It's finally official. Major League Baseball is back.
On Tuesday the MLB Players Association and owners tied up the final loose ends needed to start the season. The players agreed to report to their respective ballparks by July 1 to begin spring training and also signed off on the health and safety measures put forth by the league. The 60-game season will start on July 24 and end on Sept. 27.
The official 2020 schedule is expected to be released within the next 2-3 days.
Here are several other key details to know...
-All games will be played in home ballparks with no fans in the stands
-Extra inning games will start with a runner on 2nd base
-Each team will play 10 games against their divisional opponents (40 total) and 20 interleague games vs opponents in the same geographical region
-The trade deadline will be Aug. 31
-With no Minor Leagues, teams will have a 60-man player pool
Another important change includes the universal Designated Hitter. Over the last few days, it has been unclear whether there would be a DH for both leagues. But it was included in the final agreement. This marks the first time in the history of baseball that the DH will be played in the National League.
The universal DH is one of the most consequential changes that bettors need to plan for when handicapping games this season, especially when it comes to totals. In theory, replacing the pitcher with a DH will lead to more offense, and therefore, more runs in National League games and Interleague games. Surely, the oddsmakers will bake this into the cake when setting totals. But before they adjust, could we see an early run on overs in the first couple weeks of the season?
Historically, unders have been a smarter bet than overs. Why? Because the public is psychologically biased toward betting overs. They want to root for hits, home runs and watch high scoring, entertaining games. The oddsmakers know this public bias and shade totals further toward overs, forcing casual bettors to take overpriced and inflated numbers.
However, due to the juiced ball and the new universal DH, could we see overs make a comeback? Also, keep in mind that the season will begin in late July when it's hot and humid outside, so we won't have to deal with a cold, dead-ball April. Historically, heat and humidity benefit overs as the air is less dense and the ball travels further. Also, scorching heat benefits offensive players. They can wait their turn at bat in the shaded dugout with fans while the pitchers sweat and bake in the sun, making them more prone to mistakes.
Here are a few of my favorite over betting systems to keep an eye on this season (historical records since 2005 via Bet Labs Sports).
-When the wind is blowing out at least 10 MPH, the over is 53%
-When the wind is blowing out, it's at least 80 degrees and it's a divisional game the over is 55%
-When the wind is blowing out at Yankee Stadium, the over is 56%
-When the wind is blowing out at Citizens Bank Park (Phillies), the over is 60%
-When the Chase Field (Diamondbacks) roof is open the over is 54%
-Best over home plate umpires: Manny Gonzalez (57%), David Rackley (58%), Adrian Johnson (55%), Paul Emmel (54%), Jim Wolf (54%), Sam Holbrook (54%)
-Best over teams from last season: Pirates (60%), Red Sox (58%), Mariners (56%), Yankees (54%)