle of the night.

With so many games and betting options to choose from, baseball can seem overwhelming for new bettors. Fortunately, there are some strategies that can help you navigate the long season.

With that in mind, here are 10 MLB betting tips to help with your baseball betting this summer.

1. Matchups Matter

While records and team talent are important, daily matchups are just as, if not more, important when it comes to single-game betting.

This is especially important when it comes to betting on hitter props. You should always look at a hitter’s batting average and on-base percentage against an opposing starter before placing a prop bet on him.

If he hasn’t faced that pitcher much, see how he fares against pitchers of the same handedness (i.e., against left-handed pitchers or right-handed pitchers).

2. Fade Big Favorites

Will the Los Angeles Dodgers and Shohei Ohtani be a powerhouse in 2024? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that you should bet on them to win every game.

The Dodgers will be moneyline favorites in most of the games they play in, so there isn’t much value in betting on them to win. They’ll likely lose at least 50 or 60 games, because even the best teams in MLB history have never won more than 116 games in a regular season.

If you like a heavy favorite’s matchup, bet them on the runline instead of the moneyline. The odds will be closer to even, so there’s more of an opportunity to profit there than on the moneyline.

3. Betting Against the Public

This falls into the same category as fading favorites, but don’t be afraid to go against the grain, especially if you’ve found a potential statistical advantage.

The public wants to bet on big favorites, star players and overs. While there’s a time and place for that, you can often find profit in fading the public and taking advantage of plus odds elsewhere.

As an example, let’s say the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins are playing in a game that features two journeyman pitchers and has a total set at 8.5. The Over would likely have more action because of the pitching matchup, which could lead to the odds being juiced -115 to the Over.

In that case, it’s worth taking a look at the matchup to see if there’s value in fading the public. Maybe one of the pitchers throws an offspeed pitch that the opposing team struggles with or perhaps one of the team’s sluggers is mired in a slump.

This won’t be the case for every game (sometimes the public is backing the right bet), but it’s important to see if you can find value in zigging when the public zags.

When it comes to the futures market, the New York Yankees are a team that’s constantly overrated by the public. The Yankees have +800 odds to win the 2024 World Series (11.1% implied probability) and +450 odds to win the American League (18.2% implied probability) at Caesars Sportsbook.

However, the Yankees have been perennial disappointments in October for decades. In the last 20 postseasons, they’ve won exactly one pennant and one World Series. They’ve now gone 14 straight seasons without a pennant, so the public tends to put too much stock in their talent and reputation instead of focusing on their actual accomplishments.

The Houston Astros, who have made seven straight ALCS appearances and won four of the last seven AL pennants, are much more realistic bets at +500 and should probably be favored over New York.

In other words, don’t get caught up in public perception, because it’s not always based in reality. Let data and trends be your guide.

4. Weather the Storm

Among major North American sports, baseball is impacted the most by weather. This is more relevant in April when it’s still cold and rainy in large parts of the country, but it’s something to keep in mind as the season goes along.

Make sure to check the weather forecast before placing your baseball wagers, especially if it’s on an Over/Under or a prop bet. Warmer, drier weather tends to increase offense by helping the ball travel farther (see Coors Field), while cooler, more humid weather tends to decrease offense. The wind can also be a factor depending on the direction it’s blowing.

You may also want to avoid prop bets in a game that could be shortened by rain. If a game only lasts five or six innings, there will be fewer chances for pitchers to record strikeouts and batters to record hits.

Fangraphs also has a weather splits leaderboard that lets you measure player stats based on factors like temperature, barometric pressure, elevation, wind speed, wind direction and air density.

If it looks like a game could be impacted by the weather, reference this leaderboard when drawing up your bet.

5. Long Division

While MLB teams don’t play as many divisional games as they used to, they’re still valuable betting opportunities when it comes to betting the underdog.

Divisional opponents always have more experience and information about each other, which can lead to more opportunities for an upset.

The best kind of divisional underdog to back is one at home given that home teams have an inherent advantage in baseball. Historically, teams have a .530 winning percentage at home compared to .470 on the road – a significant difference.

If you notice there’s a home underdog in a divisional game, you should look at how their starting pitcher has done in his career against the opponent (you can easily see that split on a player’s Baseball-Reference page) and go from there.

Note that this strategy tends to work better with evenly-matched teams. First-place teams can easily beat up on last-place teams once they become too familiar with their pitchers, which explains how the AL West-winning Astros went 19-7 with a plus-47 run differential against the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A’s in 2023.

6. Advanced Stats are Your Friend

MLB advanced stats can be overwhelming but informative when making a player prop bet.

