Baseball Handicapping 101 - MLB Picks

Baseball doesn't get the attention of the faster-paced sports like football and basketball, but it shouldn't be overlooked. In fact, building up a nice bankroll over the 6-month baseball season prior to the start of the more popular football season makes a lot of sense.
 
Baseball can be bet in many ways: moneylines, runlines and totals.
 
In baseball the moneyline is most frequently played. Basically you are simply picking the winner of the game. The "line" you pay is based on the starting pitchers, location of the game (do you have the home or away team) and the strength of the teams involved. Consideration must be made to certain teams known as "public teams," the public seems to play no matter what the line is. These teams include the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox, but there are others.
 
For example, if the Yankees were at home and their best pitcher in the public's mind, C.C. Sabbathia, were starting against Baltimore and Baltimore's worst pitcher was starting, the line would be very high, say around -230 if you were to take the Yankees. If two evenly-matched teams like the Red Sox and Tampa were playing and both teams had their best pitchers starting, the moneyline would probably favor the home team by about -120; a fairly even contest.
 
Betting big favorites (teams favored by -200 or more) is very dangerous to play because if you lose one of those games, you will lose $200 for the $100 you might win on the game. That means you have to win 2 games just to make up for that one loss. That's bad money management, so try to avoid too much of that during the season. A good rule of thumb when betting baseball moneylines is to bet games that are -150 or less.
 
The runline is when you create a "line" of 1 1/2 runs on a game and then choose to either give or take the runs. For example; last week, Atlanta with its best pitcher, was a big moneyline favorite (-215) over Philadelphia. However, if you bet Atlanta with its best pitcher on the runline, you would have had to win the game by 2 runs but only given up -115 instead of -215.
 
In other words, you were risking only $115 to win the $100 rather than $215! Atlanta won the game 10-4 as it turned out, but a bettor had a lot less at risk . If Atlanta won by only one run, you would have lost the bet. Run lines are best played when a heavy favorite with a good pitcher is going against lesser competition.
 
Keep in mind that you can take the 1 1/2 runs and play the underdog if you prefer. However, in this case you pay a higher price for that cushion, but in many cases there isn't as much value in the play.
 
Besides picking the side in a baseball game, one can play over or under the total number of runs that will be scored in a game. The listed total is what the odds makers believe will be the approximate number of runs scored by both teams. A bettor may feel that two good offensive teams may go over the total, depending on who is pitching or he may feel a game will go under the total because two good pitchers are going against weaker offensive teams.
 
Baseball is a lot of fun to bet on because so many statistics are kept and so much is riding on the pitchers of both teams. Remain aware of streaking and slumping teams. Don't play too many big favorites, keep alert for line changes during the day and be aware as you are in football and basketball about injuries to key players and you should do fine during this baseball season.