How to handicap baseball games
Even though handicapping in baseball works, in essence, very similarly to handicapping in other sports, in order to succeed in this type of betting in baseball, bettors need to take into consideration several different statistics and factors that could influence the final result, not to mention the crucial role that luck still plays in there.
Sports bettors agree that baseball is the most demanding and difficult sport to win money from, but that doesn’t mean it’s something impossible to achieve, especially if you do your research right and take advantage of one of the most popular and rewarding types of bets for baseball as it is handicap betting.
Handicap betting, also known as run line betting, involves giving an advantage or disadvantage to one team in terms of runs before the game starts, providing bettors with greater flexibility and freedom when placing their bets on a baseball match.
In this article we will expand on how handicap/run line betting works specifically on baseball, but if you’re interested in reading about a more detailed explanation of how handicap works in general, you can visit our previous article about it here.
So, going back to handicapping baseball games, when doing so you will come across a run line, which is the predetermined number of runs by which the favorite team (the team expected to win) is favored, or the underdog (the team expected to lose) is handicapped. The run lines are applied to even out the odds between the two teams and attract bettors to a game that, otherwise, wouldn’t have been very attractive.
Standard run lines usually begin at -1.5 for the favorite team and +1.5 for the underdog team; however, most sportsbooks will also offer alternate run line betting options for MLB games, even doing things like giving the favorite team a +3 advantage and the underdog team a -3 handicap.
While these alternate run lines may not be the most popular ones, the sportsbook can still benefit from the extra action (even if it’s little), and bettors can certainly benefit by having more options to pick and that allow them to choose the lines they feel the most confident in.
So, continuing with how handicapping in baseball actually works, as we mentioned before, you’ll have two different options to bet on: you can either choose to bet on the favorite team, which would be obliged to win by more than the specified number of runs for you to win your bet, or bet on the underdog team, which would be obliged to win the game or lose by less than the specified number of runs for you to win your bet.
For instance, let’s assume we have a final score of 3-5 in favor to Atlanta in a game between the Miami Marlins and the Atlanta Braves. The Braves were the favorite team and the Marlins the underdog, meaning that if you placed a handicap bet on the Braves (-1.5) your bet was successful because they won by more runs than the established on the spread, but if you placed a handicap bet on the Marlins (+1.5) your bet was unsuccessful because they lost by more runs than the established on the spread.
Keep in mind what we mentioned earlier about alternate handicap betting options, which allow you to bet on alternate run lines such as, for example, a -3 for the Braves or +3 for the Marlins. If we use that same 3-5 game we previously used as example, then the +3 for the Marlins would have given you the win because it covered the spread, but the -3 for the Braves would have made you lose the bet because the run difference was less than 3.
Of course, the odds associated with the handicap will vary based on the strength of the teams and the run line. Betting on the favorite will generally have lower odds, while betting on the underdog will have higher odds due to the added advantage.
But in general, as it happens with any form of sports betting, the most crucial aspect of successfully placing handicap bets in baseball is doing your research.
Research and analyze the teams, their form, the starting pitchers’ ERA, the team’s collective batting average, their injuries, the home advantage, their head-to-head matchups, the weather, and pretty much any other factor that may be relevant to the game and possible result.
Of course, there are factors that could affect your bet that are virtually impossible to predict such as fielding errors or errors in the decision-making from individual players, but that’s all part of the game and the main reason why they say baseball is the most difficult sport to predict and place bets on.
However, you shouldn’t get intimidated by that. Simply focus on what you can actually control which is making an informed decision based on statistics.
By thoroughly researching and analyzing relevant factors like the previously mentioned ones, you can develop a more comprehensive understanding of the game and make more informed handicap betting decisions in baseball, exponentially increasing your chances of winning.