Baseball is one of my favorite sports to handicap. The reasons are fairly straightforward. There are games every day. They play in series so you get the same opponents for a few days in a row. The starting lineups don’t change a whole lot from game-to-game.
This page is dedicated to finding you winning MLB betting strategies. This will enable you to do your own baseball handicapping and win at a higher rate. Of course, if you don’t want to do the work then we have a roster of top MLB handicappers who you can subscribe to. That way you just wait for their premium baseball picks to hit your inbox, enter your wagers, and collect.
What our experts do is find a system, angle, or trend and then research it in-depth. If you have an idea you want us to investigate please feel free to send an email to the MLB Baseball Free Picks staff and we will get on it as quickly as possible.
Even if the system is not profitable for baseball betting we might still do an article on it. Learning what doesn’t work can sometimes save you from making bad bets, just as learning what does work enables you to make smarter wagers. In order for us to add an angle to our MLB handicapping arsenal it needs to make logical sense and we need to see it have success for a long period of time.
Here is our general advice on how you too can with with your handicapping. Our general betting tips might also give you an idea of what to do, and what not to do, to turn a profit this season.
1. Money Management
The last thing you want to do is lose your bankroll. Honestly, losing streaks are going to happen. You need to manage your money so you not only don’t go broke, but have enough to fire away when the inevitable winning streak quickly follows.
It all starts with opening accounts at more than one online sports book. Preferably, they offer dime lines. That means that there is only 10 cents of juice between the underdog and the favorite, but if you have more than one set of odds to choose from, you can drive that down to almost nothing.
2. Know the Time of Year
The way I look at it there are five distinct time periods to a baseball season. April, May, June through August, September, and then the postseason. Each has it’s own variations you need to adapt too.
I find April to be a very profitable month. I put a lot of time in studying the moves each team made in the offseason and how everyone did during spring training. This gives me a big advantage during the first month because the books haven’t adjusted their lines enough. The public has no idea who is going to be good and who is over-rated, but I do.
In May the oddsmakers start to catch up and you have to adjust. But, we can still have an advantage. Which teams that improved over the offseason are off to cold starts? Which teams are overachieving based on our preseason expectations. There is still advantages to be had here.
During the summer months of June through August you want to be more selective. Teams have kind of identified themselves so your offseason work no longer gives you the edge that it did the first two months. Right now you want to monitor who is coming back from injury, who recently went down, who got traded, and so on.
September is when teams start calling up young players to give them some playing time. It’s also when contenders are fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot. You have to be careful here, but the books start focusing more of their time on football so there is plenty of opportunities still on the board.
When the playoffs hit every game is important. No team is going to take a night off. But, the lines are pretty tight. You can’t bet every game, you have to know when you have the advantage and when you don’t. Being willing to pass can turn a losing bettor into a winner.
This might be more important for totals than anything else, but it’s still worth noting for sides too. Basically if the wind is blowing in you have to be skeptical of playing the over, and if it’s blowing out you aren’t likely to hit an under. Our article on MLB weather factors will give you the full details.
4. Starting Pitchers
Every bettor puts an emphasis on handicapping starting pitchers. I think most people probably look at this a little too hard. Once you get past the aces, a lot of pitchers start looking fairly similar. And rookie starters are even more difficult due to the lack of data.
When you are researching starters look at a couple things. Look past just the simple ERA numbers. You can use Jeff Sagarin’s data which gives you more information on what the pitcher’s ERA should be. This takes out short term variance and luck to give you a more accurate picture of how good they are.
I ignore wins and losses for the most part. The team’s offense can make up for poor pitching, or it can cause a decent start to be wasted. Those numbers aren’t going to tell the story of how the pitcher has been throwing.
The guy’s WHIP is important. That is the walks plus hits a pitcher gives up per inning pitched. This tells you how many baserunners he’s allowing. The lower the better because it limits the other team’s chances.
Home run rate is a nice number. You don’t want a starter who gives up a lot of meatballs the opposition sends flying over the fence.
I also look at how a starter has done against the opposing team. Is it their first time facing the lineup? That normally benefits the starter. Do they have a lot of success against the opposing team?
