While North America are the biggest players of baseball, the game actually originated in England. Played all over the Caribbean as well as Asian, Australasia and Europe, it is far more of a worldwide sport than is often assumed. Major League Baseball games are now being played outside of the USA and Canada in a bid to grow baseball still further. The MLB schedule is made up of 162 games.
In essence, baseball is a very simple sport to understand. Teams play games of nine innings in length with extra innings played if the score is tied after nine. Each team gets three outs in each inning, once three outs are made, the other team comes up to bat. A run is put on the board for every player who crosses home plate before those three outs. The team to score the most runs wins.
Teams are made up of nine players at any one time with 26 players on an active roster during the majority of the season, expanding to 28 in September. There are 30 teams in MLB at present, split 15 each in the American League and National League, further split with five teams in an East, Central and West division.
Most players will either be a pitcher or a hitter. There are some examples like Babe Ruth in the early 1900’s and Shohei Ohtani in the modern game who do both but generally players will fall into a single category.
Pitchers are split by those who begin games (starters) and those who come in as ‘relief’ from the bullpen. Each team generally has a starting rotation of pitchers. These contains five players with seven or eight further players sat in the bullpen. A recent rule change means that those who come in as relief pitchers must face at least three batters or pitch to the end of a half inning.
Relief pitchers are often specialists who come in, in high leverage situations to get through a specific part of an order. When a team is in front by three runs or less, the final pitcher to come in to finish off a game is known as a closer. They pick up a ‘save’ for each game that they successfully hold a lead in for their side.
Pitchers will have an array of pitches that vary in velocity and movement depending on the position of their fingers on the seams of the baseball. A fastball is split by two-seam or four-seam, the same grip used but the seams in a different position. A changeup is a slower ball held further back in the hand. More contact with the ball slows the delivery to keep hitters off guard. A curveball and a slider are the other often used pitches, with both having vertical and lateral movement.
Hitters will also play the fielding positions, first base, second base, third base, short stop (between second and third) right field, centre field, left field and catcher. Each team will also have a designated hitter whose only job is to bat, they have no fielding responsibilities.
As mentioned above, baseball is a game involving two teams of nine players. They play nine innings with three outs at their disposal. The team with the most runs wins. It’s a simple game on paper and the majority of the rules are the same as they have been for more than 100 years. That is a part of why so many fans love baseball, it’s the tradition.
A pitcher will throw from a mound elevated 10 inches from the field. They start each pitch with at least a part of one foot touching the pitching rubber on top of the mound. That pitching rubber is 60.5 feet from home plate, with each base 90 feet from the prior one in a diamond formation. Home plate is 17 inches wide, behind which the home plate umpire calls balls and strikes.
Three strikes is an out, four balls thrown gives the batter a walk to first base. A ball hit but not staying within the lines is a foul ball. The first two of those count as strikes but not a third. The third strike must be either a swing and a miss or the ball passing over the plate within the strike zone without a swing.
The strike zone on a hitter is the width of the plate and then the height from the batters knees to chest about where the teams name is written on the jersey. Naturally this moves depending on the height of the hitter and is a bone of contention to fans worldwide. Robot umpires have been in trials but even some of the calls from them have been off.
A batter putting the ball in play between the lines will run towards first base. If they only make it that far, it’s a single. If they make it to second before the ball is returned towards the infield by the fielding team, it’s a double and a triple for reaching third. A ball that clears the outfield wall is a home run which scores all runners on the bases at that time.
All the while the ball is ‘live’ runners can steal a base if they make it to the next one without being tagged out. If a ball is caught, any runners must return to the base where they started, they can still advance but only when they have tagged the base. They cannot leave that base until the ball is safely caught.
This is only a brief overview of a sport which has a multitude of laws. The easiest way is to watch the sport for yourself with the commentators helping to explain things as they happen.
A Brief History Of Baseball
Baseball and rounders came from the same basic principle. Created in England in the 1700’s the game made its way to North America and specifically to New York City where the rules were given an overhaul into something reminiscent of the game we know today in the mid 19th century.
