Play Ball! Spring Training Games Begin Friday In Florida & Arizona

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, February 23, 2017 2:55 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 2:55 PM UTC

Are you ready for some baseball? It feels earlier than ever (it is because of WBC), but spring training games across Florida and Arizona officially began Friday. What should you know about betting on Grapefruit and Cactus League games?

So you want to bet on spring training games? It’s mostly a crapshoot, in all honesty, and the MLB spring odds on every game will show that. You won’t see one team hugely favored over another because the sportsbooks are just like you and me: they have no idea which players will be in the lineup. That’s not to say you can’t get a small advantage here and there.

Generally Lean The Home Team

If all things are equal in a regular-season Major League Baseball game, then you should bet the home side simply because it bats last (FYI: spring games can end in a tie because the clubs don’t want to play a bunch of extra innings). For the most part, though, the teams in the spring will play their main guys at home and rest them in away games. The longer a road trip a team takes – this is more applicable in the Grapefruit League where there are larger distances between spring camps in Florida – the more likely a manager is to leave some key guys at home.

Any Split-Squad Games?

It goes without saying that if the Twins’ split-squad team is playing the Red Sox’s full team that you should back Boston. Obviously, split-squad clubs won’t be including the best players on a roster. Check out the full spring schedule.

Starting Pitching Doesn’t Much Matter

You won’t see starters go more than a couple innings, especially early in spring. The first few weeks are simply for getting the pitchers’ arms into shape. While starting pitchers are vital in betting regular-season games, it means next to nothing in the spring.

Check Out Injuries

As guys get into shape from a long offseason, there are going to be a lot of sprains or pulled muscles, etc. For example, Toronto star third baseman Josh Donaldson will miss 2-3 weeks with a calf strain. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre will miss around the same timeframe with a similar injury. Orioles closer Zach Britton has a quad strain. You may not see these guys much if at all this spring. It’s all about getting ready for the regular season – veterans don’t need the spring as much as younger players. Make sure to check injury reports for any teams you are considering backing. 

Cubs Might Be Bad Bet

The Cubs and Indians played longer than any teams last season as they met in the World Series. Thus you might see their respective managers, Joe Maddon and Terry Francona, really take it easy on their guys this spring because they played a month longer than clubs that missed the postseason. Maddon already has said he will proceed with caution on all his Big 3 starting pitchers of Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jake Arrieta.

Spring Records Mean Nothing

The Arizona Diamondbacks had the best record by far in the Cactus League last year at 24-8 (Snakes have benefit of not leaving home). They finished 69-93 in the regular season and cleaned house. The Cubs, meanwhile, were 11-19 in the spring and won a major-league best 103 regular-season games on the way to their first World Series title since 1908. The Minnesota Twins had one of the records in the 2016 Grapefruit League at 19-11 and they finished with the majors’ worst regular-season record at 59-103. Don’t go changing your futures MLB win totals picks because of spring results – only if there’s a key injury.


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