Betting MLB Team Totals

June 18, 2021
Betting Totals in Game MLB - Betting Strategy

Betting on baseball is almost a niche in itself. Bettors that experience more success betting spreads in football and basketball may shy away from baseball, which is more of a moneyline sport. Most MLB bettors are more focused on picking winners or on the game total. While baseball bettors can have great success doing just that, they could enjoy even more success by betting MLB team totals.

Betting team totals in baseball is definitely a niche market. To get the most out of it, bettors have to first understand how it works. Then, they can find instances to take full advantage of.

The MLB Team Totals Wager

MLB bettors can bet on the total for a game. If the game total is set at 9, bettors can wager that the total number of runs scored will be higher (Over) or lower (Under) the game total.

With team totals, it’s a similar bet. However, bettors are placing a wager on the total number of runs scored by a single team completely independent of the opponent. Here is what a team totals bet might look like.

New York Mets O 4.5 (-120) Washington Nationals O 3.5 (-120)

New York Mets U 4.5 (-110) Washington Nationals U 3.5 (-110)

In this matchup between the Mets and Nationals, a bettor can wager on New York to score more or less than 4.5 runs. A $110 wager on the Mets going Under 4.5 would pay out $100 if New York scored four or fewer runs. The bet is independent of what Washington does and independent of the final outcome of the game. 

A wager could be made on the Nationals as well. A $120 bet on Washington to score more than 3.5 runs pays out $100 if the Nationals score four or more.


Knowing Key Numbers

Just like there are key numbers in football, the same concept exists with MLB. The most common final scores are 5, 7, and 9. A little over a quarter of all MLB games (25 to 30 percent) end with a final score that totals 5, 7, or 9 runs. 

Most MLB games these days have a total set somewhere between 7 and 9. Now, for most bettors it would make sense that a game’s team totals would be set to reflect the game total. That is not the case and it’s important that bettors understand that. 


Pitching Matchups

Nothing will influence a game or team total more than the pitching matchup. A simple look at the starting pitchers is one of the first things a bettor should do when betting team totals. In 2021, Mets ace Jacob deGrom has a ridiculous ERA of 0.54 through 11 starts. He has given up just four earned runs and seven total for the season.

If deGrom is on the mound for New York, it makes good sense to take the Nationals Under 3.5. Likewise, if Patrick Corbin is pitching for the Nats, the Mets Over 4.5 could be a solid bet. Corbin’s ERA thus far is 5.60, but he has been improving in his last few starts. Bettors would also want to take into account a team’s runs per game average. That might make bettors shy away from the Mets who average just 3.82 runs per game. Regardless, betting team totals is dependent upon the pitching matchups.


Understanding the Juice

Bettors need to understand that team totals bets are priced more like proposition bets. Those types of wagers come with a higher price tag. It is common to see juice of -115, -120, or even higher when betting team totals. The key to finding a good team totals bet is finding one with the right juice. It can take some effort, but it’s worth it in the long run. 


Soft Lines

Another key piece of information when betting team totals is to understand that there are sportsbooks out there that do not adjust their odds all that quickly, if at all. Moneyline and game totals odds will fluctuate prior to a game. There are some sportsbooks out there that do not update a game’s team totals to reflect a change in moneyline or game totals.

It pays for bettors to watch for any large moves on a main betting line. Then, the bettor can check to see if the team totals have been updated. If not, there is the potential of finding some value in a team totals bet.

Like any bet, success will come if you understand the wager and do the homework. Bettors that understand team totals, pitching matchups, finding the right juice, and how to find value can find success in betting MLB team totals.