The 1830’s and ’40’s saw baseball start to gain a grip on North America. 1846 is the first officially recognised game of baseball in the United Stakes. Though historians have differing theories, the 23-1 win by the ‘New York Nine’ over the ‘New York Knickerbockers’ is the game that most accept to be the opening official game.
1876 saw the start of the National League, joined by the American League in 1893. By that point 130 years ago, the game was fundamentally recognisable as the game that we know and love today. Rules continue to be tweaked as audiences change their preferences and will still further in the future.
Betting On Baseball
We have a wide range of baseball betting markets here at BetConnect. From opening day all the way to the end of the World Series, bettors will find plenty to get involved in. For OddsMonkey customers, our Matched Betting Pro product will help lock in a 0 qualifying loss and 0% commission on all baseball bets.
Baseball Betting Markets
As the popularity of baseball grows in the UK, so does the volume of markets that punters can bet on. There are a lot of markets that are specialist so we have kept things simple and just broken down four of the main ones that are easy to find and to understand.
The Moneyline market means that you are betting on a team to win the game. A very simple way in, there are very few big prices to be had but it is an easy introduction.
Another very simple market. The traders at each bookmaker will set a run line of how many total runs they believe will be scores in a game, for example 10.5. A bettor then makes up their mind as to whether they think there will be more or less runs that this in the game and bets on the unders (less runs than the line) or overs (more runs than the line.)
In a bid to level the playing field, a handicap market gives the outsider a head start against the favourite. This provides bigger odds on the favoured team and is often a play if a bettor believes that a contest is going to be rather one sided. A team may be given a handicap of +2.5 runs so the favourite needs to beat them by 3 runs to cover the line. You can also bet on the outsider in this scenario and will win if keeping the game to a 2 run loss or better.
To Hit A Home Run
A relatively new market in recent years, bettors are quite simply placing a bet on whether a named player will hit a home run in a specified game. There are stat based sites out there who will give information on previous at bats that a hitter has had against a specific pitcher to help make an informed decision. As with any sport, players can be streaky so a batter who has hit form up against a pitcher who has given up home runs in recent starts is a good place to start.
Popular Competitions To Bet On In Baseball
While there are leagues around the world, there are three that stand head and shoulders above the others.
MLB is the highest level of the sport in North America. Teams from across the USA (as well as one in Canada in Toronto) compete to win the World Series. 1876 was the start of the National League, the American League following in 1901. With 27 titles, the New York Yankees are the most decorated team in the league. The 2022 champions were the Houston Astros, beating the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series in October.
NPB is the main league in Japan, a country that has generated some of the top talent for many years. Founded in 1936 the Yomiuri Giants have had the most success, winning the title on 22 occasions. The Orix Buffaloes beat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in the most recent Nippon Series at the end of 2022.
The Korean Baseball League is the top level of the sport in South Korea. Established in 1982, the Kia Tigers are the most successful team in the history of the league with 11 titles. SSG Landers are the most recent champions, beating the Kiwoom Heroes.
Baseball Betting Strategy
Once you have a firm grasp on the teams, players and rules, then bettors can look into the games themselves. The MLB website will give a good idea of how teams are playing with recent results all there. Naturally a team in form is of more interest that one out of form. A team’s record will give another indication on how they are playing with their record from their last 10 games generally shown.
The past results will give a good clue to other markets as well. A team who has scored a lot of runs in recent games against another team who have given up a lot would look an interesting angle when it comes to overs.
For those who are interested in delving even deeper into stats, then baseball is the sport for you. There are few sports in the world that are more stat heavy. There are stats for pitcher V hitter which are perfect for the player to hit a home run market. A hitter who has an excellent record off a particular pitcher is going to be of interest.
Matched Betting is another way of getting involved in baseball. Being able to back and lay the same selection to gain a free bet is a great way of making a profit. Zero qualifying loss with BetConnect as well as 0% commission on all lay bets makes us the best choice for matched betting.
Hopefully having gone through the above, you will now have a better understanding of betting on baseball. It may seem rather complicated at first but so do most of the ‘American’ sports. Once you have watched a few games and immersed yourself into the sport, it will feel much easier. BetConnect offer markets on baseball throughout the MLB season which runs from March until November.