Here are some of the best ones to look at:

  • Exit velocity: This stat tracks the speed at which a ball comes off a player’s bat. While hard-hit balls can still be outs, they’re more likely to fall for hits and also reflect a batter’s power. For pitchers, low exit velocity is a sign that they’re keeping the ball out of the middle of the zone and limiting hard contact. This stat is important when making hitter and pitcher prop bets, especially hits recorded or allowed.
  • Barrels: A barrel is a batted ball event with an exit velocity and launch angle that’s led to a minimum .500 batting average. A high barrel number usually correlates to a high home run total. For example, when Aaron Judge hit 62 home runs in 2022, he led MLB with 106 barrels – nearly 30 more than anyone else. This is a great indicator of how often a player is squaring up the ball. This stat is important when making hitter home run prop bets. Before betting on a player to hit a home run, it’s worth taking a look at his barrel rate to see how often he’s squaring the ball up.
  • xwOBA: This statistic is the holy grail for hitters, as it shows how a player is doing based on his quality and amount of contact. This stat eliminates defense from the equation, instead focusing on exit velocity, launch angle and sprint speed. If a player is mired in a slump but still has strong xwOBA, that shows he’s been playing well but has been stricken by bad luck. This stat is incredibly important when making player prop bets, as it’s a good predictor of future success for a batter. It could tell you whether a hitter is likely to heat up or cool down.
  • xERA: The pitcher version of xwOBA, this stat is drawn from the amount and quality of contact that a pitcher gives up, thus eliminating defense and ballpark factors from the equation. This can be a good indicator of whether a pitcher’s true ERA is legit or has been influenced by good (or bad) luck. This stat is important when making pitcher prop bets. If a pitcher has a high ERA but a low xERA, then it might be worth betting the Over on their outs recorded or strikeouts since they’re due for positive regression.

7. No Injury is Irrelevant

A basic principle, sure, but it’s important to remember that every transaction or injury matters.

There’s no doubt the Astros would be worse off in the long run if they lost Yordan Alvarez to a long-term injury, but an injury to a bench player like Mauricio Dubón could have a significant impact on a single game.

Let’s say Dubón is day-to-day with an injury and is forced to miss a game against the Texas Rangers. While he’s hurt, he’s not hurt enough to go on the injured list, so now Houston is essentially down a man.

And since he’s a utility player who provides versatility, manager Joe Espada may not be able to pinch-hit or make a necessary defensive substitution at the end of the game that could help his team win.

While it may seem like a small thing, that lack of flexibility could be the difference between a team winning or losing in a close ballgame, so it’s important to pay attention to the injury report when making a bet.

For that reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until starting lineups are released before placing your bet. If a team’s best hitter or starting pitcher gets scratched, it could have a major impact on the game and cause bettors to cash out early.

8. Follow the Trends

In Game 1 of the 2023 NLDS between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, most sportsbooks set Clayton Kershaw’s outs recorded number at 15.5, meaning you could bet on whether or not he’d throw more or less than five innings.

That low line led to some people taking the Over given Kershaw’s reputation as an ace and a future Hall of Famer.

But all it took was a little research to see the Under was better. Kershaw had surpassed five innings in only one of eight starts since returning from a shoulder injury, so betting on the Over was risky.

It turned out to be a costly risk when Kershaw recorded just one out in a blowout loss.

While not every scenario is that cut and dry, don’t let a sportsbook’s line distract you from what the team and player have done recently..

MLB umpires are human. They sometimes fall into habits when they’re behind the plate.

Some have tighter strike zones that favor hitters, while others have larger strike zones that favor pitchers.

For example, games umped by Alfonso Márquez have a walk rate of 9.1%—the highest among umps with more than 200 games behind the plate. Meanwhile, games umped by Bill Miller have a walk rate of 7.3%—the lowest among umps who have called 200 games.

While teams have combined for similar batting averages in games they’ve umped (.252 for Márquez, .249 for Miller), Marquez’s games average half a run more than Miller’s because they feature more baserunners.

You can use that information to help inform your bets, especially if you’re wagering on the total or pitcher props.

10. Bullpen Usage

A lot of these tips have been in relation to starting pitching (and for good reason), but it’s also important to keep tabs on how taxed a team’s bullpen is.

If their closer threw 30 pitches the day before, he’ll likely be unavailable the next day, meaning that a potential save opportunity could go to a less-seasoned pitcher.

This can be important when betting the total, as there’s a greater chance of a late-inning bullpen implosion.

A thin bullpen could also lead to a fruitful live betting opportunity, especially if you feel the lack of a certain pitcher will lead to a dramatic (and potentially profitable) late-game swing.

Similarly, it can be smart to fade teams at the end of a long road trip that might be worn down. You might be better off backing a well-rested team at home.

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