How to Bet on MLB | Odds, Markets, and Tips

How to Bet on MLB

betJACK Training Camp
1 year ago
7 min read
Cleveland Guardians Jose Ramirez reacts after out against New York Yankees

MLB Betting Odds Explained

Before we get into the minutiae of baseball betting, we need to begin with an introduction to American betting odds. While sportsbooks can represent odds in two other formats - European (decimal) and British (fractional) - as a US-based bettor, you only need to worry about the American representation of odds. 

American odds are given as a whole number, the favorites are given negative odds, and the underdogs are given positive odds. Here’s an MLB moneyline example so you can see what we mean: 

Boston Red Sox (+170) vs. Cleveland Guardians (-150)

In this example, we can see that the Guardians are the favorites, while the Red Sox are the underdogs, as evidenced by their negative and positive odds. 

Should you agree with the sportsbook that the Guardians are likely to win the fixture, you would need to bet $150 to return a profit of $100. Conversely, if you think the Red Sox are capable of an upset, a $100 would yield a profit of $170.

In American odds, the underdog’s odds indicate how much you stand to win from a $100 bet, while the favorite’s odds show how much you are required to bet to win $100 in profit. Easy enough, right? 

This formula will serve you well as you build your MLB betting slip and applies to all MLB betting types, as introduced in the following section.

MLB Betting Types

Now that you’re able to grasp how American odds work, it’s time to look at the specific bets that you can place on MLB this season. In this section, we introduce the different MLB betting types and provide you with an example to help you understand how the odds work in practice. 

The MLB moneyline

As with betting on all sports, the MLB moneyline is the easiest bet to get started with. When you place a moneyline bet, your only job is to pick the winner of the match. It doesn’t matter how many runs are scored or who scores them - you’re only betting on the winner of the match at the end of regulation time. Here’s what an MLB moneyline could look like: 

New York Yankees (-200) vs. Cleveland Guardians (+165)

As explained above, you can easily identify the favorites by the negative odds and the underdogs by the positive odds. So, if you fancy the Guardians to win, you would need to bet $100 to return $165, while a $200 bet on the Yankees would return $100 in profit if they win the match. 

Given the simplicity associated with picking the winner, it’s a good idea to get started with moneyline bets when you’re familiarising yourself with MLB betting. When you have more confidence, you can crank things up a notch and proceed with the following bet types. 

The MLB run line (spread betting)

Spread betting is a super popular form of sports betting and in baseball, it’s more commonly referred to as run line betting. It’s essentially a handicap bet that levels the playing field, encouraging bettors to back the underdogs and favorites in equal measure. 

In an MLB run line, the underdog is given a specific number of points as a headstart, while the favorite is docked points, which serves as a handicap. For your selection to win, they must maintain their headstart or overcome their handicap. Here’s an MLB run line example: 

Baltimore Orioles -1.5 (-110) vs. Toronto Blue Jays +1.5 (+150)

In this example, the Orioles are the clear favorites to win the matchup, and the sportsbook has given them a 1.5-point handicap. Therefore, if you place a bet on the run line, the Orioles would need to win by at least two points for your bet to be successful. 

Conversely, if you fancy the Blue Jays to win and place a run line bet, provided that they lose by less than one run, you would win your bet. For instance, if the game finished 5-4 to the Orioles and you backed the Blue Jays in this run line example, you would still win your bet.

MLB totals betting (Over/Under)

Instead of picking a winning team when betting on MLB, you can place a wager on the total number of points you think will be scored in a particular matchup. Helpfully, you don’t have to predict the exact number of runs a team will score; instead, you merely bet that it will be over or under a predetermined totals line. Here’s what an MLB totals bet might look like: 

Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers (total points 9.5)

Over (-115) 

Under (-105) 

Your job in a totals bet is to predict the total number of points scored on the field. It doesn’t matter if the Tigers score all of them or if they share the points with the Twins. The only thing that matters is the total number of points scored. 

So, let’s say you predict a low-scoring game between these two, and you back the under. You will win your bet if nine or fewer points are scored in the game. However, if the game ends 7-3 in favor of the Twins and ten points are scored in total, you will lose. 

