I am shamefully admitting there often could be nothing more boring than betting on Major League baseball. There I said it . . . but not proudly.
Going into the bottom of the eighth inning down 9-2 you might as well turn on The Real Housewives of New Jersey for more thrills and excitement. And even if you're holding a WINNING ticket you're more likely to be counting your money and planning your next bet. It's just that predictable covering nine long innings and an average of 3 and ½ hours. In comparison to football, would you be switching the channel up two or three scores with 8 minutes to go on the game clock? No way.
Maybe you weren't aware that the online wagering industry's most respected sportsbooks have provided an increasingly popular alternative. The "First Full 5 Inning" wager and the Second Half wager. Most of the top sportsbooks including Diamond Sports, Bovada and Bookmaker prominently feature these wagers within their baseball betting menu. The best news is that is NOT generally considered a proposition wager in that the betting limits are more generous compared to other proposition bets.
The First Full 5 Inning Wager
This bet is one of my favorites and for many a well-kept secret due to its opportunity to cash in. The first 5 innings shorten the action to about an average hour and a half as the game flows quicker without the likelihood of pitching changes and manager visits to the mound, etc. Similar to the traditional "full game lines", the first 5 inning wager offers a game line plus an over/under wager opportunity. In about 95% of the games the O/U ranges in the 3 ½ to 5 run threshold. Therefore, if you bet the Over and your team(s) have a high scoring first inning, you can potentially leave the house smiling, click the smartphone or change the channel immediately.
Obviously, the starting pitchers are going to be focal point establishing the line for both wagers. But it's interesting that the money lines for picking the winning side don't differentiate much between this abbreviated game and the full game. I have noticed that they are slightly more exaggerated toward the favorite for good reason. When a dominant starting pitcher with a proven reputation is on the mound, not only is more action going his way but the likelihood he will control the game from onset. It's simply up to his team to score the runs necessary for the lead.
Cy Young Examples and Contradictions
The following are two excellent examples of how the sharp bettor could potentially prosper with some good handicapping and a bit of luck.
On Thursday, August 27th the L.A. Dodgers were at Cincinnati facing the Reds. Cy Young award candidate Zach Greinke (-200) for the Dodgers against Anthony DeSclafani (+170) for the Reds listed at Diamond Sports. If you checked the First 5 Full Innings Menu the line for game at Diamond was (-215/+180). Apparently displaying bettor preference and Greinke's statistical dominance in the early part of games.
But not so fast before you commit this to a strict rule forever. A check on the Pirates-Marlins game the same evening paints an entirely different story.
Another Cy Young candidate, young Gerrit Cole (-225) was on the hill for Pittsburgh. He was facing Justin Nicolino (+185) for the Marlins in Miami. If you shorten the game to the first 5 innings and want to place a bet you might think your chances of betting on Cole would improve. The money line for the First 5 Full Innings for the game was (-210/+180) at Diamond Sports. Huh?
Does Cole have problems in the early part of games? Are the Marlins better scoring runs early than late? Are the Pirates more of a come from behind team as they've shown since the All-Star break. There could be dozens of reasons. A wise check of the top offshore sportsbooks could provide entirely different lines in this category due to their specific bettor's preferences. Again, always smart to shop around, especially in this "boutique" type category.
Second Half MLB Betting Action
OK, say you fell asleep or missed the first five innings of a baseball game. Here's your wake-up opportunity. Not my cup of tea or necessarily a recommendation but most major sportsbooks offer a "second half" option of a game involving the 6th through 9th innings. This wager also would include all extra innings should a game be tied.
For me this is more of a coin flip than a serious handicapping opportunity since the wager must be made before the game begins on either the side or the total runs scored (O/U). If you're fortunate enough to inherit one of those "9-2 type games" you might be lucky if you bet UNDER in the runs line. As the team ahead would be less motivated to score and would likely have their closing relief ace in to finish the game. Conversely, if the game was tied and you bet OVER 3 runs, four full innings gives you a great opportunity to cash. But overall this is just too much of a crapshoot to be a truly reliable go-to wager.
Using StatFox is Very Wise
I do have one recommendation I strongly suggest and is an invaluable tool for any handicapper making confident decisions. Check out StatFox as a great website help for obtaining statistics and further analysis. Under the StatFox MLB tabs you'll find team records, run averages, pitcher trends, defensive stats, etc. You might even uncover 5 inning trends for teams more reliable than 9 innings!! Who says baseball is boring?? And think what you can do with your life using that extra 2 hours.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding NFL previews and picks from Glenn, click here.