“Take me out to the baaaaaalllgaaaaame…” This famous phrase is instantly recognizable by most Americans because it the song for America’s Game, baseball. And with online sports betting recently becoming legal in Michigan, you can now enjoy Major League Baseball in a whole new way. However, if you are not familiar with MLB betting strategy, you have come to the right place!
If you aren’t sure exactly what these odds mean, we will break it down throughout the site. Here are a few of the key terms:
The most common form of MLB betting is called moneyline betting. Here, you are simply choosing the winner of the game. For moneyline betting, if there is a positive number next to the team, that is the amount of money you would win if you bet $100 on that team. (This team is considered the underdog, the one less likely to win.) If the number is negative, that is how much you have to bet to win $100.
Let’s give a quick example. If the Yankees were playing the Red Sox, renewing their classic rivalry at historic Fenway Park, the moneyline might say
New York Yankees (+150)
Boston Red Sox (-178) — Notice that the home team is always on the bottom.
So if you were to bet $100 on the Yankees, and they won, you would get back $250, a $150 profit. If you bet $200 you would get back $500, a $300 profit, etc. If you picked the Red Sox, you would bet $178. If they won, you would receive back $278, a profit of $100.
Sometimes you may see odds that are (+100) and (-100) or that simply say the word EVEN. In this case, there is no favorite or underdog. This type of game is called a Pick ‘Em because the teams are considered evenly matched, and the odds are the same for both.
Another type of MLB betting is futures betting (also known as outright betting). In futures betting, you are not choosing the outcome of a single game. Instead, you are choosing the outcome of a longer time period, often the entire season. The most common example of this is picking the team that you believe will win the World Series well in advance. The payout structure is the same as moneyline betting.
Many people prefer futures betting for MLB for two reasons. First, it can lead to some pretty impressive payouts (+1000 or more) if you bet on a team that is not expected to be good. Second, baseball is a long season, with 162 regular-season games. Many factors can impact one certain game, and it is very common for a team with a worse record to beat a team with a winning record in just one game. People usually feel more confident betting on which team will be the most successful in the long term instead of just one game.
When looking at odds, one important consideration is that odds for games are constantly changing. If a large percentage of the public bets for one team, the bookmakers will change the odds to help make betting more even. Also, breaking news (e.g. a major injury) can change the odds. The odds to bet on a World Series winner are changing almost daily, as the team’s performance is changing and players are added or lost.
Also, know that different sportsbooks may offer different odds. So it is helpful to look at different ones to determine where you want to place your bet.
Is betting on MLB legal in Michigan?
As of December 20, 2019, MLB betting is legal in Michigan. In order to participate, you simply need to be physically located within the state’s boundaries while accessing the betting sites.
There are several sites where you can participate in online gambling in Michigan, and almost all of them have sportsbooks. For a site to offer sports gambling (or any gambling at all, for that matter,) they simply have to be in a partnership with a land-based casino in the state. Therefore, some of the biggest sportsbooks in the country are available in Michigan, institutions such as the Golden Nugget, FanDuel, DraftKings, MGM, and more. Be aware that some of these sites have specific apps or web addresses for Michigan gambling.
Most common betting markets
There are many other types of MLB betting markets than just the most traditional two listed above. Here are a few more that have become pretty popular:
- Run line: The run line is similar to a football spread. In other words, you are betting for the favorite to win by more than a certain number of runs or for the underdog to keep it close. The run line is almost always -1.5 and +1.5. So if you bet on the underdog (+1.5), you win the bet if that team wins or if they lose by only one run. The favorite (-1.5) needs to win by at least 2 runs for you to win the bet.
- Totals: When you bet the totals, you are simply betting on whether the total number of runs scored — by both teams combined — will be higher or lower than the number proposed. So if the Reds are playing the Marlins, the total might be 7.5. If the total score is 8-0 or 5-4, you would win if you bet on the over. It does not matter which team had the most runs or how close the game was. If the final score is 3-1, the under bettors win.
- First Five Innings: Also known as F5 betting, first five innings betting, as the name suggests, means only betting on the first part of the game. There is a moneyline, total, and runline (usually .5) for the first 5 innings, just as there is for the full game. The drawback is that the winnings are usually not as good for F5 betting.
- Prop Bets: These generally involve certain players and predicting how they will do. So a sportsbook for a Dodgers game may say Mookie Betts 1.5 hits, and you can bet on whether he hit more (over) or fewer (under). Some sportsbooks can get really creative with prop bets, especially for big playoff games, and have bettors predict announcer outfits, national anthem lengths, and much more.
