I love betting on baseball.
I love MLB baseball betting because of the length of the season and the variety of ways to wager. A regular season of baseball runs to 2,430 games played over five months.
The return of a full season of baseball in 2021 means a return to normalcy for baseball fans and bettors. The 60-game COVID-19-shortened 2020 season meant a lot to Dodgers fans, and it was cool to see Aaron Judge hit five go-ahead homers in the Yankees’ first eight games. But I think all sports fans are ready for a return to the patterns we’re used to.
And I know for a fact that MLB bettors are ready for the 2021 and 2022 baseball seasons.
In this post, I’m sharing seven of my best baseball value betting tips for 2021 and 2022. Trying to look ahead is always difficult, but I think the 202 and 2021 seasons have set a clear pattern for what we can expect in 2022.
1. Shy Away from the Big Favorites
This is advice I find myself giving to baseball fans all the time, regardless of the year. If this post only accomplishes one thing, I hope it’s to convince baseball bettors to reconsider their tired old “bet the favorites” strategy.
I think the fact that baseball is finally getting back to normal will drive enough new bettors into the industry to have an impact at least through 2021 and 2022. The betting public will get a little dumber and a little more predictable. That means more bets on favorites. This will influence the ways books set odds.
So why should you stay away from wagers on big MLB favorites? Let’s start with the obvious – a payout on a favored team is small. You won’t win enough chasing so-called “obvious” wins to justify the regularity with which you’ll lose using this strategy.
Here’s something you haven’t maybe considered – your book knows that you, regular Joe bettor from Missouri, love to bet on the favorite. Books are well-versed in leveraging the bias of the betting public, and any line on any favorite in baseball is shaded to the extreme. The book knows that lots of dudes will bet on the Yankees, whatever the cost.
You can look at the statistics for yourself and see what I’m talking about. The last time I checked on the numbers, favorites at -150 or higher have a winning record of around 60%. If that sounds impressive, remember the old sports bettors adage, “the juice ain’t worth the squeeze.” Even if you only lose 40% of the time, you’re laying out such big numbers that your small wins don’t carry as long.
2. Think About Betting in Volume
There’s going to be a theme in this post – bets on baseball in 2021 and 2022 are coming from an increasingly uneducated betting public. The impacts of this (and ways for sports bettors to deal with those impacts) are the focus of my thoughts for the next couple of years of baseball betting.
Most good sports betting advice will tell you to limit your wagers to those opportunities that give you value. The idea is to bet as little as possible and only in those situations where you find you have some advantage. This is true 90% of the time for most sports. I don’t think it’s true for MLB bettors in 2021 or even 2022. Baseball lends itself to volume betting – I’ll explain why below.
Baseball has more games. That’s really all there is to it. Compared to the other popular American betting sports (football and basketball) baseball offers a massive number of bets. If you bet on 10% of the NFL regular season, you’re betting on 27 games. That same 10% figure applied to an MLB regular season results in 243 wagers.
You’ll go insane looking for 243 value opportunities. But if you think of your bets on baseball as a matter of volume, and adjust your bet size accordingly, you’ll find that the larger number of outcomes could mean a larger profit during baseball season.
3. Look for Value from the Meteorologist
I’ve had over a year and a half to think about the impact of COVID on professional sports.
I think the MLB in 2021 and 2022 offers a lot of value to game totals bettors for a COVID-specific reason.
Most major league baseball teams play in open stadiums – it’s a part of the game’s tradition and has remained so into the modern game era. Only six MLB teams currently play in a stadium that allows for a closed roof at all. Most MLB games are at the whim, to some extent, of the weather.
COVID restrictions have made teams uneasy about closing stadium roofs for any reason. This will remain true throughout 2021 and well into 2022, if not further. That means even those six MLB teams that have the option of closing the roof will be less likely to do so.
Look for value in games where the wind will be blowing in toward the batter, the faster the better. A light breeze, or anything under at least 5 miles per hour, is unlikely to affect the outcome all that much. According to stat junkies, in games where a wind of at least 5 mph is blowing into the stadium, the under wins 55% of the time.
It isn’t all about wind, though that’s a major statistical anomaly that you should be using. You can create your own weather-based strategy and apply it to the run line or game totals of any MLB game. 2021 and 2022 are good years to do it, since teams are paranoid about air flow and COVID outbreaks.
4. Be Suspicious of Superstars
You don’t want to hear it, but life has been hard for professional athletes these past couple of years.
The average athlete had pressure on him from every side – literally sent into a bubble, his behavior was controlled, his body was mis conditioned, and he had limited opportunities to practice and play with his team. This pressure was amplified for superstars, seen now as symbols for their entire team, stand-ins for professional organizations with board members and such.
When you bet on baseball in 2021 and even in 2022, be more suspicious of the performance of the sport’s big names.
I expect big things from unexpected names, and a generally disappointing performance of every sport’s biggest names. In the MLB, this is amplified by the much larger impact COVID had on the sport relative to basketball or football. A 60-game season meant less time with team staff and teammates. These guys are, to put it simply, a little out of practice.
5. Don’t Bet on Games Involving Shohei Ohtani
This guy is an absolute meteor, bringing new fans to the game, drawing massive crowds, giving away money to people who really need it, and just generally causing buzz in the baseball world.
Don’t you dare go anywhere near him.
If there’s one thing we know about the betting public in 2021, it’s that they’re a little larger, a little dumber, and a little more starstruck. That makes Ohtani and any game or outcome involving him a big draw, and the oddsmakers love stuff like this. People bet on Ohtani (or bet against him, even) because of the buzz and not necessarily because of a well-researched value betting strategy.
6. Pay Close Attention to the Pitch Doctoring Scandal
It’s not yet clear how much impact the pitch doctoring scandal will have, but it’s going to have one.
The sticky baseball scandal, which started during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and gained speed early in 2021, looks to have a big impact on statistics. To sum it up, pitchers around the league have been accused of manipulating baseballs with substances mostly to improve their spin rate. This led to a noticeable series of statistical aberrations that forced the league to look into it. Umpires and league officials are working to figure out what’s going on.
In the short term, it’s clear that the scandal affects the experience of the game. Breaks for analyzing balls are frequent. Watch this blog for more on how the doctoring scandal may affect MLB betting for the next few seasons.
7. Bet Against the General Public
If I could sum up all seven of these tips into one easily digestible soundbite, it’d be this. For the 2021 and 2022 MLB season, fade the general betting public. Ignore trends and look closer at unpopular propositions and outcomes.
As I’ve said in every tip above, the betting public has become temporarily dumber. People have government cash in their pockets, extended time at home on their hands, and a renewed interest in sporting events and pretty much anything else on TV. With ads for daily fantasy and online sportsbooks popping up on cable and YouTube, more people who have no idea what they’re doing are finding their way to sportsbooks.
I don’t just mean that you should bet underdogs – though those wagers pay out more and, when found in a value situation, can take more hits than a strategy focused on betting favorites. I also mean taking steps to avoid recency bias in general. If anything, as the general public bets more, you should consider betting less, and looking even harder for bets in only those specific wagering situations where you find value.
Remember, you are smarter than the mass of idiots bellying up to the sportsbook.