Baseball Betting Systems and Strategies

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Baseball betting can be one of the more rewarding sports gambling activities available. The data-driven nature of the game, wealth of easily-tracked advanced statistics, and 162-game season all create an environment ripe for winning bets. All it takes is a handicapper willing to put the time into analyzing data, a little luck, and the right betting systems or strategies.

There are many different approaches to betting on Major League Baseball games. Most focus on picking underdogs since they win more often in baseball than in any other major sport. However, there are also methods dedicated to run line or totals betting that can be utilized with both favored or underdog clubs.

Additionally, there are systems that specialize in moneyline bets, run line wagers, and many more factors. While no strategy or policy is correct 100% of the time, they can drastically improve your chances of becoming a successful sports gambler.

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Regardless, no matter the system or strategy, the name of the game is identifying value and applying the right staking plan to ensure a long-term profit.

In this article, we are going to share some baseball betting strategies and proven systems. We will also be discussing the thought processes behind them and why they work. When you’re done here, you should be ready to start breaking down data sets and identifying some smart wagers. If not, we’ve always got more guides to help increase your familiarity and confidence in your gambling.

MLB Futures Betting

What’s great about MLB futures betting is that the payout is significantly larger than if you wait until just before the actual World Series or after the season has already started. However, they are also much more difficult to win. When you factor in the juice built into the lines, it can often be difficult to find value in futures, particularly those predicting the winner of the championship. But that doesn’t mean value doesn’t exist. You just have to look for it a little harder.

While MLB futures picks are most commonly associated with predicting the championship-winning team, there are actually a few other varieties as well. Besides the World Series results, you may wager on the winner of each division and the pennant champions for both leagues. Then, there is also a slate of individual awards available for wagering, including the Cy Young and MVP honors.

Another MLB futures betting option is to bet on the win totals for each club. Before the season, the sportsbooks will set over-under lines for the number of wins for every team. You can bet on any of the MLB franchises to either exceed this win total by going “over” or to fall short of the totals line by going “under.”

These are a great option if you don’t want to deal with the randomness of playoff baseball and would rather focus on a single team that you’re more knowledgeable about. These win totals wagers are resolved at the conclusion of the regular season rather than the playoffs, which is also excellent from a bankroll perspective. Here is a list of things you need to keep in mind if you want to bet on MLB futures:

  • Research the past season
  • Look at contract/roster situations
  • Bet on divisions and leagues you know the best
  • Study the schedule
  • Keep injury history in mind
  • Know the stats that correlate to winning
  • Bet with value in mind
  • Shop for the best odds

Underdog Betting

Sports gambling is all about finding value and mispriced betting lines and exploiting them to generate a profit. People mistakenly believe that picking a high percentage of winners is the path to baseball betting success, but there’s much more to it. Depending on the odds, hitting a high rate of bets may not even be profitable. In fact, there are times when you can increase your bankroll without winning 50% of your wagers.

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That’s why people bet underdogs. If you bet on clubs who average out to +130 underdogs, you only have to hit 44% of your bets to break even. That means picking with even 50% accuracy will earn a significant reward.

To make matters even better, underdogs fare better in Major League Baseball than in any other major professional sports league. The gap between the top teams in the league and the worst are narrower than anywhere else. Between the numerous variables to take into account per game and the long, grueling season, there are tons of opportunities to spot upsets, which means tons of opportunities to make money.

Teams that are coming off a big victory against a more favored opponent get a little boost in confidence and performance. Once they’ve shown themselves that they can beat the better team, the momentum from the win seems to carry over to the next contest. It’s such a consistent phenomenon that many baseball-focused handicappers exclusively look to wager on teams coming off a win.

This is a betting strategy that exploits this observation. The key is to identify two factors: first, find an underdog team that won their previous game against the same opponent. Second, only bet on clubs that won that game while scoring three runs or less. The rare offensive outburst game can be an outlier and not very reliable to base future wagers on, but a team that can keep the score low and still win is more promising.

Winning low-scoring games is a sign of having a healthy defense and reliable bullpen. These are the types of qualities that lead to upset victories, which is precisely what we’re looking for. If you’d picked out games that met the criteria as mentioned above and bet them since 2004, your record would come out to 556 wins and 667 losses. That’s a winning percentage of 44%.

