2020 Baseball Betting Guide

Baseball is a unique sport to bet on due to the sheer number of games played during the regular season. MLB teams each play 162 games in the regular season compared to the 82 that NBA and NHL teams play, 16 that NFL teams play, and only 12 that college football teams play.

Now that sports betting has officially launched in Tennessee, bettors will have no shortage of games to choose from all season long. MLB is also the only major sports league that usually runs in the United States during the dog days of summer.

This MLB betting primer will cover everything you need to know about betting on baseball in Tennessee, from how it works to some baseball betting tips that can help you become a winner.

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Is it legal to bet on baseball in Tennessee?

Tennessee lawmakers legalized sports betting in 2019. Tennessee will not have any brick-and-mortar locations available for sports and baseball betting, but instead offers online-only betting.

Online sportsbooks in TN offer all standard wager types like moneylines, spreads, and totals. You’ll also find several standard types of baseball bets, such as first five innings and in-game betting.

What you will likely not be able to bet on is anything that is not specifically part of the baseball game. While some states like Indiana and New Jersey offer more varied options, the Tennessee regulations seem to be written to only apply to sporting events and not other things like the Oscars.

Fortunately, betting on baseball is fairly straightforward, so chances are MLB betting won’t be too heavily affected by the state-specific betting regulations that Tennessee decides on.

How to bet on baseball with a mobile app

One of the best aspects of online betting is its convenience and simplicity. Online sportsbooks understand the importance of giving their customers easy access to betting lines on their mobile devices, as many players want to place bets on events while they are away from their computer.

All of the top online sportsbooks currently operating in the United States also have mobile betting apps that can be used to place wagers on MLB games.

As is the case with other states that have legalized sports gambling, Tennessee uses geolocation technology to ensure that customers attempting to make bets on a computer or phone are physically in the state of Tennessee. This technology pinpoints your location using your IP address and/or Wi-Fi signal to make sure that no one outside of the state is betting on a Tennessee-based website.

Even if you are a resident of Tennessee, you will not be allowed to make bets on your betting app when outside of state lines.

MLB Live Odds

Check our feed below for the current MLB odds at TN online sportsbooks. During the offseason several futures odds are available, including odds on the next World Series champ and Divisional/Pennant winners. Click on any odds to go directly to the sportsbooks and claim your bonus or free bets.

What does an MLB betting line look like?

A standard MLB betting line shows bettors the price of both teams on the moneyline, the price of both teams against the spread (also known as the run line), the total number of runs set for the game, and the price on the game going over or under that total.

For example, a divisional matchup between the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals might be listed as: Washington +120 (+1.5 -185) vs. Atlanta -140 (-1.5 +170), Total Over 7.5 (-110) / Under 7.5 (-110).

Understanding MLB betting odds

MLB betting odds are most commonly listed in the American odds format that you see above.

Numbers with a “-” in front of them let you know how much you would need to bet to win $100. For example, a -140 wager on the Braves in the example above would win $100 for every $140 you wagered. A $1,400 bet would yield a $1,000 profit if it wins; a $70 bet would pay $50, and so on.

Numbers starting with a “+” tell you how much you would win if you wager $100. So a +120 bet on the Nationals would earn you a $120 profit on a winning $100 bet or a $240 profit on a $200 bet.

How to bet on baseball

Here’s a rundown of some of the different types of bets that you can place on an MLB game.

Moneyline

A bet on the moneyline is simply a bet on which team is going to win the game outright. This is the most common type of bet, with the team projected to win being referred to as the “favorite” and the team projected to lose being referred to as the “underdog.”

Run line

Every MLB game has the same spread, which is called the run line. The run line lists the favorite at -1.5 and the underdog at +1.5. In the example above, the Nationals are listed as a +1.5 run line dog with a -185 payout.

The Braves are listed as a run line favorite at -1.5 (+170). For Braves -1.5 bet to cash in, Atlanta would have to win by at least two runs. On the other hand, if you bet the Nationals +1.5, a Washington win OR a one-run loss would be graded a winner.

Totals

Totals bets, also known as over/under bets, are bets on how many total runs will be scored in a game. The total is set before the game and is based on a number of factors including starting pitching and the offenses involved.

A potential slugfest between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox might have a posted total of 11.5 runs, while a potential pitching duel between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets might have a total of only seven runs. You must bet on whether the combined score between these two teams will go over or under the set total.

Futures

A futures bet is a wager on an event that is going to happen in the future, often later in the season. Popular MLB future bets include what team will win the World Series, what team will win the AL and NL pennants, and what player will win the AL and NL Cy Young awards. These bets remain pending until they are decided.

Alternate run lines

While conventional run lines list the underdog at +1.5 and the favorite at -1.5, the alternate run line flips this so that the betting favorite is now receiving +1.5 and the underdog is giving the -1.5. This bet type is most popular for bettors who believe strongly in an underdog and want to go after a huge payout, not only betting on the dog to win but to win by two or more runs.

