With 162 games over the course of baseball’s regular season, the sample size for hitting, pitching, and team statistics is quite large. This makes the statistics much more useful to bettors than sports with much smaller sample sizes. Just about every baseball bettor knows how to use stats like batting average and ERA to handicap, but there are other baseball betting tips to cover as well. Here is a list of free baseball strategy bets and tips that will help take your baseball handicapping to the next level.
Handicapping Batter Histories
One mistake that many bettors make is simply looking at the overall statistics of pitchers and hitters instead of the specific statistics that are relevant to this particular matchup. For example, they assume that because a pitcher’s season ERA is below 3.50 or a batter’s batting average is over .300, those players will perform well today. But that’s only part of the story.
Nowadays, you can research specific matchup history, so you can see not only how pitchers and batters have fared over their career against the team they are playing against today, but also the specific batters or pitchers they will be facing. The star pitcher you are considering betting on may have a sparkling 3.05 ERA this season, but a look at his past history against today’s opponent may reveal a 7.84 ERA and four batters in today’s lineup batting over .400 against him. Analyzing how pitchers and batters have performed in the past can help you find great value on teams to bet on or fade, especially when these statistics go against the player’s season averages.
Another important free baseball betting strategy to implement is the handicapping of bullpens. Most bettors focus on the two starting pitchers and the starting lineups when handicapping a game, and neglect one of the most important aspects of the game; the bullpen. Most starting pitchers only throw 100-110 pitches per game, which often puts the ball in the bullpen’s hands for the final 6-12 outs. Some teams have three closer-quality pitchers, and shutting the door in the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning is no problem. Other teams don’t even have one closer-quality pitcher that they can rely on. Bullpen implosions happen every day; be sure you factor in bullpens to your everyday handicapping.
An alternative to this is betting first five inning lines. If you get too tired of being the victim of blown saves, or you love the starting pitching matchup but don’t trust the bullpen, consider betting just the first five innings instead. You may have to lay down a bit more chalk, but in many cases, it is worth it.
Pick Your Spots
This baseball betting tip applies to all sports betting, but it is particularly true when you consider baseball’s massive slate of games; pick your spots! Just about every day of the week you are going to have 15 games to choose from, and with the series format you are going to get each of those 15 games with a different set of starting pitchers three or four different times a week.
With 30 teams playing 162 games each, it translates to 2,430 games in just the regular season alone. This gives you the opportunity to be very picky. When deciding which of your leans to upgrade to plays, remind yourself of this. If you aren’t sure about a game, or have a bad feeling about your side, just pass. There’s always tomorrow (and the next day, and the day after that).
Factoring in Good and Bad Luck
Because there are so many games, statistics tend to level out as the season progresses. Much like flipping a coin and getting 80% heads isn’t all that uncommon after five flips, after 100 flips you are much more likely to be near 50%. Similarly, some teams (and pitchers) start the season off playing way better or worse than the statistics say they should be; and these teams often even out as the season goes on.
A team’s “Pythagorean Record” factors in the total amount of runs they have scored and given up, and projects what their record should be. While this (and other indicators like it) should be taken with a grain of salt, teams and players playing way above their potential should be considered as solid fade material down the stretch, and teams and players playing below their potential may have good value.