Betting MLB Spring Training is right up there with eating that week-old slice of pizza at the back of your fridge and lending your car to that sweet girl with the tramp stamp you met at the bar last night (she said she had to pick up her aunt from the hospital) – not the best idea.
But for those of you dealing with massive intestinal discomfort or the ones describing your 1997 Isuzu Trooper to the local police, you know that sometimes you just can’t help yourself.
If you're going to bet on Cactus and Grapefruit League baseball action this spring, at least follow these guidelines.
What is MLB Spring Training?
Before any MLB regular season begins, major league clubs will play a series of exhibition games against each other to work off the rust of the offseason, integrate new players and coaches, and evaluate their roster before Opening Day.
Spring Training matchups are divided into two leagues that take place over February and March. The Grapefruit League is held in Florida, where 15 of the 30 MLB clubs take on each other. There's also the Cactus League, which hosts the other 15 major league teams in Arizona.
What can I bet on in Spring Training?
Spring Training odds are much more limited than MLB odds offerings in the regular season. Most sportsbooks will post moneyline odds for matchups – bet on which will team will win – and some select books may release totals and first five-inning odds closer to first pitch.
Bet limits on MLB Spring Training odds are much lower than those offered during the regular season due to the unknown motivations of teams and managers over the course of a game. Sportsbooks don’t allow customers to risk much, protecting themselves from this erratic market.
You won’t find the full slate of MLB betting options for Spring Training, such as team and player props. Managers often juggle their lineups around during a game in order to get a better assessment of talent and aren’t overly motivated to win these warm-up contests.
|CACTUS LEAGUE||GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE|
|Los Angeles Angels||Baltimore Orioles|
|Chicago White Sox||Boston Red Sox|
|Cleveland Indians||Detroit Tigers|
|Kansas City Royals||Minnesota Twins|
|Milwaukee Brewers||New York Yankees|
|Oakland Athletics||Toronto Blue Jays|
|Seattle Mariners||Atlanta Braves|
|Texas Rangers||Houston Astros|
|Chicago Cubs||Washington Nationals|
|Cincinnati Reds||New York Mets|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Philadelphia Phillies|
|San Diego Padres||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|San Francisco Giants||St. Louis Cardinals|
|Colorado Rockies||Miami Marlins|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Tampa Bay Rays|
Do your homework
Like betting any preseason sport, you have to know what the gameplan is before even thinking of putting your hard-earned coin on the line. Read, read and read some more.
“One advantage that bettors have in these exhibition games is information,” Covers Expert Matt Fargo says. “Similar to NFL preseason games where coaches give out their player rotations and game plans, managers in baseball are very upfront on how long starters will be pitching for and what sort of lineups they are going with.”
Listen to what the manager is hoping to accomplish this spring: Is he working in prospects or trying to shore up the rotation? And study up on key players and how they approach spring ball: Do they pace themselves in March or come out swinging? We hate to sound like a public service announcement, but “The more you know…”
The first few games of Spring Training might as well be a high school science fair. Managers are experimenting with lineups and rotations, mixing this guy with that guy and swapping bodies like he’s rolling out hockey lines. As new managers are working with players for the first time, they're still getting an idea of how to best use their talents.
Players are also a tough read in the opening slate of exhibition games. Some guys are easing into the action, others are battling for positions, and others are just trying to stay healthy. Keep an ear to the base paths or sit back and watch how a manager is treating the first weeks of spring ball.
Find the right pitching matchups
As Spring Training marches on, starting pitchers take on more and more work. Guys will go at least five innings, giving you a pretty good idea of what to expect from the staff. The best situation is when you have an ace matched up against a No. 4 or No. 5 starter, or a young prospect trying to break into the bigs. Managers aren’t quick to change up pitchers in the spring, even if a guy is getting hammered.
Betting the "better" team
Roster depth and a surplus of talent can go a long way in Spring Training. Since veterans tend to limit themselves in the exhibition slate, knowing who’s behind them is imperative to betting spring baseball.
A talent-loaded lineup can make up for the absence of one or two big bats, while a shallow roster struggles without those elite hitters at the plate. It’s the reason baseball bettors see many of the same clubs excelling spring after spring.
Ride hot teams, fade cold ones
There is almost zero consistency in Spring Training, so when you start to see a pattern – winning or losing – jump on it. Managers couldn’t care less about the results, so don’t expect them to rush to right the ship if their club struggles in the spring. And if a team is winning, the skip must be doing something right and will only tweak minor details.
What inning is it?
In the new pandemic world of baseball, we were introduced to 7-inning doubleheaders in order to get as many games as possible squeezed into a short time frame, and of course in the name of player safety. Well, this has carried over to the spring of 2021. Teams can play to an agreed amount of innings and that can change on a game-to-game basis. We have seen six, seven, and eight-inning games.
These shortened games also mean more ties, and with most sportsbooks offering just moneyline wagers, you're losing even more value. So, before you place a Spring Training bet, make sure you know how many innings will be played.
Is this t-ball?
It seems another aspect of the new era of baseball is super-protecting pitchers, to the point where a "mercy rule" of sorts has been introduced. Some teams have implemented a 20-pitch limit for pitchers. But it's not so much a mercy rule as it seems to be a way to screw MLB bettors.
There have been instances where pitchers have had two men on, and two men out, reached the 20-pitch mark, and not only does the pitcher come out, but the inning just ends with no runs scored. Teams don't have to use this rule, or end the inning, they can just choose to, making MLB Spring Training games all the more treacherous for bettors.
Where can I bet on MLB?
You can bet on MLB odds at many online and casino sportsbooks, including MLB moneylines, run lines, Over/Under totals, and prop bets. Find ratings and reviews for the best sportsbooks for betting on baseball in your area.