First five inning lines

A first five MLB bet only covers the first five innings of the game, being graded once the bottom of the fifth inning is completed. Moneylines, run lines, and totals are all offered in the five-inning format as well as the full-game format. These bets are perfect for bettors who just want to focus on starting pitchers and to largely leave bullpens out of the equation.

Standard prop bets in baseball

A proposition bet (also referred to as a prop bet) within a game is a bet on something that isn’t directly tied to the outcome of the game. So if you bet on whether a certain player will strike out, your bet will be graded a winner or a loser regardless of which team goes on to win the game. Here’s a list of some of the most popular MLB prop bets:

  • Runs + hits + errors: On a conventional MLB scoreboard, both teams are listed with their runs, hits, and errors in the game. This has been turned into one of baseball’s most popular prop bets, betting on whether the combined total of runs, hits, and errors for a specific team or game will go over or under a posted total.
  • Score in first inning: “Will there be a run scored in the first inning?” This yes-or-no prop bet often lists “no” as the favorite, but is a tricky one to handicap as many starters give up a run or two in the first inning before settling into their rhythm. Other prop bets in this same vein include “first team to score” and “first team to reach three runs.”
  • Team props: MLB props that focus on a team’s performance in the game are called team props. Examples of team props include whether a team will go over or under a posted total of hits, runs or home runs in a game.
  • Player props: Similarly, player props are based on the performance of an individual player. Will Mike Trout hit a home run? Will Julio Teheran have over or under 5.5 strikeouts? These types of props are most prevalent during the postseason.

MLB win totals explained

The props listed above are examples of in-game props. There are also season-long MLB prop bets, and one of the most popular season props to bet on is MLB win totals.

Win totals are future bets on whether a team will go over or under a set number of wins on the season. For example, say that the St. Louis Cardinals have a preseason win total set at 91.5 wins. A bet on the over would last the entire season and would cash in if the Cardinals win 92 games or more and lose if they win 91 games or fewer.

MLB future bets like win totals are adjusted as the year goes on based on how a team is performing, key injuries, and trades at the deadline. Your wager will be locked in at the price that you bet it at, but during the season, the line available to the public is constantly being updated.

How live betting works with baseball

Live betting, also known as in-play betting, allows you to wager on dynamic betting lines that are changing in real time based on what’s happening in the game. For example, the total for a San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers game might have been set at 8.5 runs in the pregame, but after a 4-2 first inning, the MLB live betting line on the total might be bumped up to 11.5 runs.

Moneylines, run lines, alternate run lines, and totals change throughout the game and can be bet on at any time. Some sportsbooks even offer pitch-by-pitch live betting in which bettors can wager on what the result of a specific at bat or even pitch will be. All online sportsbooks currently operating in the United States offer some form of live MLB betting online.

Spring training, regular season, and playoffs

MLB betting odds function the same regardless of whether the games are being played in spring training, the regular season or the playoffs. In general, far fewer line variations are offered during spring training, with many games only being listed on the moneyline and some not being listed at all. Playoff games, on the other hand, are usually offered with more team and player props than the average regular-season game is.

  • Spring training tip: Spring training games are extremely volatile. The top players often only play a few innings, and minor league players might be used in prominent roles by teams trying to sort out their depth chart before the season begins. Keep all of this in mind when handicapping games in spring training.
  • Regular season tip: The regular season is 162 games long, and very few players nowadays are available for all of those games. Make it a habit when handicapping to check for batters who are getting the day off and for relief pitchers who may be unavailable due to usage earlier in the week.
  • Postseason tip: Listed starting pitchers tend to have a much shorter leash in the postseason than they do in the regular season as managers turn to their bullpens, often bolstered with other starters, early and often. Bullpen matchups and pinch hitters require plenty of extra attention during the playoffs.

Tennessee MLB teams

Tennessee residents don’t have a local professional baseball team to call their own. But that hasn’t stopped them from enjoying the MLB. The state’s residents have adopted two teams as de facto Tennessee MLB teams: the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves have carved out a solid following in the southeastern part of the United States as research shows they are the preferred team of Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and the majority of Tennessee.

  • Established in: 1871 (in Boston)
  • Current stadium: Truist Park
  • World Series titles: Three (1914 (Boston), 1957 (Milwaukee), 1995)
  • National League Pennants: 17 (1877, 1878, 1883, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1897, 1898, 1914, 1948 (all in Boston); 1957, 1958 (in Milwaukee); 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1999)
  • Division titles: 19 (1969, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2013, 2018, 2019)
  • Braves Retired Numbers: 10 (3 Dale Murphy, 6 Bobby Cox, 10 Chipper Jones, 21 Warren Spahn, 29 John Smoltz, 31 Greg Maddux, 35 Phil Niekro, 41 Eddie Mathews, 44 Hank Aaron, 47 Tom Glavine)

St. Louis Cardinals

While the Braves may have the lion’s share of support in Tennessee, they don’t have all of it. Residents of the westernmost part of the state, including cities like Jackson and Memphis, tend to support their neighbors to the west in the St. Louis Cardinals.