If all of your bets during that time were +130 dogs, you’d break even. But the actual games over this time period averaged to nearly +140. That means if you’d made all of these picks while staking the same amount per bet, you would actually earn an almost 8% return on your investment. Long-term, winning at that rate could be extremely lucrative.

The previous strategy is particularly useful when dealing with division rivals. Like before, you’re looking for teams that won their last game, preferably without many runs being scored. But if the teams are in the same division, the underdog’s chances of winning improve.

Teams play twenty-four divisional series per season. With each series being four to five games long, and only five teams per division, that adds up to a significant amount of games versus the same opponents. The more familiarity teams have, the better the batters perform as they learn the pitcher’s patterns and tells.

Furthermore, since the majority of the betting public strictly makes their picks based on starting pitching, this is an excellent opportunity to fade the public. You may even be able to find more favorable odds by waiting for their money to move the line.

Over the course of the last fourteen years, there have been 4,749 games that met this description, with the underdog winning almost 45% of the time. So, once again, as long as your picks average moneyline odds of +130 or higher, and you’re consistent with your staking, you’ll grow your bankroll.

Early in the season, teams are still finding their rhythm and adjusting to live pitching. Similarly, the bookmakers are trying to gauge teams’ potential and price their odds accurately. During this time of the year, they’re liable to overvalue the previous season’s results and rely on their pre-season projections.

Thus, the first two months of the season are prime time for underdog betting. This time, you’re looking for teams with a losing record that are playing on the road and coming off a loss in their previous contest. Furthermore, the favored home team should possess an overall winning record. Lastly, the moneyline odds should be set at +150 or less.

Over the last decade, underdog teams in this exact situation in April or May won approximately 48% of the time. The average odds for these contests came out to +123.2. The outcome is a return of investment that’s just over 7%, which once again means significant earnings, assuming you stick to a staking plan.

There are various approaches to betting on dogs. This is another useful system when you’re searching for a game to bet. The first thing you’re going to look at are the odds being offered. Right off the bat, throw out any games being offered at lines higher than +150. These games may pay out well, but the favored team wins too often to risk it in this simple system.

Take the results you have left and identify the pitcher that will be getting the next start for each opponent. Drop any contest against a top-twenty pitcher. The top aces in baseball are a nightmare to gamble on. The odds are worth betting on them to win, and the probability doesn’t support picking against them. So, find a good baseball statistics site and make sure to avoid these matchups.

Once you have filtered out the heavy underdogs and the best pitchers in the game, you’ll want to analyze the remaining options’ recent form. It doesn’t necessarily matter what their records are; you’re looking for streaks. Filter out any underdog team that has lost three or more games in a row. Furthermore, avoid gambling against favorites that have won three or more consecutive games.

The remaining games are promising underdog selections. You’ll want to then apply your staking plan, either betting a flat amount on each game or a predetermined percentage of your overall bankroll. You need to stay consistent with staking to win money long term; otherwise, you may bet too small on your wins and too big on your losses, which will throw off the math that these systems rely on to be profitable.

Series Betting

Now that we’ve covered a few approaches to underdog betting, let’s look at the similarly popular series betting system. The Major League Baseball season is divided into fifty-two individual series. Due to the number of games in a season and travel concerns, teams play each other three or four times in a row over the course of several consecutive days, all at the same ballpark.

This method is similar to the Martingale system, in that you double the amount you stake following losses. For this system to work, you have to find situations in which you’re confident the team you’re betting on will not be swept. If they are, you stand to lose quite a bit; luckily, sweeps aren’t too prevalent.

After choosing your team, ideally a slight underdog, bet one unit (for example $10) on the opening game of the series. If your bet wins, repeat the wager for match two. But if game one is lost, double your stake to two units ($20) for the second contest. Like before, a win brings you back down to one unit, while a loss doubles the stake again to four units ($40).

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As long as your team isn’t swept, you’ll come out ahead. If you lost the first two games in the example above, you’d be down $30. But if the third game was successful, and you picked a team paying out even-odds or better, you’d win $40, earning a $10 overall profit.

site like is a valuable resource to use with this system, as it tracks the number of sweeps each year and organizes them by the length of series. You will find that the longer series are more desirable for betting this system, while two-game series end in a sweep somewhat often.

