How to Bet on Underdogs in the MLB

How to Bet on Underdogs in the MLB

Learn the best strategies for making your MLB picks on the underdog! Check out these tips, systems, and more to stay ahead of the MLB odds.

For the skilled bettor, some well-placed wagers on underdogs in Major League Baseball can net you some serious profits. Unlike other sports like football and basketball that rely on a point spread to keep betting even on both sides, betting on MLB underdogs gives you the opportunity for big scores.

The key is knowing when to take your shot to give yourself the best chance to win despite longer odds. In this brief, we will go over the reasons to bet on underdogs and give you proven strategies so you can develop an MLB underdogs betting system of your own.

Why Bet on Underdogs in Baseball?

In sports that mainly use the point spread for wagers, they are designed to keep bets as close to an even payout as possible. The even amount of bets on each team allows the house (the place taking your bet) a better chance to profit thanks to the vigorish (or vig). The vig is the cut the house gets on your bet, which is why an even bet will have -110 odds instead of -100. This means you have to bet $110 to win $100, and if each side of a bet is -110, you can see how the house will profit if the bets are evenly distributed.

MLB betting margins for favorites and underdogs
MLB betting margins for favorites and underdogs – Sidelines

Baseball is bet on the money line, so instead of getting a point spread, in order to try and even out the bets, you have higher odds on favorites and longer odds on underdogs. Using the example in the graphic, the Boston Red Sox are very slight favorites at -111, meaning you bet $111 to win $100. The Toronto Blue Jays are slight underdogs, and we found their best price to be +106, which means you bet $100 to win $106.

This is an example of a slight favorite vs. a slight underdog. Depending on the quality of teams and pitching matchups, teams can be favorites of over -300, and underdogs generally in the cap out in the +280 range, but there are always exceptions to this rule every now and then.

What is the MLB Underdog Betting System?

MLB underdog betting systems are based on the fact that, statistically, underdogs win four out of every nine MLB games (around 44%). Depending on the teams you choose and the odds they face, you can break even o r get a slight win by winning four of nine bets, but your goal is to win five or more bets for a larger profit. The key is determining which nine underdogs to bet on, which we will get into shortly.

For now, let’s delve deeper into how the system works so you can see how it may favor you.

If you’re betting on nine favorites, based on money line odds that average -150, you would have to lay down $1350, and you may have to win six, seven or even more of those bets depending on the outcomes in order to turn a profit. Say you lost a game where you bet $300 on a -300 favorite to win $100. You would have to win three other bets in order to make up for the $300 you just lost.

By betting on nine underdogs, you can win far more than you risk, so you can make nine bets for $900. If the underdogs average +130 on the money line, your winnings are an average of $130 per game. Of course, this number will fluctuate because you may bet a couple teams at +115 and others at +175 or higher. But taking the average into account, winning four of those nine games gives you a profit of $520. Add that to the $400 from your initial wagers that you would get back, and it’s a $20 profit to win four of those nine games. Winning five games gets you a profit of $250, and it goes up from there.

In order to figure out how much you should bet on each game, a good rule of thumb is to bet 1.25% of your bankroll on each game. To find this number, multiply your bankroll by .0125. So if your bankroll is $1,600, you would bet $20 on each game.

What to Look for When Betting on the Underdogs in the MLB

Because there are 30 MLB teams, there can be as many as 15 games each night. If you’re betting on nine, you need to determine which nine underdogs have the best chance of winning. While looking at the odds themselves will give you an idea of who the oddsmakers think have the best chance to pull off the upset, there are several factors you can take into account.

  • Streaky Teams – Throw out underdogs who have lost three-straight games and favorites who have won three in a row. On some days, this will leave you with less than nine games to choose from, and that’s okay. The 44% ratio applies no matter how many games are being played.
  • Home/Away Records – The home team has inherent advantages in baseball, so if a home team is an underdog, they are either outmatched on offense or facing a much better starting pitcher. Look at home and away records in the standings too to see if a team is an outlier with a better or worse home or away record than expected.
  • Eliminate Underdogs over +150 – As a rule, a team that’s more than a +150 underdog has a decidedly less chance to win the game. Below +150 means it’s more reasonable that the team can pull off the upset. Unless you feel strongly based on a statistical reason you discovered, shy away from teams that are more than a +150 underdog while using this system.
  • Starting Pitcher Trends – Dive deeper than standard win-loss records and earned run average (ERA) statistics for pitchers. Check out their strikeout-to-walk (K/BB) ratio, as that will tell you if the pitcher is prone to putting extra runners on base, and also check their Expected ERA (xERA). This is an advanced metric that takes into account the amount of contact and the quality of that contact. These stats try to take luck out of the equation, if the pitcher usually pitches in a pitcher-friendly ballpark or was a beneficiary to some spectacular defensive plays that normally would’ve been a double seven or eight times out of 10. There are also advanced hitting metrics as well, and you can see them all here. For xERA, you should not bet against any team facing a player that ranks in the top 20 in xERA.
  • Number of One-Run Wins – Standard MLB standings pages will tell you teams’ records in one-run games. Teams that are the underdog may benefit a bit more from luck than others and have a better-than-expected record in one-run games. This isn’t a dealbreaker, but it is something to take into account when trying to select your underdog to bet on.
  • Lefty/Righty Matchups – Some strong offensive lineups will be stacked with a disproportionate amount of left- or right-handed hitters, meaning that a lefty-heavy lineup may struggle against left-handed pitchers. Team split statistics will show you how each team performs against lefties and righties on the mound.

As with most betting systems, this system is based off facts and statistics. You may have your favorite teams or have reasons or “a feeling” to bet for or against a certain team, which is fine because wagering should be fun, but just remember that this system is meant to rule out the emotional component of betting.

? Try Betting on the MLB Underdogs

If you enjoy analytics and statistics, the MLB underdog betting strategy may be for you. Start by taking a look at the various MLB betting odds you can get today and go through our checklist, eliminating underdogs as you go. Find out how much you should wager on each game via the formula above, place your bets, and enjoy an evening of rooting for the underdogs on baseball diamonds all over the United States!

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