If you are from the UK or indeed most parts of Europe, then baseball is going to be a sport you likely aren’t all to familiar with. It’s actually one of America’s biggest sports and is often referred to as part of the ‘big 4’ that’s made up of American football, basketball, ice hockey and of course baseball.
What you may not be aware of is that a lot of UK facing bookmakers do actually provide a rather comprehensive betting market for baseball. Granted, it wont come close to the likes of US bookmakers, but European bookies have always seemed to go that extra mile over their friends from across the pond making even ‘lesser’ sports a better prospect with a Euro bookmaker.
We do realise that the bookmakers we have listed below will likely be pretty limited in what’s on offer for betting on baseball. Let’s be honest, the market coverage and coverage of the sport in general wont even come close to a football or horse racing, for example. What we will be looking for is as much depth as possible though. Whilst the sport is at it’s biggest in the US, the internet allows people to stream games should they wish and they can pick up all access tickets to watch live MLB games via the MLB website.
Best Baseball Betting Sites
#1 – Coral
We’re fans of how Coral set out their baseball betting page from the off and the way that you just got an overview of everything going on made it feel really easy to use. They include 5 markets in total which are money line betting, run line, total runs, 1st innings betting and 1st inning runs over/under. Like we said, when we first looked we didn’t actually think this would be beaten, but still agree that it’s a really good amount of markets to bet on.
One thing that we noticed, and often gets overlooked by punters, is that Coral provide a really solid pricing structure and when comparing it to the other books they were at worst equal in terms of odds, if not better. Hence giving them our number one spot.
#2 – BetVictor
BetVictor pushes Coral very close for second place and it could be a case of having a joint second with these two. They basically lose out because they have a couple fewer markets to bet on and whilst the same games are on offer, the depth of markets is a slight issue.
That being said, they did offer games from Mexico, which was the only alternative league we found outside of the MLB from our top three picks. Games looked pretty slim pickings and although we know little about the league in question, it seemed as though it was more for outright winner betting on their higher profile matches. In fact, what some bookmakers do is provide markets on request for some of their higher rollers and we wouldn’t be surprised to hear if this was indeed the case with this or not.
How to Bet on Baseball
Perhaps after starting this article and then compiling our reviews we have possibly put to bed a bit of a myth that baseball betting is only really available to players from the US. Depth of markets is the only thing that really separates each bookmaker and we found each really easy to use if you are looking to bet on the outright winner market. It just goes to show how well rounded European facing bookmakers are these days.
The next step to betting is to form some sort of research for your picks. Now this will be tougher for people outside the US as the sport is hardly ever really shown on TV and when it is, it’s usually through the early hours of the morning. That being said, there are websites that contain some decent betting information and you can even keep up to date with betting news from social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, both for free.
Don’t forget that when registering new accounts with bookmakers you can take advantage of their sign up offers meaning you basically get money for nothing. This should be taken into consideration before signing up and before placing your first baseball bet.
The run line is one of the more popular betting markets and this is essentially handicap betting. Each team will either start with a positive or negative run line number meaning they start with a head start (positive) or a handicap (negative). At the end of the game the handicap is subtracted from the final score to create the handicap result.
Game totals are the amount of runs to be scored in a game. This is just generally picking between an over or under amount. Similar to this is the innings totals where you bet on an over or under amount for each innings. As the game starts then this market will turn in-play and adjust for each innings.
The money line is basically the outright winner to you and me. Here you simply bet on which team you think will win the match at the odds shown. Remember that baseball does not include ties; so all results will stand even after additional innings’.
Alternative Run Lines
The alternative run lines means you can choose between a large number of runs to be scored by each team. They range from +/- 0.5 up to around 10. These will be shown in decimals as well, to eliminate any tied results; this market is very similar to the Asian Handicap in soccer betting.
Baseball Betting Rules
A game is classed as complete if just 4.5 innings of the match have been completed. If the game then gets suspended after this point then all settled bets will remain, bets will be paid out on the result at the time of suspension and should the game be tied at time of suspension, bets will become void.
Betting on the over/under market will require for the while game to be complete. This means that should the game get suspended at any point then all bets will be refunded. Likewise if one of the two starting pitchers does not start, then bets on this market will be refunded.