Run Line Betting System

Run lines are a form of point spread betting in which you may apply a 1.5-run handicap to either team. The underdog side receives the points and is displayed as “+1.5.” The favored team loses runs from their final score, which is expressed as “-1.5.”

Because the applied handicap cannot be higher than 1.5, using the spread does not result in even-money wagers as it does in other sports.

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For Example

Teams may be favored by more than two runs, so even with the spread, there will still be an underdog and a favorite. The odds play a vital role in determining your staking.

For this strategy, you’re going to take your typical staking amount and split it into two separate wagers. You’ll make one moneyline bet and one run line bet on the same game. The odds being offered will determine how much to risk on the moneyline wager, and the rest will go towards the run line.

Your bets will be organized in such a way that if your team triumphs by two or more runs, both tickets will win and produce a decent profit. If your club only wins by one, the game results in an overall push. This method essentially allows you to create a run line of only -1.0, without that pesky hook.

Here is the formula for determining how much to stake on each half of the wager:

100/MONEYLINE = X X + 1.0 = Y 100/Y = money line wager

So, let’s say the Astros are playing the Rangers. The Astros are favored, so their moneyline odds are -140. If you apply the -1.5 run line, their odds become +150.

  • 100 / 140 = 0.714
  • 0.714 + 1.0 = 1.714
  • 100 / 1.714 = 58.34

In this case, you’d place $58.34 on your moneyline bet and the remaining $41.66 on the run line. A winning moneyline wager would earn a $41.67 profit, while the run line would produce $62.49 in winnings. So, if both bets win, you double your money. If one bet loses, you break even.

Learn more about baseball run line betting with our dedicated guide on the subject!

Dominant Home Teams System

The Dominant Home Team system is similar to the series betting strategy, just with an added wrinkle. In fact, with some slight adjustments, the two systems can work together very effectively. Like the previous method, we are wagering against the possibility of a series sweep.

Before searching out games that match what we’re looking for, you’ll need to get the home and away winning percentages for each team. Identify teams whose records show that they perform better in their home stadium, preferably by at least 5%-10%.

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You want teams that are unaccustomed to being swept in front of their home crowd.

Once you’ve located some franchises with a statistically significant home field advantage, you’ll want to search out series in which they’ve gotten behind by two or more games. It happens numerous times each season that an underdog road team catches the home side off guard, stealing some early contests in the series.

What we’re wagering on is the fact that tough home teams will not give up a series sweep. You may also want to start placing bets on these situations after only one game. If so, utilize the Series System as well, doubling your bet after a loss. The odds of a dominant home team being swept are very low, so this is a reliable method of incrementally growing your bankroll.

Creating an MLB Line

For sports gamblers, life revolves around “the line.” That’s the price or the odds set by the sportsbooks for any given wager. It’s the single most crucial factor when making picks, as it determines how much value exists. If you aren’t betting based on value, then you aren’t going to be a winning handicapper; it’s as simple as that.

Before a contest, you want to use all of the relevant data collected about both clubs and set your own line. So, you’ll be acting as the bookmaker. This requires you to break down how the game will most likely play out the majority of the time and assign a percentage of probability for both sides of the bet. Next, you’ll convert those percentages into moneyline odds.

Once you’ve created your own betting line, you’re ready to decide whether or not a pick is worth a wager. You compare the odds that you set against whatever the sportsbook has as the current price. If you believe a team has a higher probability of winning than the bookmaker’s line suggests, that bet has value. Once you have some valuable data, you’ll want to prioritize the statistics, weighing them all differently until you’ve perfected your model. Here are the most important statistics to consider when creating your MLB line:

  • Regression analysis
  • Starting pitching
  • The bullpens
  • Home/away records
  • Stylistic matchups
  • Park factors
  • Weather
  • Umpire assignments
  • Travel and fatigue
  • Recent outings
  • Head-to-head records
  • Stakes

Create an MLB Betting Model

Once you’ve identified the many data points you want to use in your handicapping, it’s time to analyze them all and forecast probable outcomes. Professional handicappers will use powerful analytical models to crunch all of the numbers and simulate the contest, but it can take some serious time to get to that point. Through the season, you should track which factors seem to matter most to the final score or totals line, and which aren’t as important.