  • Established in: 1882
  • Current stadium: Busch Stadium
  • World Series yitles: 11 (1926, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982, 2006, 2011)
  • National League Pennants: 19 (1926, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987, 2004, 2006, 2011, 2013)
  • Division yitles: 14 (1982, 1985, 1987, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019)
  • Cardinals retired numbers: 12 (1 Ozzie Smith, 2 Red Schoendienst, 6 Stan Musial, 9 Enos Slaughter, 10 Tony La Russa, 14 Ken Boyer, 17 Dizzy Dean, 20 Lou Brock, 24 Whitey Herzog, 42 Bruce Sutter, 45 Bob Gibson, 85 August Busch Jr.)

Top 5 MLB players from Tennessee

  1. Todd Helton, born in Knoxville: A career .316 hitter, Todd Helton was arguably the best first baseman in the major leagues in the early 2000s. He went to the MLB All-Star Game five times from 2000-2004 and won three Gold Glove Awards and four Silver Slugger Awards during that stretch.
  2. Mookie Betts, born in Nashville: If the early stages of his career are any indication, Mookie Betts is on pace to become the greatest Tennessee-born player in MLB history. Heading into his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers at just 27 years old, Betts is already a four-time MLB All-Star from 2016-2019 with four Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards.
  3. David Price, born in Murfreesboro: The Dodgers traded for two superstar Tennessee natives in their 2020 preseason trade with the Boston Red Sox. Price wasn’t elite in Boston, but his career resume speaks for itself with five All-Star appearances, an AL Cy Young Award, and the lowest ERA in the AL in 2012 and 2015.
  4. Tommy Bridges, born in Nashville: Tommy Bridges spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers from 1930 to 1946. He was a six-time MLB All-Star and a two-time World Series champion. He led the AL in wins in 1936 and in strikeouts in 1935 and 1936.
  5. Vada Pinson, born in Memphis: This fifth spot is a tough call between Vada Pinson and Steve Finley (Union City). Pinson gets the nod however with an 18-year career from 1958 through 1975 that earned him a spot in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Baseball betting strategy

Practice makes perfect. Instead of trying to be an expert on every team and every bet type, find a focus that works for you. Some bettors excel at first-five bets while others are experts on totals. If you find something that works or something that you enjoy, stick to it to carve out your niche.

Betting mistakes to avoid

  1. Betting on too many games: In full, there are 2,430 games during MLB’s six-month-long regular season. Each one of those games has moneylines, run lines, totals, and props to consider. With such a loaded betting card, there is no reason at all to force the action when you can’t find an edge. Don’t hesitate to take the day off; there’s always tomorrow in baseball.
  2. Betting while drunk or impaired: One of the only things worse than forcing the action is making decisions with your hard-earned money while you are drunk or impaired in some other fashion. Mobile betting makes it easy to fire MLB bets when you aren’t thinking clearly; don’t get into this habit. Your bankroll will thank you.
  3. Chasing your bets: Being emotional can be just as hindering as being drunk. Losing streaks are a part of the game; successful bettors know that MLB betting is a marathon, not a sprint. Doubling or tripling down trying to win back what you lost during the day or week may seem like a good idea, especially when it works. But all it takes is one big bet to backfire and blow up your entire bankroll management strategy.

FAQ

What is the cutoff time for placing bets?

In general, there is no set cutoff time for placing MLB bets before the game begins. Most sportsbooks will take action on an MLB game right up until the first pitch is thrown. A bet placed after the game has been taken off the board will not be accepted.

What happens to a bet when a game is suspended?

This actually depends on the sportsbook where your bet was placed. Historically, a suspended game was graded based on the last completed inning. So if the Chicago Cubs were leading 7-5 at the end of the seventh inning and the Cincinnati Reds scored two runs at the top of the eighth inning to tie the game at 7-7 before the game was suspended, money line wagers would be graded as a win for the Cubs and a loss for the Reds since the last completed inning was the seventh. This is how suspended MLB wagers are graded in Las Vegas.

But at some sportsbooks operating in New Jersey, such as FanDuel, a suspended game that resumes the next day just picks up where it left off with your bet still live. MLB bettors will need to check the rules on their preferred sportsbook to see how these games are graded in Tennessee when operations begin.

What happens to a bet when a game is declared final before nine innings have been played?

A weather-shortened game that ends before nine full innings have been played is graded on the money line based on the final result of the game. Run line bets and totals bets, however, are both graded as no action. Even if you have the over 7.5 runs and there have been 10 runs scored in the game, if it doesn’t go nine full innings, your wager will be graded no-action.

The reason for this is that a bet of under 7.5 runs in a 1-0 game that went only seven innings didn’t have the chance to get the potential runs in the eighth and ninth innings. As such, both sides are canceled in a shortened game.

What is a listed pitcher option?

A listed pitcher option for an MLB bet allows you to place your bet contingent on one or both of the listed starters starting the game. If you are placing a bet on the Houston Astros specifically because Justin Verlander is pitching, you can list Verlander on your bet so that if there are any last-minute rotation changes, your bet will be canceled.

What is an action bet in baseball?

An action bet is the opposite of a listed pitcher bet. This type of bet is locked in regardless of whether one or both of the original pitchers listed goes on to start in the game or not.