How the MLB League Structure Works
If we’re all honest with ourselves, the world of Major League Baseball is a confusing one to outsiders. The professional division in North America is wildly considered to be the highest level of the game anywhere in the world, not least of all because it was the Americans who invented the sport. At the time of writing, there are 30 teams that compete in the MLB, with 29 of them coming from the United States of America and one from Canada. The teams are split into two leagues, the American League and the National League.
Divisions: East, Central & West
The two leagues are each divided up into three divisions, which are East, Central and West, depending on their geographical location. Since 2013, there have been five teams in each division, with teams scheduled to play a 162 game season. It begins either at the end of March or the beginning of April, going through to the end of October. The teams play other sides within their own division most often, very rarely playing against teams that are in other leagues. It is common for teams to play in a series of three or four games at a time.
Since 2013, all teams play the other four sides in their division 19 times for a total of 76 games each. This is added to thanks to six or seven games that are played against each of the other team teams in the same league, totally 66 games. There are also 20 inter-league games, which feature the following matchups:
- American League East v National League Central
- American League Central v National League West
- American League West v National League East
That is where the breakdown of each team’s 162 game season comes from and helps to explain why it is that Major League Baseball is so confusing to those watching from the outside. If a game gets cancelled, usually thanks to bad weather, then it is possible to hold it at a later date, usually as a double-header of two games in one day. If it wouldn’t affect the standings of either team then games can just be abandoned.
Once the regular season is over, the highest placed teams enter a post-season ‘play-off’ period, with teams that are tied for the right to take part in the play-offs facing each other in a one-off game to decide which side will go forward. The play-offs decide the champions for each of the two leagues.
Major League Baseball All-Star Game
July sees three days put to one side in order to see the Major League Baseball All-Star Game take place. This is a period of time known as the ‘All-Star Break’ and is considered to be the halfway point in the season. The game sees the best players in the leagues join forces to make up two teams that face off against one another. The American League’s best players face the National Leagues best players and, at the time of writing, the National League’s players have only won three times, though there have been two ties.
It used to be the case that at the end of each regular season of baseball, the top teams of the American League and the top teams in the National League progressed into the play-offs. These consisted of five teams, made of the best team from each of the West, Central and East division in each league, with the two next-best teams in each division also moved into the play-offs as wild cards. The first game of the play-offs is known as the Wild Card Game because it sees the two wild card sides from each division play each other in a one-off game, with the winners advancing into the Division Series.
In 2022, however, a new format was introduced. This resulted in six teams progressing to the play-offs from each league. The teams were made up of the three division winners, which were seeded 1, 2 and 3, as well as three wild cards that were seeded 4, 5 and 6 in each league. The top two seeds in each league got a bye straight to the Division Series, whilst the lowest seeded division winner as well as the three wild-card teams play in a best of three format Wild Card Round.
The Division Series sees teams play best of five matches, with a team moving through to the next round of the play-offs once they have won three times against their opponent. This next round is the Championship Series, with the losing teams being knocked out of the play-offs altogether. The American League teams that win play in the AL Championship Series, whilst the National League teams that are successful play in the NL Championship Series. This is a best out of seven series of matches, with a team that wins four times progressing.
The World Series
In Major League Baseball, the winning team from the American League Championship Series takes on the winning side from the National League Championship Series in a best of seven series of matches to decide which team is the best in the world. The fact that only American teams and one Canadian side are allowed to take part in the World Series is not important as far as the people behind baseball are concerned. It has been contested since 1903, with the team that boasts the best win-loss record in the regular season in each league playing in it until 1969.
1969 was when the leagues were split into divisions and the play-offs were introduced, with the format pretty much following the play-off format explained above since then. Initially, home advantage alternated between the National League and American League, but in 2002 that changed and the winner of the All-Star Game was given home advantage until 2016. In 2017, there was another alteration and home field advantage was given to the team that had the best win-loss record in the regular season, remaining that way since.
Well before any of the excitement of the World Series and prior to the regular season getting underway, teams engage in spring training. This is when teams head to either Arizona or Florida in order to take advantage of the warmer weather and take part in practice and exhibition sessions. It is also a chance for new players to audition for the roster and allows already established players to get their rhythm back ahead of the regular season. Teams having their spring training in Arizona are put in the Cactus League, whilst those in Florida go into the Grapefruit League.