Then you want to give each factor its own weight or priority. So, some variables influence the result more than others, even though all still matter on some level. Bringing in new stats while tweaking the significance of the values you’re already watching is a continuous effort. When you make a change that brings your prediction closer to the actual happenings, you keep that setting and alter other numbers. If your predictions start to slip, you reverse the recent changes.

One other factor to consider when creating an MLB betting model is the notion of a statistical sample size. If you’re confident about the baseball betting model that you’ve created, don’t be quick to change it if just a few games seem to contradict what you’ve formulated. Make sure that the sample size is significant enough that the results actually warrant you changing things up a little bit.

Tips to Consider When Making Your Picks

Between the nine different spots in the lineup, starting pitching, relief pitching, and everything that goes into defense, there are a lot of variables at play when trying to handicap baseball. If you’re able to build complex spreadsheets and crunch large datasets, you can break this sport down and create some compelling statistical models.

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The following tips will play a role in the outcome of the games; they’re just more surface-level than what the top pros use.

Regardless, Rome wasn’t built in a day. These are just meant to get your mind thinking about these games in a certain way.


Due to baseball’s grueling 162-game extended schedule, players spend a significant portion of their time traveling and living on the road. Scientists have found that teams following specific travel patterns frequently experience a reduction in performance. This is due to their circadian rhythms being disrupted.

This study suggests that teams traveling from west to east while crossing multiple time zones will give up more home runs while hitting fewer. The prime opportunity to exploit this information is when an east-coast team is returning home after spending a week or more on the road. For each time zone crossed, an extra 24 hours is needed before returning to normal.


One weird thing about baseball is that it’s one of the only sports that doesn’t have standard dimensions for their playing surface. The diamond, pitcher’s mound, and foul poles are always the same, but beyond that, teams can do as they please. Some parks favor batters; some favor pitchers. Some are better for right-handed hitters; the others are better for lefties.

These differences can play a significant role in the outcome of the game.

That’s why handicappers everywhere now track “park factors.” If you study sites with all of the dimensions and batting statistics, you will be able to more accurately consider the park’s role in an upcoming contest before placing your bets.


Just like the ballparks, a referee will play a massive role in the outcome of a baseball game. The man calling balls and strikes has a direct impact on what kind of contest it will be. Umps with large strike zones tend to have lower-scoring games with less offense, on average. The exact opposite is true as well.

It’s good to research all of the members of an officiating team at the beginning of a series. Each game, the officials will rotate clockwise, so you’ll always know the tendencies of the umpire calling the next game. Data-driven websites now record umpire statistics just like players so that you may use this information for your picks.


When you see the line a bookmaker is offering on a baseball game, that value is typically heavily based on the starting pitcher. Furthermore, pitching is the number-one factor the casual betting public forms their decision around, meaning the odds are skewed a bit towards starting pitching.

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The best way to fade the public and find value is by studying and understanding teams’ bullpens.

These days, with strict pitch counts, middle and long relievers are more vital than ever. Teams with strong bullpens have a significant advantage. You may be better served gambling based on relief pitching than starting pitching in some scenarios.

Home and Away Records

This is an extremely basic variable, but it comes into account more than you’d think. It’s worth checking how much drastically better a team performs at home versus away, or vice versa. If the difference is significant, you then have a starting point to start diving into to figure out why. It could have something to do with the type of park, weather, and altitude; there’s no telling. But once you notice the first trend, you can extrapolate more information from there.

Find Your Niche

When you first start gambling, it’s normal to want to try all the different kinds of wagers and the various options. That’s fine in the short term, but over time, it is a sure way to lose money. The smart plan is to gradually find out what you’re good at forecasting and develop a specific niche to specialize in.

Maybe you’ll learn that you excel at totals bets on windy days at Wrigley Field. Or perhaps you’re good at predicting which team will score first when there’s a left-handed pitcher facing the Astros. It could be anything. All that matters is that you find a specialty, because those are much easier at exploiting for profitable returns.

Look for Value

When you’re betting on sports, you aren’t just trying to decide which team will win and plopping money down on them. Instead, the object of the game is to accurately forecast the probability of certain events happening.

Then, you compare your real-world probabilities with the implied probability that you calculate from the odds. If the likelihood of an outcome happening is higher than the odds suggest, that bet has value.

