MLB Team Props
by Trevor Whenham - 04/11/2007
When people look to bet on baseball, they most often look towards the money line. The more adventurous will try the MLB run line or maybe the totals. The savvy may give the alternate run lines a try. It's far less common for people to look at team props as a way to make a few bucks. As with most of the more obscure bets, team totals probably aren't something that you would want to play all the time. You need to find the right tool to capitalize on a given situation. Here's a look at some of the team props on offer and scenarios where they might be useful.
Total Hits, Runs and Errors - This bet is an over/under on the combined totals of both teams. It typically falls somewhere in the range of 28 to 30, though both extremes can be found in games that warrant it. The pitchers are listed, and both starters have to take the mound in order for you to get action on your bet. This is one of those bets that often doesn't seem to end up close to the number. Teams will either have a tight game and go way under the total, or have an explosion and go way over it.
There are a couple of ways to use this bet to your advantage. If you are expecting a game to be sloppy and poorly pitched then you might like the H+R+E better than the total for the game. The total is going to be set very high, and hits may come easier than runs, so the H+R+E could be easier to hit. Conversely, the number may be way too high for low scoring teams to hit. The other powerful way to use this bet is as a way to get a better price. In many cases the total and this bet are fairly closely related - it is most common that a game will go over both numbers or under both. Because the totals get played more it is conceivable that the price on a popular position will rise faster on the total than it will on this prop. It's not uncommon, in fact, to see a difference of 20 cents between the total and the H+R+E. Shopping for odds is crucial, and this bet provides another option for totals bettors to shop.
Total team runs - This bet is just a total for one team. Listed pitchers must start for action. The power of this bet is that you don't have to rely on both teams performing as you expect in order to win your bet. If, for example, you are looking at a game with a very strong team playing a very weak one then you may be confident that the good team will score a lot and the bad team won't. To go over the total, though, you may need the bad team to put a run or two on the board. By playing the team total you don't have to worry about that. You only have to decide what your team is going to do and then bet accordingly. This bet can also be another way to shop for attractive odds if you are looking to play the total in a popular game.
Team to score first - This self-explanatory bet requires both listed pitchers to start for action. This is a way to take advantage early of a perceived mismatch in starting pitchers. If a team has solid bats and has its ace on the mound then it may be reasonable to assume that it will score first. This is a way, like a first five innings bet, to bet on the performance of the starting pitchers without having to rely on a potentially shaky bullpen. Another advantage of this bet is that it often is resolved fairly quickly. That can be handy in a case where you have a lot of games to play on one day and you don't have the accessible bankroll to play them all. Your money isn't tied up as long in these bets as they are when you are playing a full game, so you can roll your money over more often. No matter how you play this bet you need to be very aware of the prices that are being offered. There can often be 30 or 40 cent lines, or prices that otherwise make the bet unattractive.
Margin of victory - This is less common, but you will occasionally be able to bet not just on which team will win, but on how many runs they will win by. As is the case with alternate runlines, this can be a way to get a shot at a significantly higher return in a game where there is a clear and heavy favorite. The challenge, though, is that it is almost impossible to accurately handicap this bet since so many factors determine the margin of victory, and there is no room for error. In some cases and for some bettors, though, the lure of the extra payoff makes the bet worthwhile. If you have two or three margins of victory that seem likely then, in some circumstances, you may be able to extract some profit from dutching the bets. That will obviously cut down on your profit, but it might still be possible to get a better price than you could on the moneyline this way.