- Series Betting: Again, betting on individual MLB games can be tricky since there are so many variables. So some bettors like to bet on which team will win a series. Most of the time, teams face each other multiple times in a row before moving onto their next opponent, usually 3 times. So if the Blue Jays are playing the Nationals for 3 games, and you bet Toronto, you are betting on them to win at least 2 of the 3 games.
Of course, there are a myriad of other ways to bet as well, and different sportsbooks offer different bets, so be sure to explore to find the ones that sound the most fun to you.
MLB Betting Strategy & Tips
- Do Your Homework: The key to success in MLB betting is to understand the game deeply so you can make accurate predictions. Watch games and read information to help you.
- Be Selective with Your Bets: Some bets feel too close to call while others feel much more like locks. Be on the lookout for those bets that all of the stats and all of the betting predictors support.
- Timing is Everything: Odds change as events get closer. Sometimes it makes sense to make a bet early, while a key factor that will change the odds is still unknown (such as a suspension or an injury update). It also sometimes makes sense to wait until closer to first pitch to know all the key information before betting.
- Where to Bet: Really, any betting site approved in Michigan will be a reputable site. However, some have better bonuses or may have different odds, so that is important to consider.
The ‘21 MLB Season
Fans are excited for a return to more normalcy in the 2021 MLB season. A full 162 games are expected. At least some fans will be back in the stands, with hopefully more and more attending as COVID-19 vaccines are distributed. Last year’s expanded playoffs will return to their typical structure this year: 3 division winners are in, the two other teams with the best record play a Wild Card game to make the playoffs.
The season gets underway on April 1st and will continue all the way to the Fall Classic, the World Series, in October. The All-Star Game will be held on July 13th in Denver, CO.
There are no significant rule changes in the Major Leagues this year. As has been the case recently, there will be some experiments in the Minor Leagues that may eventually make their way to MLB in future seasons. The 7-inning doubleheader and starting extra innings with a runner on 2nd base will stay from last year.
Last season’s champions, the Dodgers, are expected to once again be very strong contenders for the title. The Yankees look to be well-positioned to add to their record number of World Series wins as well. However, the beauty of baseball is that you never know which teams will rise up and make a surprise run to the Fall Classic.
Plus, there are so many exciting players to watch, even if their team’s record is not that strong. Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, Aaron Judge, Freddie Freeman, Cody Bellinger, and Mookie Betts remain some of the most feared batters in baseball. However, so many exciting young players hope to take the crown, guys such as Fernando Tatis, Jr., Ronald Acuna, Jr., and Juan Soto.
Of course, pitching remains the key to winning, and fans of dominant starters are thrilled to watch Jacob deGrom, Gerit Cole, and Walker Buehler go to work. Late in games, Josh Hader, Aroldis Chapman, and Craig Kimbrel tend to extinguish any hopes of a comeback.
And of course, in a class by himself is Shohei Ohtani. Can he truly excel as both a batter and a pitcher? We shall see.
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What you need to know to bet on Detroit Tigers
Now that there is legal betting in Michigan, many of the state’s residents will choose to bet on the hometown team, the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers are one of the longest-established teams in MLB, having started in 1901. They have enjoyed many years of success (4-time World Series winners) and unfortunately, some years of great futility (for example, going 43-119 in 2003, one of the worst records in history). Along the way, many of the game’s all-time best players have worn a Detroit Tigers jersey: Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Mickey Lolich, Jack Morris, and more. However, most would say that the greatest player to ever play for the Tigers is Ty Cobb.
Recent years have not gone so well for the Tigers. They have not made the playoffs since 2014. In fact, they have finished last in the AL Central 3 years in a row.
The Tigers are not expected to break out of their playoff drought this season and could very well find themselves at the bottom of their division again. They definitely have some pretty good starting pitchers in Matthew Boyd, Spencer Boyd, and possibly Julio Teheran, but the bullpen is underwhelming. Their ERA is likely to remain one of the highest in the Majors throughout the season.
While the pitching is likely to struggle, the batting will likely be even worse. There simply are not a lot of dynamic bats in Detroit’s lineup. Miguel Cabrera is still on the team, but he is well beyond his prime. Akil Baddoo is an exciting young player, but he is not enough for the Tigers to strike fear into any opposing pitchers.
The AL Central is a tough division, with both the Twins and White Sox, so 2021 is likely a year without a lot of wins for the Tigers. However, Detroit boasts one of the best farms systems in all of baseball and has a proven manager in AJ Hinch. So there are definitely bright times ahead.
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