Tips for Organizing Your Baseball Bets

Now that we’ve covered some of the most common baseball-specific bets you’ll find and a few of the criteria you should consider when gambling, it’s time to put it all together into actual wagers. If you’re unfamiliar with parlay betting, it’s best that you check out our dedicated guide on the best parlay bets to learn about them before diving into this section. These are some basic strategies to use when organizing your parlays to win these combo bets without letting a single lousy pick here or there ruin all of your cards. How you organize your picks can be just as important as predicting a high percentage of winners.

Correlate Your Parlays

Correlating your parlays just means pairing up your picks in a way that makes logical sense. For example, let’s say Team A is playing Team B. Team A’s strength is their potent lineup and high-scoring offense. Team B, on the other hand, is led by an ace starting pitcher that routinely shuts teams down. On your parlay card, you want to pick a winner and the over-under or run total.

In this game, clearly, something is going to have to give. One of these two team strengths is going to prevail. So, if you’re betting on Team A, it only makes sense to pair that choice with the “over,” since they win with their offense. If you think the pitching will prevail, your Team B bet should be parlayed with the “under.”

Round Robin Parlays

Round robin parlays are useful when you have four or five picks that you feel good about, but don’t want to put them all on one card, since only a single upset or wrong prediction can trash your entire ticket. Instead, round robin your picks to limit exposure to bad bets while still profiting from the rest.

So, let’s say you have four bets you like. To round robin your parlays, you’re going to make several three-pick parlays, each with a different combination of the four wagers. That way, if you lose one, only a card or two is lost, while the other parlay cards still return winnings.

Heavy Favorite and Two Underdogs

Attaching a considerable favorite to a parlay card is a way to sweeten the odds slightly. You want your favorite to be as close to a sure thing as possible. Then, you find two underdog picks, preferably in the +160 or more range. You place two separate parlay bets. The favorite appears on both cards, but the underdog pick is different on each.

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As long as you win one of the two bets, you should still return a profit on your overall investment.

You just have to ensure that the underdog odds are such that the parlays will pay out better than even-odds. If so, it’s an easy way to make money in small increments.

Two Favorites

Betting on straight favorites is a hard way to win money. The way the odds are set, you have to risk too much just for the potential for a decent return. Winning back ten cents on the dollar isn’t worth that occasional colossal upset that wipes out all the money you have to stake.

So rather than betting favorites alone, consider pairing them together in two- or three-team parlays. This just helps to move the line a bit more in your favor. Risking $800 to win $100 would be a nightmare on a -800 bet, but if you can make a parlay and get that number to -350, that risk might be a bit more palatable.

The Wrap-Up

Gambling on baseball is made quite a bit easier by following basic betting systems. As long as you do the required research that each method requires upfront, any of these strategies should turn a profit over time. Sure, when it comes to gambling, there are no guarantees, and even the most well-planned strategy will be trumped by a string of bad luck. But if you keep playing the odds, the math will eventually work itself out.

If you consistently make bets at +130 odds that historically have had a 44% or higher likelihood of winning, you are bound to either break even or turn a profit eventually. The tricky part is staying patient and sticking to an organized staking plan.

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If you don’t risk the same amount per bet, you’re likely to win the right ratio of games but still not increase your bankroll.

What all of these systems have in common is that they find positive value. By finding games with odds in the right range and identifying these particular scenarios that are more likely to occur than the implied probability suggests, these methods keep you focused on betting the right way.

Rather than just randomly picking contests and betting on whoever you think will win based on the starting pitchers, it’s all based on math and winning margins. And if you’re approaching your gambling in that way, you’re already well ahead of the casual betting public, which is a very good thing.

Jim Beviglia
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About Jim Beviglia
Jim Beviglia has been a gambling writer at since 2018. During that time, he’s written just about every type of article related to gambling, including reviews of betting sites, guides to popular casino games, betting tips on both casino and sports betting, sports and casino blog posts, and game picks. In addition to online gambling, one of Jim’s other major interests is music. He has been doing freelance work for various music sites and magazines for two decades. Among his outlets past and present are American Songwriter, VinylMePlease, Treble, and The Bluegrass Situation. Jim has also written five books on music that were published by Rowman & Littlefield.