How are the pitcher’s splits? The most obvious is home v. road. Some guys just do better in the friendly confines of their own park. Some guys aren’t rattled by the opposing crowds when on the road. You also want to look at day v. night games. Hitters can sometimes see certain pitchers better in one setting over another.
How have their last three starts been? Are they on a roll or in a slump? Sometimes a bad stretch can be a sign of a potential injury too. The most recent numbers tell more than season long stats. If it’s August and September do you really care about the bad starts he had in March or April? With that being said, you have to also factor in how their recent opposition was. Did he mow down weak hitting teams to boost his numbers? Was he hit hard in Colorado? Take things a step further to get a real edge.
Is he on short rest? That is a popular strategy in the postseason but it hasn’t panned out. Sometimes a long layoff can be detrimental to the player as well.
Once you get a feel for the starters then you must decide whether to list them or not. If you like the starter on the team you are backing or you hate the one on the team you are going against, list them.
The part of pitching that is sometimes overlooked is handicapping the bullpens. The starter is not likely to last the entire game. Most managers pull their guys when they approach 100 pitchers these days. You need to know how long he normally lasts so you can factor how many innings the pen is going to have to eat up.
Can your team finish off the game when they have a lead? Look at the bullpen ERA’s for each team to get an idea.
Even more important might be the workload. Daily Baseball Data has a nice chart on bullpen usage so you can monitor if the team’s closer is gassed, or if a team has used a lot of innings out of their relievers lately.
You certainly can’t ignore the lineups. What’s important here? Well it starts with who is playing and who isn’t. Check Rotowire a few hours before game time to make sure none of the best batters are sitting on the pine.
Advanced stats can also help you find under-valued and over-valued teams. I like FanGraphs. You can see which teams have a high walk or strikeout rate and compare that with the opposing starter. You can see who has gotten lucky with batting average on balls in play. Go as deep down the rabbit hole as you are comfortable with.
Know the split stats for each lineup so you can evaluate the matchup. How does the team do against left or right-handed pitchers and how they do when home and away. Some teams are built for certain parks and if they are playing somewhere different it throws them off. Sometimes teams don’t perform well at night or during the day. These are the splits you need to focus on.
Baseball is a streaky sport. I don’t like backing teams that have lost a few games in a row and I won’t fade teams that are on a winning streak. Teams that are hot feed off of the energy. Teams struggling start getting in their own heads.
You need to know who is playing and who isn’t for each team. That can also include if a team is getting a boost from a player returning from injury. It can also mean players are trying to play through a nagging problem and aren’t quite their original selves. I try to avoid starters their first appearance back from the disabled list.
9. Ball Parks
Teams build their rosters to fit their home ballparks. Why? Because half of their games are going to be played there. Now that leaves a big advantage when you start looking at visitors. Do these teams have the lineups to play well in the opposing parks? A team stacked with high power, low average guys is going to struggle in a big park. Sometimes teams who manufacture runs have trouble keeping up in a high scoring stadium. Knowing these nuances can give you a significant edge.
Along with this you need to check out how teams do on grass versus turf and maybe outdoors versus playing in a dome.
10. Fade the Public
My last piece of advice is to fade the public. Especially when the favorite teams are playing a nationally televised game. Those are teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs. Everyone jumps on their bandwagon because they want to watch their team win and make a little money at it while they are at it. The other thing public bettors love is playing the over. So in national TV spots the under tends to show a little bit of value.
If you don’t have the time to look into each of these factors every single day, then start by monitoring the free MLB picks our experts release. Soon, you’ll have a bigger bankroll and the confidence to start tailing their stronger bets.
One of the forgotten components of the game are the men in blue. The umpires have a massive impact on the game. If the man behind the plate has a big zone then the pitchers are going to be able to paint corners, keep the ball way down, and the game is going to be tight and low scoring. On the other hand if the ump is calling things tight, the pitcher is going to have to throw the ball right down the pipe, giving the hitters the advantage.
Strategies That Work
We are going to list some strategies or systems that work below. It’s important to remember that sometimes they quit working. The odds makers or other players start to figure things out and the lines adjust. Don’t fall into the trap of continuing to bet something after it loses it’s edge.