Couple of Tips Before Betting the 2017 MLB Season

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 2:16 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 29, 2017 2:16 PM UTC

Opening Day for the 2017 MLB season is hours away. Here a couple of betting tips to help you build a solid baseline wager and get off to a profitable start.

Handicap the Long Ball

Home runs were up 17 percent in 2015 and 15 percent last season. It is just the fifth time in MLB history with a double-digit increase in bombs in back-to-back years. The big question is why. Answers range from juiced balls to increasing pitch velocities, state-of-the-art steroids, launch-angle emphasis by hitters, the abandonment of a two-strike approach at the plate, and more. Overall, it’s likely a combination of each, in addition to other general changes to the game brought on by advanced analytics. The modus operandi in the last half decade is to build around team speed, defense, and high strikeouts. Fielding shifts are causing batting averages to plummet league-wide, and the small ball continues to bleed out with sacrifice hits down five years in a row. One way to combat much of this is via the long ball—get the most bang for your buck at the plate. It’s not surprising to see prospects coming up with a career OPS in the .600s, though they have the potential to belt 40 home runs in a season.

Capitalize on the long ball phenomenon in the betting market, and remember: pitching typically trumps hitting in MLB. In the last two seasons, backing the favorite blindly versus an opponent slugging more home runs as a team has returned more than 2.5 percent profit. Only one other time has this angle returned money over the last 15 years. Chalk here implies the team most likely has a favorable starting pitching matchup, as the opponent with more home runs likely scores more on average. Long balls are not a common occurrence, so facing the big-hitting teams in this spot is a good foundation to construct a profitable wager. Home runs often come in bunches, or not at all. For what it’s worth, over the last two years, playoffs included, teams hitting more home runs in a game than their opponent are 2639-824 (76.2 percent) overall, returning 44.5 percent profit.


Dogs Bite Most Often in April

Sports with low-scoring outcomes can be a gold mine for underdog bettors. Historically, there is no better time to fade MLB favorites than in April. Outside of October and postseason baseball, it is the only month that has shown a positive return backing pups over the last 13 years. Oddsmakers, models, the betting public, hitters, pitchers, you name it, are attempting to get a handle on the new season and new teams.

Not every season is profitable backing blindly. In fact, only one in the last five has been. Nonetheless, when the dogs bite, they bite hard. Bettors returned more than 8 percent in 2008, 2009 and 2011, for example. One way to minimize loss is to favor road underdogs only. Although the returns can be smaller, they’re more consistent. Eight of the last 10 years have proven profitable, including the last three in a row.


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