It is common for spring training to coincide with spring break in America, meaning that lots of college students head to Arizona and Florida in order to autograph hunt and to get greater access to the players. Spring training usually lasts for about two months, beginning in the middle of February and going through to just before the opening day of the regular season. It is common for pitchers and catchers to begin their training a little before everyone else for the simple reason that they tend to require longer training periods to get up to their best.
One of the things that fans of the likes of the Premier League will struggle to understand is that there is no relegation from Major League Baseball. Instead, the teams that play in it play in it every season, allowing for more consistency and a sense that teams will always be part of the MLB project. Here is a look at which team plays in which league and which division, as well as where they are based:
|American League||East||Baltimore Orioles||Baltimore, Maryland|
|American League||East||Boston Red Sox||Boston, Massachusetts|
|American League||East||New York Yankees||New York City, New York|
|American League||East||Tampa Bay Rays||St. Petersburg, Florida|
|American League||East||Toronto Blue Jays||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|American League||Central||Chicago White Sox||Chicago, Illinois|
|American League||Central||Cleveland Guardians||Cleveland, Ohio|
|American League||Central||Detroit Tigers||Detroit, Michigan|
|American League||Central||Kansas City Royals||Kansas City, Missouri|
|American League||Central||Minnesota Twins||Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|American League||West||Houston Astros||Houston, Texas|
|American League||West||Los Angeles Angels||Anaheim, California|
|American League||West||Oakland Athletics||Oakland, California|
|American League||West||Seattle Mariners||Seattle, Washington|
|American League||West||Texas Rangers||Arlington, Texas|
|National League||East||Atlanta Braves||Cumberland, Georgia|
|National League||East||Miami Marlins||Miami, Florida|
|National League||East||New York Mets||New York City, New York|
|National League||East||Philadelphia Phillies||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|National League||East||Washinton Nationals||Washington, District of Columbia|
|National League||Central||Chicago Cubs||Chicago, Illinois|
|National League||Central||Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|National League||Central||Milwaukee Brewers||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|National League||Central||Pittsburgh Pirates||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
|National League||Central||St. Louis Cardinals||St. Louis, Missouri|
|National League||West||Arizona Diamondbacks||Phoenix, Arizona|
|National League||West||Colorado Rockies||Denver, Colorado|
|National League||West||Los Angeles Dodgers||Los Angeles, California|
|National League||West||San Diego Padres||San Diego, California|
|National League||West||San Francisco Giants||San Francisco, California|
Major League Baseball teams wear uniforms that help to distinguish them from one another. Over the years, they have adapted and developed in order to ensure that they keep up with the times, with the likes of wool outfits being replaced by polyester, which can be mass-produced. At the time of writing, the official supplier for MLB uniforms is Nike, having won the contract to produce them in 2020. In the early days of the sport, teams were mostly distinguished from one another by the socks that they wore.
Traditionally, teams would wear uniforms that were mostly white when playing at home, with their colour appearing in the trim. When playing away, they would play in mostly grey uniforms, once again with the trim in their colour. From the 1970s, teams began to play with more colours in their uniforms, largely thanks to the development of synthetic fabrics. The modern-era of the sport, generally accepted to have begun in the 1990s, saw clubs begin to market licensed goods, such as jerseys and caps, selling them to the public to make more money.
This move towards excess commercialism soon led to clubs releasing not only specific kits for home and away games but also for Sunday games. Uniforms that were specifically for practice or that were worn for one-off reasons soon began to be sold, as did what became known as ‘throwback’ uniforms, which tended to be antique in their nature. The result is that it is tricky to say with any degree of certainty which uniform is the official one of a team, though obviously all of the various uniforms are available for purchase.
Who Controls Baseball?
Major League Baseball is governed according to the Major League Baseball Constitution, a document which was first created in 1876. Since then, of course, it has undergone numerous different changes and alterations, but the main outline of it has remained the same. Under the direction of the Commissioner of Baseball, a position that first came into the sport after the foundation of the National Baseball Commission in 1903, the MLB is responsible for the hiring and maintenance of the umpiring crews, as well as the marketing teams and the signing of television contracts.
Unlike other sports, Major League Baseball controls almost every aspect of its own sport. That includes Minor League Baseball, thanks to a ruling by the US Supreme Court in 1922 in the Federal Baseball Club v National League case, which said that baseball is not an inter-state commerce and therefore doesn’t have to be subject to federal anti-trust laws. In other words, MLB doesn’t need to worry about competition for its domination of the sport, unlike when the National Football League faced different competing enterprises.