After a gloomy six-week stretch in which the return of sports seemed like an unreachable fantasy, May has ushered in optimism and bettors are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. UFC returns this Saturday. Then NASCAR and golf follow suit in the coming weeks.
Even better, we finally got some good news about the first "major sport" returning. Yesterday reports surfaced that MLB is planning on sending a "return to baseball" proposal to the players union sometime in the next few days. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, spring training could return in mid-June with the regular season kicking off as soon as July 1.
Former Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe has been teasing the return of baseball for a few days now. He has been gaining notoriety on Twitter for breaking news before anyone else. According to Plouffe, players from several different teams are being told to ramp up their activity and "get ready" for the July 1 start date.
In preparation for the eventual return of baseball, let's discuss five MLB tips to keep in mind as we bide our time until Opening Day.
1. Baseball is predominantly a moneyline sport: In football and basketball the most common bet type is the spread, which means you are usually betting on who will cover. Because baseball involves lower scoring games and lots of one-run margins of victory, you are mostly focusing on who will win the game straight up. The margin of victory doesn't matter. Spread betting exists in baseball, also known as the run-line, in which the dog is + 1.5 and the favorite -1.5, but it is a far-less popular bet compared to the moneyline.
2. Divisional dogs bark loudest: When betting spread and total sports like football and basketball you need to win 52.38% of your bets in order to break even assuming standard -110 juice. One of the beauties of baseball is that if you stay away from lots of big favorites and lean on "plus money" underdogs (think + 120, + 150, + 200) you can win at a sub 50% clip and still turn a profit. The key is focusing on divisional dogs. Divisional opponents play each other 19 times per year. As a result, they know each others' tendencies, ballparks, opposing players and overall styles. This built in familiarity levels the playing field and benefits the dog.
3. Correlative betting: When betting on an underdog, look for games with high totals. A high total would be considered 8.5 or higher, although with the juiced ball in recent years high totals are closer to 9 or more nowadays. Dogs perform better in games with high totals because the more expected runs scored leads to more variance and greater opportunities for upsets. On the flip side, if you're betting on a favorite look for lower totals, roughly 7.5 or less. In low total games, the fewer the amount of expected runs scored means it's more likely going to come from the better team, which benefits the favorite.
4: Pay attention to weather: When betting totals, you should always consider the weather. It can have a huge impact on an over or under bet. The easiest thing to look for is the wind (direction and speed). If the wind is howling out to dead-center field (think 10 MPH or more) that's a great edge for betting an over because it could push a warning track fly ball into a first-row homer. If the wind is blowing in, that could knock down a first-row homer into a warning track out, benefiting an under. Also, heat and humidity can benefit overs as pitchers bake in the sun and are more prone to mistakes. Plus humid air is less dense which makes the ball travel further.
5. Be prepared for volatility: Baseball is one of the best sports to bet on because there are roughly 15 games played every single day for 6+ months straight. As a result, bettors have countless opportunities to maximize their edge. However, baseball can also be very volatile. Throughout the course of the season there can be lots of ups and downs. You could have a terrible April but bounce back and have a great May or June. It can be a rollercoaster that tests your patience. The key is remaining disciplined. Try to limit your plays and don't be afraid to lay off if you don't have an edge. Bankroll management is hugely important when you're betting high volume. Don't get too high or too low based on your recent performance. Stay even keeled. It's a marathon, not a sprint when betting baseball.
Have a sports betting question for Josh? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.