MLB Grand Salami

There’s no question that the MLB Grand Salami is the best-named bet in the business! Offered to MLB and NHL bettors, the Grand Salami invites you to predict the total number of points scored in an entire game week of fixtures, not just one game. In this respect, it’s like a totals bet parlay (more on this shortly). 

In a Grand Salami, the sportsbook will set the points line for a slate of fixtures, and your job is to bet on the over or under. For instance, you might be offered the following in an MLB gameweek: 

Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox 

New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Guardians 

Baltimore Orioles vs. Toronto Bluejays 

Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers 

Seattle Mariners vs. New York Mets 

Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics 

Over 52.5 (-120) 

Under 52.5 (-120)

Here, you will have to look carefully at the fixtures within the Grand Salami and decide whether you think the teams represented will contribute to the over or under before making your bet. It’s a great way to mix things up on your MLB betting slip. 

MLB parlay betting

The Grand Salami is a type of parlay bet and is super popular with baseball fans. But it’s not the only way to bring multiple selections together in the same bet, as there are multiple parlay bets you can build to increase the value of your betting slip. Here’s a simple moneyline MLB parlay bet example to show you how it could work: 

Orioles, Yankees, Guardians, and Mets to win +550 

In this moneyline parlay, you have picked four teams to win their respective fixtures at odds of +550, meaning that a $100 bet will return $550 if you’re correct. MLB parlay bets offer impressive odds, but you need to remember that should one team let you down, your entire bet is bust! So, you need to study form and injuries carefully before placing a wager on an MLB parlay to ensure you’re not caught out.

MLB prop betting

Proposition betting (prop betting for short) is exceedingly popular in most sports, and baseball is no exception. MLB prop bets allow you to bet on individual actions within the game that aren’t tied to the end result, and they can be split into team and player props accordingly. Here are some MLB prop bet examples you might wish to place: 

MLB player prop examples

Total number of runs, RBIs, and hits 

Most strikeouts 

Will a player hit a home run?

MLB team prop examples 

The first team to score in the game 

Total home runs hit in the game 

Will there be a run scored in the second inning? 

MLB futures betting

Last but certainly not least, you can place an MLB futures bet if you want to back an outcome that may occur later in the season. In baseball, the obvious futures bet is which team will win the World Series, and you can get great odds if you place this bet before a ball is pitched. You can also place futures bets when the season gets underway, but the odds typically shorten to reflect each team’s performance in the early weeks of the season. 

How to Improve Your MLB Betting Performance

As you can see, there are many ways to bet on MLB this season. No matter which teams and players you back, the following tips will help you as you look to make a profit from MLB betting throughout the season: 

Bet with your head, not your heart

Baseball fans are super passionate; there’s no getting away from it. But you shouldn’t cloud your judgment with the support of a particular team. For this reason, it’s often a good idea not to back the team you support in a bet, as it’s challenging to listen to your head over your heart. 

Check the weather forecast.

The weather can have a significant impact on the outcome of a baseball game. For instance, strong winds usually result in more outs and fear runs, as homers often drop short. This is just one of the reasons why you should always check the weather forecast before committing to an MLB bet. 

Avoid big favorites

The biggest baseball teams, like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Cubs, are often big favorites, mainly when playing at home. Instead of blindly backing them, look for fixtures with tighter odds, or consider placing a run-line bet to level the playing field somewhat. 

Study form and injuries

You know the saying - form is temporary, class is permanent. Even the best teams and players dip in and out of form, so read up and study the recent performances of each team in MLB to find opportunities to back the underdogs when they have a good chance of winning. You should also keep abreast of all injuries coming out of MLB, as teams typically underperform when they’re without their best players. 

Recap: How to Bet on MLB

You’re now all set to study the game week and place your bets on MLB. We hope you have found this guide helpful as you navigate through a sportsbook for the first time and that you fully understand the different MLB betting types available. 

All that’s left to say is that sports betting should be enjoyable, so remember to bet within your means and do your research into the markets before committing to a bet. If you do this, you should have a great time betting on MLB and hopefully make a profit throughout the season.

Share article on: