How to Bet the MLB Over-Under

How to Bet the MLB Over-Under

Learn how to read and make Over/Under bets on MLB games, including the best strategies and tips. Start making smarter MLB Over/Under picks today!

The over-under is a consistent wager in all major sports. Quite simply, you’re betting that the combined total of points (or runs, in the case of baseball) from both teams either goes above (over) or below (under) the number set by oddsmakers. Oftentimes, this is a fun bet for casual bettors to make, and it’s an easy one to root for regardless of the teams involved. An over-under bettor doesn’t have to study the intricacies of each team—rather, there are more concrete factors that go into the set over-under number.

How to Read MLB Over-Under Odds

There are generally three bets you can make on a baseball game: moneyline (where you bet on which team is going to win), run line (betting on a certain team with a point spread), and over-under. The over-under bets are the closest ones you can make in baseball that will be a near 50-50 proposition. Oddsmakers try to find the number that would generate an even amount of betting on each side, similar to how a point spread in football or basketball is determined.

MLB over-under odds example
MLB over-under odds example | Sidelines

In this example, the over-under for this game between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Guardians is set at 9.5. This means a bet on the under will pay off if the teams’ combined total is less than 9.5. Conversely, a combined run total higher than 9.5 will pay to bets on the over. Sometimes, the over-under will be a whole number. For instance, if it is 8, and the final score of the game is 5-3, then the bet is a push and all bettors get their original wagers back. More often than not, you will find MLB over-under odds with the half-point included to cut back on pushes—especially in the case of larger over-under marks.

In our example above, the -112 next to the under means that this bet is the slight favorite. You would have to bet $112 to win $100. For the over, -102 signifies that a $102 bet would be necessary to win $100. In sports gambling, even bets are listed at -110 instead of true 50-50 odds. The extra money needed on an even bet is called the “vig,” or the cut that the house takes in order to take and process your bet.

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Which Factors Affect MLB Over-Under Betting?

  1. Pitchers: This is perhaps the biggest determining factor of a set over-under number. A game between two excellent starting pitchers could have an over-under number as low as 6. Teams that either have pitchers more susceptible to allow runs or have to rely on shaky bullpens will see the over-under number rise accordingly.
  2. Scoring Trends: If a team is in a prolonged slump at the plate and is having trouble scoring runs, oddsmakers will use that to adjust the over-under number downward. If two teams are loaded with heavy hitters and they are putting up lots of runs over their last several games, that will affect it in the opposite direction.
  3. Weather Conditions: This is an issue at some stadiums more than others. For instance, Wrigley Field in Chicago can have over-under numbers at 6 or 7 or 11 or 12 based on which way the wind is blowing. The wind blowing out at Cubs home games will lead to many more home runs than usual. Rain can also affect the scoring in baseball games.
  4. Injuries: Teams missing star players or pitchers will bring an adjustment to the over-under number. This is something you can pay attention to and try to work to your advantage.
  5. Ballparks: Some ballparks are hitters parks, while others are pitchers parks. A game between the Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants will have an over-under number much higher for the game in Denver due to the thin air there and the way that balls travel at Coors Field compared to AT&T Park in San Francisco, which is generally a pitcher-friendly park due to its large dimensions.
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Which Over-Under Strategies Fit the MLB?

You can use the factors listed above to develop your strategy. You don’t have to research each one to be successful. Let’s take a look at three that are popular among MLB over-under bettors.

  • Ballpark/Weather Strategy: You can narrow your focus to following the weather reports and studying which ballparks are more conducive to run-scoring and which are generally pitchers parks. You may find that there are more runs scored at a certain park in the spring rather than the summer based on weather conditions. This level of insight is something that oddsmakers may not take into consideration, so use it to your advantage.
  • Umpire Strategy: We haven’t mentioned this yet, but home plate umpires can shape the game more than any other official in sports because of the arbitrary nature of calling balls and strikes. You can research if teams score lots of runs or fewer runs than normal when a specific umpire is behind the plate, and plot your betting strategy accordingly.
  • Pitching Staff: This factor can shape the over-under number more than anything. When looking at starting pitchers, focus on their history against that particular team along with how they performed over their past three or four starts. A reduction in strikeouts or a rise in walks and hits can turn into a pattern you can apply to their next start. Also pay attention to the health and availability of the bullpen. If a starter typically only throws five innings, the bullpen may be used more by a certain team, and if that team had a relief pitcher throw for a day or two in a row, he may not be available for the next game.
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How to Prepare for MLB Over-Under Betting?

Let’s take a little bit of a deeper insight into some of the factors above as you prepare for your MLB over-under betting. In other words, how to find the data above and then use it to your advantage.

Luckily, baseball is a statistically driven sport, meaning you can find data on just anything you could possibly imagine.


When it comes to starting pitchers, their overall record is important, but you’ll also want to zero in on their past three or four starts, and especially how they fared if they faced this same team earlier in the season. Some teams just have a pitchers’ number, so while a pitcher may have great stats overall, he could struggle against this particular team. This is important information to know, as this level of detail may be overlooked by oddsmakers when the over-under number is set.


Another place where you can gain an advantage over the oddsmakers is by paying attention to injuries and the starting lineups for a particular game. Say, for instance, that the over-under on a Los Angeles Angels game is at 8.5. But when the starting lineup for the game is posted around three hours prior to the game, you notice that superstar Mike Trout is out of the lineup. Without his bat, the Angels are less likely to score as much as they would with him, so you are given an advantage toward the under here, unless the over-under number moves accordingly. But a keen observer can often make bets faster than oddsmakers can adjust lines.


For weather factors, in addition to wind and rain conditions that could affect play on the field, you’ll also want to see if there’s a chance that rain could delay the game or call it off early. Say the Texas Rangers are starting two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob DeGrom. Rain, however, is in the forecast for around 8:30 p.m. for a game that’s starting at 7 p.m. This means that, one way or another, DeGrom’s night will likely be cut short.

He will either pitch three or four innings before the rain comes, and the Mets would have to use a different pitcher after the delay, or DeGrom could cruise through five or six innings, and the game could be called off at that point if the rain doesn’t stop in a reasonable amount of time. If there’s a chance that rain could cut a game short before the full nine innings, there is an advantage to bet the under because an MLB game is considered official after five innings, so the over-under bet would count whether a game goes five innings and is official or if it goes the full nine innings.

As we described above, ballparks are also a factor. You can check individual team statistics to see how they perform in their home ballpark as compared to on the road. They may average a run or two more at home, which is significant when trying to decide on which way you want to go for the over-under. In addition, some parks are just more conducive to runs being scored, including Colorado, Houston, Philadelphia, and Boston. Pitcher-friendly parks include San Francisco, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland, and Detroit.

Try Betting on the MLB Over-Under

As you can see, a lot goes into both setting an over-under line and making a bet in either one direction or the other! Try one or more of the strategies above, look at the MLB betting odds, and either root for lots of home runs or strikeouts, depending on which way you went on your MLB over-under bet!

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