MLB handicappers rarely bet on the over/under in baseball games, but I actually find that predicting the over/under can be a bit easier than trying to predict what team will win a game, especially if you don’t follow many MLB teams. We’re going to share some tips with you for betting on baseball totals in order to help you win more of your bets. In MLB you’ll find that sportsbooks don’t like moving the total number unless they have to, but they do move the odds quite a bit during the day.
Key Numbers for Betting on Baseball Totals
There are three key numbers that you need to remember when betting on baseball totals. In MLB about 25% of baseball games end with a final score of 7, 9 or 11 runs. When looking at key numbers 11 isn’t as important as 7 or 9, especially in today’s pitching era where runs have been limited. The reason you need to know these key numbers is because sportsbooks don’t like to move off of these numbers and it’s important that you’re on the right side.
How Are Baseball Totals Odds Adjusted
You absolutely need to understand how sportsbooks adjust their totals odds in order to understand how the market is moving for the game you’re looking to wager on. Sportsbooks don’t necessarily like changing their total number unless they absolutely have to make an adjustment because of one-sided action. If you’re betting with a sportsbook that offers dime lines on baseball totals the odds on a game will typically start at -105 / -105 when the market opens.
When money starts being bet on the total the odds will fluctuate based on the action. If the odds are opened at -105 / -105 on the over 7.5 and under 7.5 the sportsbook won’t need to adjust the odds if they get 50% of the action coming in on both sides. If the bookie starts receiving one-sided action on the over they’ll need to adjust the line to something like -110 / +100 or -115 / +105. MLB sportsbooks will typically move the line up to -125 or -130 on totals before moving the total up/down by a half run.
If a baseball total opens at over 8.5 -115 and under 8.5 +105 the sportsbook will be more keen to bumping the total up quickly if they start getting noticeable action on the over. The reason the sportsbook would move this line quicker is because 9 is a key number in MLB and lots of games end with 9 runs. Instead of getting hammered on the over 8.5 the sportsbook will quickly adjust and move to 9 runs, which leads me to my next point.
When Should I Bet Baseball Totals
The top MLB sportsbooks post over/under odds the night before the game starts. Once a given day’s MLB games are completed the sportsbook will release moneyline and totals odds for the following day. Betting overnight lines is imperative if you want to be able to get the best line in most cases.
Sometimes you’ll find that if you waited you could have gotten a better price, but far too often bettors will wait until closer to game time and they may be betting a total that’s 1 full run more than the bettor who placed his bet using overnight lines. Once you start betting on baseball totals you’ll feel more comfortable with how sportsbooks adjust the lines and that will help you determine whether you should bet the overnight line or wait until the day of the game.
One time you should always bet overnight lines is when you’re right around a key number (7, 9). If you like the over in a game and the overnight line comes out at over 8.5 -120 / under 8.5 +110 you should bet the over at -120. It’s much more likely that this total will be at least 9 by the morning and the half run is extremely important, especially around key numbers. The odd time you’re going to end up with a worse price when betting overnight lines, but as a whole you’ll get the best lines possible.
Key Statistics for Handicapping Baseball Totals
• You need to look at the starting pitching and bullpen when handicapping full game totals in baseball. The bullpen is just as important in a full game because nowadays the starting pitcher rarely throws a complete game.
• Nowadays several handicapping sites track umpire stats during the MLB season. You can find out how many overs and how many unders an umpire has had for the given baseball season and often historically.
• Pitching is the most important stat to look at when handicapping totals, but you also need to take a look at how the hitters have been performing recently. You may need to layoff some totals if the hitters are in a hot/cold streak.
• The weather can absolutely kill your totals bets in baseball. If the wind is blowing in at certain stadiums the ball won’t pop off the bat and that typically means the game will go under regardless of how hard either team is hitting the ball.
• You should look at how many runs a team has scored and allowed on average. I like looking at the entire season and the past 3-5 games to get an idea of the team’s recent form compared to their season averages.
• Make sure you follow injuries and line-up changes as well. If a star hitter is sitting out for a game to rest you need to know this, as it will play a major role in the total of the game.